Lithuanian manufacturers help see the world through different eyes
Real and true miracles take place in the modern building located near the forest in Guobstai village, Trakai district. In a few hours lenses are made from simple plastic pieces. These lenses help many people to see the world through different eyes.
A member of the BOD Group of companies, the Baltic Optical Dimension (hereinafter BOD) factory, producing lenses for glasses for only three months, is part of a growing industry. According to Vytautas Tuminas, CEO of the enterprise, this is the most sophisticated factory producing lenses in the Baltic States and has achieved a real breakthrough in only a short period of time.
The number of orders is increasing
”The adaptation period was better than we could have expected. The enterprise is not a testing ground: we receive orders every day and the number of orders has been increasing. In turn, we constantly engage our new partners, retail optical shop networks, which transfer orders from end consumers to us," commented V. Tuminas.
According to him, the enterprise neither produces nor sells frames, but such plans have not been shelved. Currently direct relationships are maintained with opticians, who serve individuals requiring glasses of one type or another.
The lens factory in cooperation with optical shops in Lithuania and abroad has already produced individualised monofocal lenses – for those suffering from short-sightedness or long-sightedness – as well as bifocal lenses. However, employees of the company proudly talk about the centrepiece of production, which is multifocal lenses, including progressive ones, produced according to individual orders.
The centrepiece of company products
Progressive lenses are anything but simple lenses. Zones of different dioptres are incorporated in the progressive lens; thus, they ensure good vision for an individual at different distances whether they are looking at distant or close objects. You do not need to have different glasses for reading, driving or watching TV if you have glasses with progressive lenses – they are suitable for all situations.
Why have such lenses not yet been used by some people? They have one limitation: a progressive lens should be produced individually for each person, thus, it is rather expensive. Moreover, Lithuanian citizens who finally resolved to spend money had to wait at least two weeks for lenses to be delivered. BOD has committed to shortening the waiting time and creating preconditions to reduce their price in the retail market.
"There is one smaller factory of such type in Riga. Several bigger factories are located in Poland, but their technological levels are rather different. Thus, one could wait up to several weeks after ordering progressive lenses, and we are able to supply the product in a few days. In addition, competitive pricing is one of our criteria. Consequently, there are preconditions for the product to become cheaper for the final consumer.
The BOD product is a premium-segment product. As a rule, such products are not affordable for everyone. We came to the market committed to offering unique products at an attractive price," said the CEO of the enterprise, listing the advantages of Lithuanian producers.
The maximal capacity of the modern production line is up to 4000 pieces of individualised lenses in 24 hours. V. Tuminas makes no secret of the fact that the Lithuanian market is too small for such amounts. All optical centres have been mainly engaged in business with foreign producers and suppliers. About 95% of the market up to now has been stocked with individualised lenses from Poland, Czech Republic, Italy, France, Germany and other countries.
"The biggest part of the market is currently oriented towards the final product – a lens that is stored in a storage house. What do we see in the market? Glasses in one hour. Finished lenses are stored in storage facilities. Then they are selected, cut and inserted into a frame. This has nothing in common with the optimal optical power, alignment, or optimizing adjustment individually for a specific consumer. The accent of our enterprise is production according to specific parameters and for an individual.
There are many parameters determining individualisation of lenses for glasses. Lenses for glasses are selected considering specific physiological parameters of the face, parameters of the frame, curvatures and distances. This is a substantial feature making a difference for comparing with products coming on a mass scale from Asia and Europe. A universal product is not the best solution. Anyhow, everything will turn towards individualisation in the nearest future," forecasted V. Tuminas.
According to him, it is time to recognise that the cheapest lenses cannot be inserted into expensive, branded frames. A costumer should understand the importance of vision and its influence on health.
"To experience complete comfort one should buy individualised lenses and to see the world through different eyes", seconded Head of Sales Department Tautvydas Monkeliūnas.
Information is a must
The head of the lens producer Baltic Optical Dimension V. Tuminas has stated that clients of optical salons are insufficiently informed about progressive lenses, their properties and their influence on the quality of vision. People using these lenses for the first time can experience discomfort for some time.
"A person should be informed that some individuals need an adaptation period. This period can last from a week to few months in some cases. It could result in the resentment of an uninformed person: ‘I paid money and cannot wear my glasses!’
But maybe it is not the lenses that should be blamed. It could be that the measurements were inaccurate or an inappropriate frame was chosen. In certain cases, ophthalmologists do not recommend glasses with progressive lenses at all for some patients. It is obvious that consistent and explicit education of consumers is required in this area", explained V. Tuminas about the shortage of information potentially affecting people who want to buy glasses.
Unique German equipment has been installed in the factory
The MODULO line for lens production from the German Schneider company has been installed in the BOD factory producing lenses for glasses, which is the first such line in Europe and the third in the world, after USA (Sacramento) and Hong-Kong. Schneider has been recognized in Germany as one of the leading introducers of innovations. The MODULO line has been presented in exhibitions only in the last year and currently is the best solution available worldwide.
"The technology we apply is known in the optical community. But we have implemented a state-of-art level of automation – a conveyor-based production system and quality control equipment enable monitoring and control of each and every order. A lot of data is used during the production process of lenses for glasses. These data, after specific computerised calculation, are transferred to the surface of lens, creating unique designs and optimal optical power on the entire lens area. The highest precision is one of the cornerstones of this production", said V. Tuminas.
The equal of worldwide leaders
CEO of the company was happy with the positive feedback received during the first months of business activities.
"We also have clients from Latvia and Estonia. It has been maintained that lenses produced in our factory are equal to those produced by worldwide leaders. We have one of the best technologies ever developed, and experienced staff, which was trained by our German partners and further delves into the details of production", said V. Tuminas with satisfaction.
Senior operator Julius Babarykinas left his position in the laboratory of the famous optics company Zeiss in Great Britain and came to the factory of the enterprise located near Vilnius.
"Previously I worked for the enterprise belonging to the BOD Group. I came back for vacation and popped in to see my former colleagues. They told me: ‘A position for a person with your qualifications is available.’ I always linked my future with Lithuania, thus I did not hesitate for long – what a splendid opportunity. BOD Group with its technologies and business is a company one willingly comes back to", said Julius.
The sun determines demand
Despite the fact that progressive lenses are very important for the BOD factory, much attention has been paid to other types of individualised lenses.
Professionals monitoring the tendencies in the market and attending specialised optics exhibitions have noticed that sun-correction lenses have been gaining importance in the market. They prevent the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays during the sunny season.
"We are able to produce polarised as well as photochromic lenses for glasses that darken in the light, protecting the eyes from the sun. We produce sunglasses with dioptres for drivers, athletes and motorcyclists. We can easily produce lenses for curved glasses, which are used by racers and bicyclists. Oh yes, there are other producers, but such glasses were very expensive and they required significant time to produce before now", BOD Head of Sales Department T. Monkeliūnas, said about the company's portfolio.
Producers of lenses for glasses recently entering the market have accorded BOD with praise: BOD has a very large technological capacity. If they are not able to produce something, no one can.
Gave presents to employees
The company has planned to cover 15% of the Lithuanian market of individualised lenses and up to 10% of that market in the Baltic States before 2016. The intentions are not to restrict the activities within the Baltic region only, but to import production to other European countries – Scandinavia, Poland and Spain.
The company cooperated closely with ophthalmologist and optometrist societies as well as with budgetary and private clinics. There are intensions to act proactively in the segment of voluntary health insurance (VHI), developing attractive offers for networks of optical shops and the final VHI beneficiaries.
The management board of the factory has discussed with responsible officers of Lithuania the new reimbursement models and promised to create special conditions for elderly people and for those with lower income or children to buy the modern lenses for a lower price.
"We have ongoing discussions with the responsible authorities regarding the new reimbursement models and programme development for statutory officers as well as elderly people, aiming to promote the use of lenses for glasses. Such models have been implemented in many countries of the European Union. We are able to offer the market products with high added value. As a result, money will remain in Lithuania and the taxes paid will replenish the state budget", shared V. Tuminas.
BOD did not forget its one enterprise and all staff members of the BOD Group. All staff members of the group of companies suffering from lesser or major vision disorders have received as a gift glasses with lenses produced in the new enterprise producing lenses for glasses.