Caledonian Optical is in advanced stages of planning a trebling of its current lens manufacturing space in Aberdeen.
Sustainability underpins all aspects of the move, as Mark Robertson, Head of Manufacturing, who celebrates 30 years at Caledonian this autumn, explained –
“We need an increased capacity – not just for the work of the 45-strong Duncan & Todd group to which the lab belongs, but also for our independent customers throughout the UK. We take sustainability very seriously and our move to new premises is the ideal opportunity to address this with a completely different mind-set from a few years ago. We have been manufacturing our own lenses in Aberdeen for more than 40 years and our ability to control all aspects of production, including in-house AR coating, means we do not have to out- source. This has become an important factor for our customers who like the fact that our products are made in the UK.
“Traditionally glazing production has been water-based but like many other UK labs we are moving to very accurate Italian dry cutting technology. The fantastic Mei 641 TBA uses suction to hold the lenses, removing the need for using traditional blocking pads which are then discarded.”
Caledonian’s investment in two of these machines is matched by a focus on surfacing. While still reliant on water for the Schneider technology process, a new waste management system will enable the water to be re-used for production, whilst filtering out the waste plastic material, thereby greatly reducing the amount of product sent to landfill.
“Another benefit of this is that you don’t have to keep stopping the machine in order to empty the waste tanks and this is so much more efficient for production runs.”
Additional on-site storage space means that Caledonian will be doing more bulk-buying thereby reducing the number of deliveries to the lab.
“Packaging is also a big theme – in everything our team of 35 do we ask ourselves how can we make it more sustainable? We are moving away from non-recyclable packaging. My holy grail is to have a paperless system for all orders in production, but we are not there yet.”
Established in 1976, Caledonian Optical was originally set up as the dedicated lab for the 45-strong Duncan & Todd Opticians group, but now supplies businesses throughout the UK and Eire. Having expanded considerably, Caledonian also provides a comprehensive Rx safety eyewear service, with digital lenses for all varifocal options.
“We are now producing varifocals with the latest variable front surface technology and sophisticated digital compensated designs to provide the highest levels of visual comfort – the way forward for premium lenses. Our BS EN ISO 9001 2000 is a great assurance of quality,” he said.
“We gain much from being OSA members, particularly speaking with our peers in the lens focus group. The changes in legislation and the regular updates are very important to us. Optics is a small world and it is great to connect – this is a great benefit of membership as it helps us continue to grow in the right direction. We are keen to operate to the highest standards and this attracted us to continue to be a part of OSA,” added Mark.