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PP Control & Automation’s strategic manufacturing outsourcing service is helping bring new tele-optometry solutions to market at a time when remote technology is in huge demand.
EYOTO™ is a world leader in the creation of advanced tele-optometry solutions for the global optical industry.
The company, which originated as a spin-out from the prestigious Aston University School of Optometry, is using its expertise in image processing, computer vision, machine, learning, artificial intelligence and ophthalmic user interface design to bring remote platform eyecare solutions to market.
It started life as a developer of white label technologies before taking the decision to launch its own product in the shape of eMap™, the world’s first edge to edge, fully digitised, remotely accessible lens analysis system.
The aim with this technology is to give global eye care companies and retailers the opportunity to bring lenses to life at the click of a button, with incredibly advanced surface inspection and full-colour power maps in just 55 seconds.
R&D and Product Development are EYOTO’s main strengths, so when it came to building the eMap devices, the company decided to go down the route of outsourcing the manufacturing.
The thinking was simple. By using a specialist, the firm could speed up time to market, so crucial to maximising the commercial benefits of the technology, whilst also leaving its experts free to concentrate on core business activities.
Executing the strategy was somewhat more difficult, with the initial choice of manufacturing partner not going as planned, with quality, lead times and supply chain management all major issues and leaving the EYOTO team considering alternative options with the clock ticking on meeting confirmed orders already in the pipeline.
The only solution left was to try to find another contract manufacturing specialist that could quickly pick up the project and this is where PP Control & Automation (PP C&A) came into the equation.
With a track record of supporting 25 of the world’s largest machinery builders, the West Midlands-based company used its proven product introduction methodology to take on the eMap™ contract in a matter of weeks.
Learning ‘on the product’ was accelerated, with a joint ‘Design for Manufacturing’ exercise undertaken during the first few machine builds, quickly identifying a number of aesthetic improvements and functional changes behind the enclosure covers.
Garry Myatt, Sales Director at PP C&A, commented: “EYOTO had been let down badly and needed a partner they could trust to pick things up and put in place a full manufacturing line that would deliver substantial quantities within the first six months.
“Our ability to have the right skills available in engineering competence, cable preparation and creation, electro-mechanical build and assembly meant we had the majority of what we needed under one roof and then it was simply case of designing the build process.
“One of the key things we did was to invest over £150,000 into a new dedicated Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) and Complex Box Build manufacturing area specifically for eMap™ and similar products going forward.”
He continued: “This ensures that the customer requirements and legal compliance to the recognised standards are met and involved the installation of special flooring, benches and test equipment – all grounded to earth to ensure that life of the electronics is protected from potential electrostatic discharge.”
PP Control & Automation, which works with 25 of the world’s largest machinery builders, is now targeting up to £2m of new opportunities where this dedicated and controlled environment will help it take on more complex and delicate builds encompassing high-end PCB assemblies and box builds.
PP Control & Automation and EYOTO are now six months into its strategic outsourcing relationship and eMap™ devices have been built and delivered to customers in the UK and overseas with further orders in play to deliver throughout 2020 and 2021.
Despite little set-up time, all deadlines have been met on schedule and a number of design improvements have been incorporated to make it easier to manufacture going forward – crucial when scaling up and targeting global retailers who demand product immediately.
The partnership has been built on transparency and trust, with any issues and faults quickly identified and overcome by tapping into the collaborative expertise of engineers and designers at both firms.
“Engaging with PP Control & Automation removed a lot of the stress we were under, as we quickly realised it would deliver on the manufacturing side of things, leaving us free to concentrate on what we do best,” explained Claire Mchaddan, Vice President of Product Development at EYOTO.
“We went from being in a very difficult position with no manufacturing partner to meeting all of our forward production targets…better still, we now have a dedicated cell to help us scale up eMap™ volumes and embed future technology launches.
“I was immediately impressed with the company’s ‘can-do’ attitude. Nothing was too much trouble and, after being let down badly before, I immediately knew that this firm would deliver.
“This is just the start. We have a major technology roadmap in place that will involve the regular introduction of new products, especially with Covid-19 increasing the importance and need for remote ophthalmic equipment.
“We are confident that PP C&A has the capacity, skills and design for manufacture expertise to play a crucial role in all of these new product introductions.”
EYOTO is already well on the way to launching its next tele-optometry solution, this time bringing one of the eyecare sector’s most traditional pieces of equipment into the 21st century.
The first product in the tele-optometry platform will allow an Eye Care Practitioner (ECP) to conduct an eye examination from a remote location – a different room, city, or continent. It eliminates the need for an ECP to be physically present with the patient and this will be followed by a complementary pipeline of remote and mobile technology offers.
There is massive interest in this new technology and the first machines will go into production by the end of 2020.
As the years have gone by, the relationship between the two businesses has become more interlinked, with PP C&A increasingly being asked to be involved in the design stage of new machine builds.
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