Lab Operations

Quest Vision Specialty Care Lab Expands Management Team

Quest Vision Care Specialty Lab has appointed two new members to its management team.


As we all know, many optical shops and physician’s offices have their own finishing labs, which can support much of their regular business. Yet even in these situations, there’s still a role for wholesale laboratories to play. If you’d like to continue supporting small optical shops who have their own finishing labs, here are several tips we learned from our three source labs:

Muda: The 7 Deadly Wastes

Muda is the Japanese word for futility, uselessness or wastefulness. For our purposes, we will define it as any activity or process that doesn’t add value to our product. In other words, if a customer wouldn’t pay for it, it’s Muda. The elimination of Muda is so critical to manufacturing—including spectacle lens processing—it should be considered long before you add equipment or hire a single person.

The Digital Imposter

In the latest twist on identity theft, hackers are clandestinely taking over business Web sites—and then brazenly billing the customers who visit those sites as if the sites are their own.

Tech Talk: Industry 4.0

For this installment of TechTalk, we asked industry leaders to provide insights on how labs should prepare for the next generation of manufacturing—Industry 4.0. Here are their responses:

Avoid Costly Penalties for Overtime Violations: New Regulations Raise the Stakes

Who qualifies for overtime? More people than ever, thanks to new rules from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), mandating which employees are entitled to extra pay when working more than 40 hours a week. If you’re like most employers, you may be experiencing a resulting surge in your “nonexempt” workforce in your lab—and in your payroll. Moreover, you may find it difficult to decide who is exempt from overtime.

Too Soon to Sigma?

The Sigma Level on the left corresponds to average number of defects you would generally see in one million production opportunities—which is not a completed job but rather an opportunity (or production step) during which a defect may occur; in fact, one process step may have many defect opportunities. For example, surface blocking defects may include off-axis, unwanted prism, eye-4-eye and scratches; among others. That’s at least four opportunities for a defect at one workstation. The resulting yield, then, is the percentage of “good products” produced.



In any optical lab, regardless of size or output, there are two mechanisms always intertwined: optics and manufacturing. As eyewear professionals, we sometimes tend to neglect some of the manufacturing principles that are the foundation of producing great quality eyewear quickly and efficiently. Here are three powerful, but sometimes overlooked, concepts your lab shouldn’t ignore.

Consumables: Your Lab’s Secret Weapon

In the war for profits in optical manufacturing, consumables have become both an important strategy and a weapon to cut costs. Lab owners and managers, equipment manufacturers and consumable vendors say best practices are more important than ever to maximize savings strategies and hit the profit target. Learn 5 key strategies to keep on top of your consumables.


There’s a problem child lurking in the shadows of your lab—it’s polycarbonate swarf (and what to do with it). This challenge impacts everything from your labor operations to your sustainability practices and, of course, your bottom-line disposal costs. Find out the latest update on how to deal with this problem.

Prop 65 Update – The addition of BpA to the list

Whether you are a lab doing business in California or a lab sending jobs to customers in California, this law can impact your business, especially with the addition of Bisphenol A (BpA) a substance used in the making of polycarbonate lenses, to the Prop 65 list of substances known to the state to cause birth defects or reproductive toxicity. 

Resolving Employee Conflicts Can Bolster Profits

Unaddressed workplace conflicts can be costly because they lead to bad things happening. Learn how to spot and resolve these issues that may be affecting your bottom line.

3 Sides of the Automation Equation…Latest Solutions and Smartest StrategieS

Automation is by far the fastest-growing trend in the optical lab business, and virtually every lab falls into one of two camps—either you’re considering it or already implementing it. Find out what the experts in equipment, LMS, and conveyor technologies have to say about keeping up.

8 Steps to Maximize Your Managerial Delegation Effectiveness

Author of the book, Productivity Driven Success: Hidden Secrets of Organizational Efficiency outlines steps for being a better boss.

Romancing the Loan--How to Court Banks for Favorable Terms

Learn how to “court” banks for more favorable terms and save your lab the big bucks in the long run.


Many of today’s optical labs and equipment manufacturers are doing their part to go green. By creating a roadmap and taking incremental steps toward more eco-friendly practices, they are making a meaningful impact—on the environment, as well as their bottom line.

Rx for Health Insurance Costs Obamacare Brings Opportunities and Complexities

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, is both helping and hindering small businesses. While most employers continue to experience health insurance premium increases, others are pleased that the costly illness of one employee can no longer result in skyrocketing premiums for everyone. Employers should also benefit from new online insurance marketplaces, tax credits, and wellness programs.         


Test yourself in 10 vital areas to see what type of manager you are. Learn  Tips for improvement, too.


Saving money and saving the environment can go hand-in-hand when you filter and recycle your lab water.


Get some straight talk and new tools for greening your lab operation from Vision Council expert Mike Vitale, the lens division liaison.


What are the trends in the optical industry that will impact the way you do business? Will you be ready to take advantage of new opportunities on the horizon? Find out where we’re heading and how to be ready.


Learn what it takes to be a great manager and then test yourself with this self-exam in 10 vital areas.


Here’s one way to compete with the “big boys.” Start your own brand of digitally surfaced lenses and be in control of your own destiny. It will be an adventure but one of your own choosing.


A full LMS package is a long-term relationship. Find out the 20 questions you should be asking any LMS partner before you tie the knot.


We all think it’s never going to happen to us, but then disaster strikes. Business owners should hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. From hurricanes to tornadoes, from explosions to bombs, are you prepared?


Who’s watching Washington for you? The Vision Council, that’s who.


Lens cleaning is a lot like the second or third leg in a four-man relay. It’s an essential step that can greatly affect the outcome, but it rarely gets the glory. That second or third leg in your optical lab “relay” is just as likely to be filled by man, machine or robot. Find out how your peers are dealing with this important lab step.


While conferences and educational events can motivate you to make big changes in the workplace, it’s important to make sure you start with implementing small changes so that it’s realistic for your team to jump on board.


Learn what it takes to survive an OSHA inspection with this special report provided by The Vision Council.


Employers are getting hit with higher workers’ compensation costs as the insurance industry changes its calculation for the “experience modification factor,” the critical number in the premium calculation formula.


Check out these lens problem solvers that can solve your customer’s problems, too. Find out how to create a problem solver cheat sheet for your customers that will make the process simple and easy.

Good, Bad, or Just Plain Ugly?

Find out how the new health care laws can help your small business.


Find out the trends in the optical industry that can have a big impact on your business.


The economy is preparing for a rebound as a new year gets underway. Consumers have trimmed their debt loads and large corporations are creating treasure chests of cash to invest when market uncertainties are resolved. Businesses should take steps now to position themselves for a revival of activity.


Check out the results of lab and ECP surveys on warranties and redos, plus the honest opinions of several ECPs on the subject.


More and more labs are turning to private label branding of AR and digital progressive lenses. Why? As one lab put it, “It works. It really works.”

Improving Your Grades

Experienced opticians have graded their lab’s performance. While they gave them an “A for effort” the overall grade was a “B.” Find out some simple suggestions for bringing your grade up to a solid “A.”

Out-of-Control Operating Costs

Lowering operational costs is imperative to surviving tough economic times. Learn new strategies for saving money in areas you may have overlooked.

Surprise DOL Visits on the Rise

Find out what to do if Department of Labor (DOL) investigators show up unannounced at your lab.

WORKLOAD RISING? Stay Afloat with Automation

Is your lab flooded by increasing work, drowning in breakage, or tired of the torturous trickle of inconsistent quality? Labs are increasingly turning to automation to solve these problems.

A BALANCING ACT: Lens Inventory & Reordering

Find out how to keep in balance, cut down reordering  and save money from inventory expert Rick Tinson.


On-Blocking Manufacturing (OBM) is proving process stream lining, faster production and gained efficiencies.


Get insights into training strategies from both labs and manufacturers.


Take the six-question quiz to find out if you are consumable savvy or consumable naive.


Many labs are taking a “wait-and-see” stance when it comes to the single block system. One lab, however, is willing to be the first to try this industry-changing concept.

FOCUS ON MANAGEMENT: The Seven Rules of Success according to Steve Jobs

Discover the seven principles that drove Steve Jobs’ success.


There are few things more nerve-racking than moving your lab and keeping your customers happy at the same time. Find out how one lab accomplished this daunting task.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER - The 4 Key Components for Successful Free-Form Integration

Thinking about getting into free-form? Our free-form expert presents the four key components for successful free-form integration.

FOCUS ON HR: Increased NLRB and Union Activity Puts Employers on Alert

Relief felt by employers over repeated failed attempts to revive the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) may be premature as employers face new pressures.

Optical Laboratory Web Sites...What Makes a Winner?

Find out who the Top Ten optical laboratory Web sites are for 2011, and what their customers had to say about them.

The Good, The Bad, and the Better: Alloys and Non-Alloys in the Lab

There have always been advantages and disadvantages to using alloy, but up until recently, optical labs haven’t had many viable alternatives. Find out what’s new in non-alloy blocking material from the experts.

Social Media: It's Not About You

Learn how social media can work for your lab and once you are onboard, what do you say.

Labs and Retailers Duke It Out to Make Frame-to-Come Work

There are a number of issues that need to be worked out to enable frame-to-come ordering to liveup to its potential.

Right on Track: Lab Automation and Efficiencies

Increasing automation is a critical component to crossing the finish line with higher efficiency.

Focus On HR: Understanding the Law for Workers and Internships

Thinking about hiring an intern to work at your lab? You might want to think again.

Sparking the Right Connection; Why Choosing the Right LMS System is Critical to Your Success

Find out why choosing the right LMS system is critical to your success.

Web Awards

Find out who won the Trash to Treasure finishing pad contest and who the top ten web sites are for 2010.

Reducing Employee Turnover in Your Lab

Helpful tips on reducing employee turnover in your lab.

What Health Care Reform Means for Your Small Business, Part 2

Find out how to get help with the new requirements and how the law helps optometrists, and therefore, the optical laboratory.

A Balancing Act: Automation & Employees

Does increased automation really eliminate the need for employees altogether? If not, what’s the ideal relationship between automation and employee resources? How can a lab find the right balance—and get the most out of—both these critical resources?

Cutting Costs with Consumables

Learn top strategies from the experts for stretching every dollar AND getting the best results.

Will You Sink or Swim With Automation and Robotics?

Not too far downstream, automation and robotics will comprise a technological life raft that will make all the difference between “sink or swim” for optical labs. Find out what your peers are saying about this technology.

Focus on Standards

Standards can be a lab’s best friend. Jeff Endres suggests all you have to do is get involved.

What Health Care Reform Means for Your Small Business, Part 1

Find out how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), will impact your business… for better or worse.

Focus on HR: Human Resource Outsourcing: Optimizing Lab Performance and Profitability

Human Resource Outsourcing: Optimizing Lab Performance and Profitability

Going Green and Saving Green Part II

How Today’s Manufacturers are Helping You Reach Your Sustainability Goals

Going Green and Saving Green: Create a More Eco-Friendly & Profitable Lab

Learn top strategies for creating a more eco-friendly and profitable lab, in part 1 of Going Green.

It Takes a Village...Tricks of the Trade

Your peers share some lens processing tricks and general tips for operating an optical lab.

Focus on HR Assuming Leadership: The First 100 Days

Learn a few key actions that should be taken when assuming any new leadership role.

Focus on HR...Seven Reasons Why Employees Leave

Nearly 90 percent of bosses think their employees quit to make more money. Nearly 90 percent of bosses are wrong. Find out why employees really leave their jobs.

Weathering the Economic Storm

Learn how today's labs are surviving, even thriving, amidst an economic slump.

Solving the Consumables Puzzle--Faster, Better, Cheaper

In order to help labs become more successful, manufacturers have designed new consumables to give labs an edge, with products that improve profitability.


Learn how your peers are educating their customers to not only improve revenues for their clients but for themselves as well.


Three New York-based optical companies—1-800-OptiSource, Santinelli International and Universal Photonics—offer up five steps to success in a slumping economy.


Focusing on rewarding top achievers gives rise to challenges. Learn how to meet those challenges to ensure you keep your best employees motivated.

Focus on HR

How to Retain Your Most Essential Assets

The Dynamics of Digitally Surfaced Lenses

Industry leaders answer your questions on digitally surfaced lenses.

Dynamics of Digitally Surfaced Lenses

Welcome to our digital panel discussion. This new feature will appear in each issue of LabTalk in 2009.

Continuous Renewal: Managing your lab for the upside.

Learn how to manager your lab for the upside by fostering and managing continuous renewal.


Gas, postage, healthcare, electricity…all these non-optical laboratory specific costs of doing business are going up. Learn how labs are handling “all the little things” that impact their business.

Remote Ordering All Grown Up

Learn the status of remote ordering and how you can improve your use of this valuable, time-saving process.

Tracking Down Lab Breakage & Errors

The clues to solving a crime are similar to discovering why a certain error is reoccurring in your lab.They both lie in the knowledge of what is constant or "normal" and what is different.

Cleaning Up Your Consumables Process Part II

Following up on our article in the October issue of LabTalk, we’re now examining strategies for success and the products that support those strategies.

Tricks of the Trade for Optical Labs

Industry experts offer advice on everything from process AR to employee turnover rates.

Keeping It Green - Your Lab's Environmental Program

Certified hazard control manager, Roger Hill, presents the basic steps for developing an environmental management system for your lab.

Focus on HR - Senior Workers are in HIgh Demand

Experienced, dependable, motivated and productive, these are just some of the qualities of the senior worker.

Drilling for Better Results

Advancements in rimless eyewear fabrication.

Direct Surfacing... Is It Really Better?

Learn the differences between the old processing techniques and direct surfacing techniques and find out if the new process is actually a better way to make lenses.

8th Annual Optical Laboratory Web Site of the Year Award

Congratulations to Laramy-K Optical for being selected as the Optical Laboratory Web Site of the Year by ECPs. Find out what the judges had to say about the top ten sites and compare your Web site to these industry leaders.

Focus on HR - Monitoring Service Providers

12 tips for selecting and monitoring service providers for your employee benefit plan.

Juggling Your Inventory Resources, Part II

After discussing inventory planning, fill rates and maximizing efficiencies in Part I, Part II will discuss the keys to a successful stockroom including accuracy, efficiency and minimal additional costs.

Juggling Your Inventory Resources, Part I

The proliferation of new lens designs and line extensions mean that labs must make some hard choices about their on-hand inventory. Find out how to save money by effectively managing this resource.

What’s Slowing Down Your Workflow?

Imagine a world with no lines, highways with no traffic, and your lab without giant stacks of stagnant work trays. It's possible by taking an engineering approach to improving and managing the way trays flow through your building.

Receiving Orders Via the Internet & Remote Tracing

Learn the ins and outs of remote ordering and frame tracing from the people who write the software to make it all possible.

Bright Ideas for Avoiding Consumable Mistakes

Find out the most common mistakes labs make when it comes to consumables and learn tips on how to avoid them.

Adding a Second Shift… Opportunities & Challenges You Should Know Before You Start

The strength of a multiple shift operation is the utilization of equipment. But just adding more people isn't always easy. Find out how two labs have added a second shift and are making it work.

Focus on HR - Three Key HR Practices

Hiring based on fit, creating a familiy-like environment, and empowerment and discretion are the three ingrediants to creating higher profits and reducing turnover.

How Edging Precision Affects Drill Mounted Eyewear

Processing drill-mounted eyewear requires greater axis accuracy than regular plastic or metal frames. A slight axis twist that could be overlooked or adjusted in other frame types will result in a re-do for drill mounted rimless glasses.

The Often Overlooked Shipping Department

What if we consider the shipping department as the final step in processing any order, as a point of customer service and as a possible profit center? There are opportunities that exist when the shipping department is considered in a new light.

Reach for the Stars - Achieving & Maintaining Stellar Customer Service

Consider the following "best practices" in use by some of today's leading labs.

Finding Riches in Niches - Pursuing safety eyewear clients

Creating a safety eyewear program is easier than you think, creating a win-win situation for the lab and the ECP.

Focus on HR - World Class Worker's Compensation - Part 2

Avoiding accidents and keeping employees safe are the first steps in managing worker's compensation. But accidents can still happen. Learn how to manage a worker's compensation claim effectively after the accident.

Occupational Safety - What You Should Know About OSHA

As a lab owner, it's your responsibility to protect your employees from injury at work. Learn the steps you should take to protect your employees and your business.

All Aboard for Rimless Eyewear - This train keeps chugging along

Rimless eyewear used to strike fear into the bravest of lab rat. But today with new materials and equipment, rimless eyewear is chugging along, full steam ahead.

It's Not Rocket Science - Lab management software systems

Understanding the right questions to ask will bring you the answers you need for selecting the best lab management software system.

Focus on HR - World Class Worker's Compensation - Part 1

Learn the ins and outs of managing workers' compensation claims and how these claims can impact your business.

Common Pitfalls & How to Avoid Them - Part 2

Part 1 covered common mistakes made in surfacing a lens. In Part 2, you'll learn how to avoid common mistakes made in the fining and polishing processes.

Transitions Optical 2006 Lab of the Year - Toledo Optical

For the first time in the history of the award, an optical laboratory has won the coveted Transitions Lab of the Year award on two separate occasions.

Common Pitfalls & How to Avoid Them - Part 1

By taking a closer look at the small and often overlooked areas in your lab, you will discover common mistakes that can easily be avoided and keep your lab out of big trouble.

Focus on HR - Post Merger Tips for Successful Staff Integration

With independent labs being purchased almost every month, it's wise to study up on steps you can take to make the transition as painless as possible.

Last Resort Lab, the cure for indigestion

Your lab just received an order for a lens with a cylinder in the 17.00 D range. Yikes! Don't freak out. There is a lab that specializes in just this type of thing and they are there to help you.

To Sell Or Not To Sell? That Is the Question

As large lens manufacturers continue their current acquisition strategies, more and more independent laboratories are faced with tough questions about the future of their business.

Precision, Perfection, Calibration - Why Calibration is Important

By investing energy into doing things right the first time and calibrating your equipment on a regular basis, you can prevent problems before they arise.

Transforming Your Finishing Operation

Learn how to transform this department and reduce spoilage while improving the quality of the product coming out of your lab.

Use Lab Management Software to Search

Like a well-trained investigator, your lab management software is equipped with everything you need to search out problems before they cost you money.

Focus on HR - Retaining Your Lab's Human Assets

Learn how to keep turnover to a minimum and keep your best employees around for the long haul.

VCA Data Standards, Improve Efficiency & Make More $$$

Learn how drilling points can improve your efficiency in the lab, saving you time and money.

Motivating Employees

How do you motivate your valuable employees to keep coming to work and doing the best job possible? Learn some proven methods to keep your team happy.

Why They Walk

Want to know why you lose customers? It's not always about the price. Gain insights on how to keep your accounts happy and loyal by finding out why they leave.

What It Takes to Be Transitions Lab of the Year

Diversified Ophthalmics talks about their strategies for becoming the 2005 Transitions Optical Lab of the Year.

Focus on HR - Selecting Human Assets for Your Lab

 Lab owners learn valuable tips on how to hire and keep the best people for your lab.

No Lab is an Island - Getting the Most from Your Lab Association

Learn why lab owners often belong to more than one association and how this helps their business grow.

The Silent Efficiency Killer - Making a Case for Automatic Tray Handling

Ever wonder why even with plenty of machines and manpower your output is still hard to predict? If you are still moving trays around by hand, you could be sabotaging your output.

Have You Been Framed? Why Labs Should Be in the Frame Business

If you aren't selling frames through your lab you are missing the opportunity to increase your sales and offer a valuable service to your clients.

Recruitment and Retention: Business Myths and Reality

Focus on HR - Learn how to keep good people on the job and create a great place to work.

Overheard at the OLA - The Next BIG Idea

What's the next BIG idea? From lab owners to vendors, everyone has an opinion on what the next big idea will be for optical laboratories. Check it out!

Keeping It Clean

Cleaning surface blocks keeps the alloy cleaner and creates better adhesion.

Keeping Count - Automated Inventory Systems

Still counting how many lenses you have in stock by hand? Learn some of the advantages of automating this process in your lab.

Become a Lean, Mean, Quality Control Machine

Learn how to control quality by diligently designing, monitoring and maintaining a manufacturing process based on prevention and not on inspection.

The Realities of Remote Lab Ordering

While remote ordering technology has been around since computers, only a small percentage of ECPs are using the technology. Find out the ins and outs of using remote ordering and tracing and what the benefits and downsides can be.

It's Not Easy Being Green

Learn how to put together a complete chemical management program and keep the EPA and OSHA wolves at bay.