End of January, Roger Gil, Quality Manager at Prats Company in Barcelona kindly answered my questions concerning the Spanish Market in general and Prats in particular.
How is the Spanish market currently?
According to FEDAO (Spanish Optics Federation), the first semester of 2008 was not significantly bad compared with the previous one, but it’s true the second semester of 2008 was undoubtedly worst than the first one, although we have a
stable situation if we take a look to other markets with products more dispensable than ours. Forecasts are up-and-coming for 2009. Inside our market, chains and franchise groups are becoming more influential. Thus, lots of independent
opticians are joining groups in order to obtain higher benefits.
Could you briefly describe Prat’s philosophy and activity?
We are primarily manufacturers of prescription lenses, from surfacing to the edging process. We try to provide a good relationship between quality, service and price to our customers, in order to eliminate the need to import Asian products, in such a way we offer a better value and a more efficient delivery time, which is also key in our market.
What is the speciality of Prats Company?
Flexibility to meet current customer needs and their future needs. We are focused on what customers expect from a partner by being more than solely a supplier.
That means we succeed in making things easier for them for example linking the IT systems of both the Optician and Prats, not only concerning orders and invoices, but by tracking their existing orders in real time. We also give them the opportunity to reduce costs by solving all edging problems through our remote edge software application, that gives a total freedom to modify whatever you could imagine to adapt the lenses to the wearer (e.g. edge shape or drill position) and easily order them from their computers. Customers are continuously interacting with us and that leads to obtaining higher value-added processes for both of us.
Your lab is a model of automation and technology. Why did Prats decide to invest in this direction?
We realise that the only way to compete against the Asian market is through automation. In this way we reduce labour costs as well as decrease errors in production in order to achieve nearly zero errors at the end of the process to the benefit of the wearer’s eyes. Concerning our local competitors, we are able to react to market changes faster than others by optimizing the capabilities of our facilities and our size. We are large enough to compete with the big ones and small enough to make fast and suitable decisions so there is actually a customer benefit arising from the automation and technologies used in our lab.
After the installation of the A&R machines, have you noticed a higher degree satisfaction from your customers?
Of course we have noticed that our quality control criteria remain so stable according to the standards and that will allow us to reach our main goal of zero errors. I think we did a good job developing our last machine together because it has made it possible to close the whole production cycle by means of controlling, blocking and pad printing all kind of lenses and specifically, finished edged ones, I mean, those ones ready to be mounted on a frame. To be honest, we’re very proud of it. Both Prats’ image and customer satisfaction are firmly growing more than ever in the same direction.
Thanks very much, Roger!