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Ideas for Improving In-Office Lab Efficiency and Productivity

Editors of 20/20 and Vision Monday


Your in-office lab can be a significant profit-generator. However, to keep it running profitably requires an on-going game plan for its efficient operation. This article focuses on three key management areas that can make a difference in productivity and quality: 1) staff training; 2) lab organization, and 3) cleaning and maintenance.

Staff Training

Today’s newer edgers incorporate sophisticated digital electronics and computerized systems that are easy to use. But to maximize the benefits and minimize spoilage, employees must use the equipment properly.

Manufacturer Training: Take advantage of the training provided by edger manufacturers at installation. Have all involved personnel present and allow a generous amount of time to learn how to run various lens jobs, especially features like drilling and shape modifications available with newer technology. Make sure staff members learn how to perform daily machine calibrations and understand maintenance guidelines.

Help Lines, Manuals and Web Sites: Designate at least one technically-competent employee to be the point person familiar with equipment manuals and company Web sites, and who can interact with manufacturers when necessary via phone help lines. This is the go-to person who can assist employees in using the equipment properly.

Seminars and CE: The more knowledgeable your lab personnel are, the better equipped they are to keep your lab running efficiently. Support their attendance at local seminars that provide updates on lens processing and lab procedures. Encourage them to take CE courses online provided by lens and equipment companies and in trade publications like 20/20 magazine. If possible, enable them to attend state or national shows like Vision Expo East and West.

Lab Organization and Goals

Employees are empowered and motivated when involved directly in setting up their job responsibilities and goals. Rather than telling them what to do, have them participate in the process with your oversight.

Tasks and Schedules: Work with employees on defining their specific lab responsibilities, and share this with all lab staff members so each person’s role is clear. Your lab may include full-time people who multi-task, part-time people who work on edging basic jobs, opticians who do the mounting and fitting, technicians who edge high end jobs, etc. Whatever the mix, get the group’s buy-in to a lab work flow plan that optimizes each person’s lab time.

Lab Set-Up: How your lab is laid out can affect both efficiency and spoilage. Equipment should be lined up in a logical work flow sequence. Newer multifunctional edging systems simplify lab set-up by eliminating separate tracers, blockers, hand edgers and polishers. These functions are performed with one or two machines. One efficient lab configuration is the U-shaped work area, with a lensometer and edging machines on one side, tinting equipment and add-on accessories on the other side, and a mounting station at the end. Edger manufacturers can help with this task.

Performance Goals: The purpose of setting goals is to “catch people doing things right,” not to penalize them. Your approach should set this tone and involve employees in a constructive way. Goals can relate to redos, finishing time, maintenance or any area important to your group’s efficient performance. If reducing redos is a goal, have the group discuss the causes together; was the problem prescription or machine related? To avoid finger-pointing, establish that lab output is a group goal and have all participate in finding ways to improve it. Be sure to share positive customer feedback and provide simple rewards like dinner certificates to reinforce good work.

— Compiled by the editors of 20/20 and Vision Monday

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