What You Need to Know About Tracing Points

By Michael Copping
Some of the greatest inventions in history were created by mistake, or as an unintended by-product of another process. Putting Tracing Points in the same category as the Post-It note or the wooden match undoubtedly overstates its impact on humanity, but they all share the fact that they were discovered quite literally by accident.

Years ago, subscribers to FRAMES Data requested that we provide them a diagram of the lens shape for each frame style in our FRAMES Quarterly publication. We consulted with several partner companies in the optical industry to solve this problem. In the end, Digital Vision Inc. built a software application that would translate a standard tracing file into a graphic image that we could include in our publication . . . problem solved. Fast forward several years and FRAMES Data had been tracing basically every frame style that entered the marketplace, and in doing so was amassing a huge database of frame shape information. Only later did we discover that this data would be useful as a reference to those who build eyewear.

One day while hosting some laboratory owners in our offices, one of them spied the tracers in our frame processing room and asked us why we had them. When we showed them the lens shape diagrams in our publications and explained that we trace every frame and create those diagrams for the subscribers, we started to see some big smiles come across their faces. “So you’ve been tracing every frame that is entered into frames data and you have those tracing files saved somewhere?” they asked. “Can we get that database?” was their next question.

We received an equally positive response from the laboratory management software providers when we told them what we had. They immediately set out to develop a module within their respective programs that could put this data to use. They were mostly interested in the value of the data for uncut work, as it would aid in the minimum thickness calculations for add jobs and would allow users to determine the optimal lens blank size as well. Using the data for edging purposes was dismissed early on as we recognized that there are differences in frames of the same style and that our tracing might not be accurate enough to use for that purpose.

Today the Tracing Points database has shape information for over 80,000 sku’s of currently available and recently discontinued frame styles, from nearly every major frame company in the industry. And the database keeps growing at a rate of 8,000 – 10,000 new styles every year. The major laboratory management software companies such as Optifacts, DVI, CC Systems Labzilla have integrated the file format, and integrations are underway with other major software providers at of the time of this printing.

Tracing Points is available to optical laboratories on a paid annual subscription basis. It is updated four times a year with the latest frame style tracing information on all the new frames entering the marketplace. The eyewear manufacturers provide the frames to FRAMES Data, Inc. in advance of their release most of the time so that tracing information is available before the frames start showing up on frameboards. Aside from tracing the frames, we also capture other data about the frame including manufacturer, collection, size, color, and UPC code if available. If not available, FRAMES Data assigns an “FPC” code, which is a direct substitute for a UPC code. This number is an unduplicated universal identifier for each frame style, size, and color combination.

Tracing Points can be a valuable, time saving tool for the optical laboratory. It can help speed up job processing and can reduce breakage, and will pay for itself many times over in the course of a year. Special pricing on subscriptions may be available through your lab software provider, so call them today or feel free to contact FRAMES Data directly at 212-274-7109.

CURRENT ISSUE


May/June LabTalk 2017