Satisloh hosted its users group to witness a fully automated lab in action.

About 200 Satisloh users had the opportunity to visit Lab 4.0—Satisloh’s fully automated, functional lab that can produce 2,500 lenses per day with two shifts of just nine to 10 employees each—at this year’s SLUGFest, Nov. 8-11, in Dallas.

Individual groups toured the lab “round-robin” style to view each piece of equipment, from swarf management and Express AR to automated inspection and tray and block handling. A staggering 34 technologies (some components of larger systems) produced lenses in real time.

“It’s a real facility with real jobs and real customers,” said Andy Huthoefer, head of marketing and global aftermarket operations at Satisloh. “It’s not like a trade show. It’s an actual production facility, and our customers can relate to that.”

Equipment included both the automated and manual alloy free ART blocking systems, three different lens generators (VFT-macro-E for small volume VFT-orbit 2E for mid volume, and VFT-orbit 2 for high volume), the Multi-FLEX high volume polishing system, the ART-Glue-Detector for automated glue detection on lenses and blocks and the Express AR system, which starts with front-sided AR-coated blanks to make the process faster. Its Cobotic loading system inserts blocked lenses into AR sectors using collaborative robots.

Frank Leyva, senior Rx lab technologies manager at Younger Optics, said Satisloh’s Express AR was impressive. “Historically, the AR process has been time consuming and in some cases taking up to a week to get back from the lab,” he said. “Express AR is going to expedite the process.”

Lab 4.0 also integrates technologies from other companies, including MEI Systems, Bazell Technologies, NCC Automated Systems and A&R Optical Machinery. Software 4 Production (S4P) developed the MES-360 manufacturing execution system and MOM-360 manufacturing operations management system that include modules for RFID paperless job tracking and GPS, real-time machine monitoring, proactive scheduling, quality control and more.

“I wanted to learn more about 4.0 and see the integration of the automation,” said Marc Van Camp, VP of manufacturing and supply chain at Spectera/United Healthcare. “The MES stood out because it’s bridging the gap in lab operations in its ability to prioritize and expedite orders through the lab.”

(34 new technologies; some components of larger systems)
• Command Center (central control center)
• MES-360 Manufacturing Execution System (machine monitoring, breakage tracking, conveyor routing, coat batch-tracking modules; links to automated optical inspection and manual cosmetic inspection)
• MOM-360 Manufacturing Operations Management system (proactive scheduling and quality control; incorporates front curve measurement and recalculation)
• NCC Automated Systems ISC System (integrated smart conveyor system that can be configured for any lab)
• Lens Blank Dispensing Assist (picking 10-tray buffer with hand scanner)
• ART-Tray-Pod (automated tray and block storage/retrieval system)
• ART-Blocker-A (alloy-free blocking technology)
• ART-Blocker-M (alloy-free blocking of extreme/unusual lenses)
• VFT-macro-E (lens generator for small volume labs)
• VFT-orbit 2E (lens generator for mid volume labs)
• VFT-orbit 2 (high-volume generator with second fast tool and proprietary tool with integrated cooling system)
• Bazell Technologies Weima Briquetter (swarf management system)
• Bazell Technologies HC6 (automated coolant cleaning system)
• Multi-FLEX (polisher that incorporates four new polishing pads and processes and features intelligent tool concept, cleaning and drying station for Express AR and tool monitoring system)
• Magna-Spin-Auto-2 (hard coating spinning system with dual lacquer system)
• Express AR system (single-sided AR; on-the-block box coating)
• TO-400 (automated 30-minute degas oven)
• Cobotic loading system (collaborative robot loading of blocked lenses into the box coater sectors)
• 1200-DLX-2 (box coater for both AR and mirror coatings)
• ART-Deblocker-A (automated deblocker that separates block piece, adhesive and lens by waterjet)
• ART-Glue-Detector (detector that automatically dismisses lenses or blocks with glue)
• SCL-BC-5 Brush Cleaner (automated lens cleaning system after surfacing/finishing)
• A&R Optical Machines Pro Mapper (lens inspection with automated positioning and decision making)
• ES-5 Edger (blockless edging system with centering and power measurement)
• ES-macro/QM-X3 (tabletop edger)
• MEI Systems 4Racer TBA (edger that combines lens inspection with high speed edging in one unit)

Larry Clarke, president and CTO, said Lab. 4.0 will enable labs to become more efficient and productive while also reducing labor costs, decreasing the use of consumables and other parts. Automated systems allow for faster delivery times and are more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

Clarke said the reason for a four-year hiatus between SLUGFests (the last event was in 2013) was because “the new technologies need to be experienced, not talked about. We wanted to show the real thing…so we designed and built that lab.”

Peter Lothes, president and CEO of Satisloh North America, stressed the company’s commitment to not only providing customers with technology but also giving them the support required for optimal functionality.

“We are committing over 210 resources now—field technicians and service people—working globally to support you as the customer,” he said. “We are all committed to our customers and making quality eyewear.”

LAB 4.0
Industry 4.0 expert Scott Klososky, author, consultant and former CEO of three technology startup companies, kicked off day two with a keynote address in which he urged industry leaders to have a vision and see it through: “You’re all leaders,” he told the crowd. “And leaders have to make very tough decisions about getting to that vision.”

Klososky explained Lab 4.0 in context of the larger digital transformation currently taking place. Calling it a “historically significant change in humanity,” he said the main difference between Industry 3.0 (automation, robotics and computers) and Industry 4.0 (smart stations and robotics) is the “integration and addition of intelligence to the automation capabilities,” and Lab 4.0 is a prime example of a fully automated manufacturing process.

To learn more about the evolution of smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0, download Klososky’s presentation at

Steele Young, Satisloh’s VP of business development and key accounts, told OLP the goal of SLUGFest was to effectively educate users on automated technology, which is to actually have them see a functional lab.

“The combined production capacity of the people here is somewhere around 200,000 lenses a day, so these are the right people to be looking at the latest in automation and innovation for the optical lab,” he said. “In the end if everybody gets it and understands the concept and sees the new technologies, then I would say it [SLUGFest] is a success.”

Cara Aidone Huzinec is assistant editor of Optical Lab Products.


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