Rob Thorpe joined RPO largely due to its potential. “I look at RPO as a young and growing company,” he said. He appreciates that the owner was willing to invest in the company’s future – a future that he is now helping to shape. We spoke to Rob about current initiatives and improvements happening at RPO.
What are you working on right now?
So many things – we are attempting to streamline and improve the efficiency of manufacturing. We are also working on ways to reduce price and lead time to give our customers a competitive edge.
Are these efforts resulting in measurable results for the customer?
By streamlining manufacturing, we were able to achieve 4x the output for lens objectives and drive yields to over 98% overall. We have also automated many of our processes, from handling to cleaning and optical inspection. We now complete 100% of inspection by automation in one of our precision plastic optics programs. Of course, we also personally inspect at a level to meet customer specifications. We’re looking to implement automation in other areas of assembly as well, such as doublet building.
Are you seeing a significant impact on FOD (foreign object debris) with your investment in automation?
Dealing with FOD is a constant battle when putting together assemblies. Cleanliness of parts going into assembly is one area of focus for us. The less manual cleaning you have to do in the cleanroom, the better for the assembly and our customer. As an assembly process is defined we are focused on eliminating FOD at every step.
Beyond FOD programs, we are improving quality and consistency through broader process improvements. All of our products have work instructions in place, moving optical manufacturing from art to science. Our industrial engineers are looking at every process to improve repeatability. Documented processes improve our ability to scale rapidly for a customer.
What questions should a customer ask about manufacturing?
They should ask, “What’s your investment for staying current with equipment?” We’re lucky at RPO that our owner is willing to invest in equipment, and we have a strong roadmap to ensure that we have the latest equipment to manufacture product efficiently.
Assemblies, both glass and plastics, is an area where we excel. Our glass molding operation is world-class. We’re seeing growth in our catalog lens business, and we're very cost competitive. RPO is also easy to work with; we entertain a lot of things that other companies won’t. We are able to provide complete solutions, and if we aren’t able to help, we will find a partner who is.
Customers should also ask, “How do you help improve my supply chain?”
RPO’s supply chain is diverse. We have a worldwide presence and a Chinese-based office for sourcing. All of our resources help reduce delivery risk for customers and allow us to deliver a quality product with the shortest lead time. We truly believe in customer service at all levels.
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