SLUGFest attendees visiting technology pod demos in the showroom

SATISLOH welcomed more than 100 customers from around the globe to their 10th SLUGFest Meeting, “The Art of Making Lenses – Reimagined,” at the company’s Wetzlar, Germany facility from June 13 to 16. The three-day educational and networking event showcased 29 of the company’s innovations in two locations.

The majority of the new technologies were installed in an 800-square-meter showroom that was specially designed for SLUGFest, many of them incorporated into a fully automated production line. In their R&D Lab, several transformative technologies that will impact labs and lens production in the future were previewed. Small groups of customers rotated through 12 technology pods for close-up demonstrations and had their questions answered by company experts. The innovations and evolutions presented impact virtually every lab process, from job tickets to lab automation, to manufacturing software to fluid management, to generating, coating and finishing.

“It was exciting to welcome everyone to Wetzlar—often called the birthplace of optical manufacturing,” says Andy Huthoefer, Satisloh’s vice president of product management and marketing. “We wanted them to see our innovations up close while having the opportunity to speak directly with our team about how these technologies can improve their productivity. Additionally, they got to enjoy the beautiful German countryside and network with their peers.”

Efficiency-driving innovations included the VFT-orbit 2i, the new version of the world’s most popular generator featuring intelligent self-diagnostics and ACI-Theia, an advanced Automated Cosmetic Inspection System. When these machines are combined with Satisloh’s upgraded MES-360 Manufacturing Execution System, both machine health data and corresponding lens quality data can be processed in the cloud using big data algorithms based on artificial intelligence (AI). This will create a digitalized eco-system that detects the onset of quality defects and suggests countermeasures even before quality thresholds are exceeded.

Simplification removes complexity, saving time and reducing costs, and Satisloh showed many examples of technologies simplifying operations at SLUGFest. The company’s new E-ticket, an electronic job ticket, eliminates the clutter of paper tickets and dynamically displays only the information needed in a given area of the lab. Attendees also previewed the company’s Blockless Surfacing feasibility study, the award-winning front and backside Film Lamination that drastically reduces coating complexity, and a revolutionary edging hybrid concept that combines a quick roughing step with building an elastic bevel using an additive process, improving first-fit rates and potentially even opening the door to automated mounting.

Satisloh rolled out their new long-term sustainability strategy. “While we have invested in sustainable products for many years, we are now committing to an even broader campaign that expands beyond products and services,” says Xavier Bultez, vice president, integrated solutions. “This expanded program also includes responsible operations management to reduce our carbon footprint, investing in our staff and their workplace and promoting the cause of providing vision to underserved people around the world.” Some of the new products shown that support sustainable lens manufacturing were the Hydra-Brush-4, a compact and water preserving brush cleaner, and the RWS rinsewater recycling system that works with all manufacturers’ digital polishers and saves up to 90 percent of rinsewater.

A new blended learning concept exemplified the partnership pillar—Satisloh’s new iAcademy combines e-learning with their popular hands-on training program. Attendees also learned about a new Self-Serve Customer Portal that includes access to a Knowledge Base with maintenance manuals, how-to maintenance videos and various product documentation; a convenient e-store for consumables and parts; and coming soon, a service cockpit.

Other technologies that attendees previewed included a manual polisher, Multi-FLEX-M, that gives smaller labs access to universal tool polishing and Satisloh’s next generation high-volume, dry-cut industrial edger, newly designed from the ground up.

Day two kicked off with content experts speaking about sustainability and artificial intelligence. Dr. Sven J. Koerner, PhD, with over 10 years of corporate experience in artificial intelligence, talked about how AI can be put to good use in any industry and is something to be embraced, not feared. The sustainability duo, Dr. Jochen Gassner, global senior director of commercial and delivery at South Pole, and Eric Mugnier, partner at EY within the climate change and sustainability French practice, told the group how to develop and implement an effective sustainability strategy.

After informational days, Satisloh’s guests enjoyed entertaining activities including dinner at a medieval castle with views of the German countryside; a German meal at a traditional Frankfurt Cider restaurant and testing their pit stop skills and electric car driving agility at a Formula One racetrack.

“SLUGFest is a unique event, and we’re honored that customers made the time to join us. Learning more about their individual businesses and challenges helps Satisloh to be a better partner and provide the tools that support our customers in reaching their goals,” concludes Satisloh CEO Bruno Fischer.

–Andrew Karp