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Still reaping benefits

An award-winning, Ohio-based ophthalmic fabrication laboratory has been in business for over forty years. It is now in the process of ramping up for further growth.

To achieve a major increase in capacity and make the transition to an automated laboratory while decreasing labor costs.  

Stepwise investments to increase capacity - additional machinery and Vision X® for optimal tray handling and information flows.

Major saving in labor costs. Space-efficient solution with low maintenance requirements. Safe and operator-friendly. A solid partnership and robust solution that can still be further expanded as needed.

Since its inception over forty years ago, this independent full-service lab has manufactured over 15 million pairs of eyeglasses, handling over 2,000 jobs daily. The company also specializes in high volume vision materials contracts with governmental agencies, managed care organizations, traditional brick-n-mortar optical retail chains, and some online “virtual” optical shops. Over a two-year period, they worked with the FlexLink team to automate their laboratory.

Huge savings in labor costs

Expanded production capacity was achieved during a two-year period by adding more machines, along with Vision X® for optimal tray handling and information flows in production. According to the company's Director of Laboratory Operations, this ongoing investment continues to pay dividends. “It took a little work to get everything set up, but once it was installed it created huge savings in our labor costs. There is no way that we could have managed to expand to this volume of manufacturing profitably without installing automated materials handling,” he said.

Smart routing, excellent support

One of the key features of  the FlexLink installation is the ‘smart routing’ software which ensures that the right jobs go to the right processes. The company's Director of Laboratory Operations had this to say about it: “It was like learning a new operating system on your mobile phone. At first you might get a little frustrated and then you have that aha! moment and understand how it all works.  It’s exciting when you see the results and then you just want to see how much further you can go. We also had great service from FlexLink throughout the process, beginning with the initial facilities planning and layout design, through the completion of the installations.”

Space-efficient solutions

This is a 40,000 square foot facility with many different rooms, some with low ceilings, which made it challenging to come up with an efficient layout solution.  FlexLink cleverly solved this, making optimal use of the space above the equipment and keeping walkways clear, by using automated production flow solutions like spiral elevators. These can be more cost effective than vertical elevators, since they don't require any automation or control and thus have very low maintenance requirements. Conveyor installation and commissioning was quick and efficient as well. The company's Director of Laboratory Operations had this to say about it: “the FlexLink team was absolutely tremendous to work with. They managed to minimize disruption to production, while working long hours to get the system online as quickly as possible.”

Lasting partnership – ready for the next steps

This company plans to continue growing and expanding in the coming years. To realize their objectives, they are following a long-term concept plan for production. The facility plan was developed in partnership with FlexLink engineers, and it enables the company to add capacity incrementally, in a stepwise manner. As part of this multi-phased plan, the office has been totally rebuilt and relocated.  The company's Director of Laboratory Operations and his team know exactly what to do with that space – and it most certainly will involve automated production flow solutions from FlexLink!