Bangkok flooding hits supply of prescriptions lenses to Australia

The Bangkok ‘super laboratory’ produces the lion’s share of the company’s free-form progressive-power prescription lenses for markets worldwide. It is unlikely to resume production for weeks, perhaps months, due to the damage done to machinery by the flooding that was said to be several metres deep at the time we went to press, with a massive amount of water from the north expected to further flood the area where the laboratory is situated, as well as other areas.
With Hoya’s ‘super laboratory’ out of action, the company is taking ergency action, including lens orders that would have been sent there from Australia being sent to Malaysia, Korea and Hong Kong for manufacture.
Hoya Australia says it expects “to have capacity available from Hoya laboratories in Malaysia, Korea and Hong Kong within 7-10 days, with most services to return to normal shortly thereafter”.
Observers dispute that, claiming it could be months, perhaps into 2012 before that can happen and that the Sydney laboratory does not produce market-leading free-form lenses, along with other Hoya laboratories that have relied for th on Bangkok.
Hoya Australia is also re-ploying many of its Sydney laboratory former ployees and working 24/7 to produce what it can.
Hoya’s Bangkok ‘super laboratory’ is also bringing in technicians from other of the company’s laboratories, including Japan, as well as from machinery and equipment suppliers. Also, technical staff are being flown from Japan to Europe in an endeavor to boost capacity there. That is happening in Asia too.
Hoya phoned practices in Australia early in the week commencing 17 October and informed th of the situation and cancelled orders that had been placed. That led to practices seeking alternative supplies from other laboratories, some reporting very substantial increases in lens orders for the first few days of that week, with a gradual easing as the week progressed, but still considerably above average levels.
The Bangkok ‘super laboratory’ has an estimated 80 free-form lens-generating units worth about $500,000 each, an unknown number of which could require all manner of repair, perhaps write-off, particularly given the sensitive IT mother-boards and other electronic equipment.
Then there are the rest of the contents, which, along with the generators, have been developed and built up over years, as well as the general damage by the flooding.
Complicating matters, laboratories in general report their businesses were picking up before the Bangkok floods, which means they may have capacity probls too in trying to cope with the extra intake of orders.
Shamir’s laboratory in Bangkok has been hit by one-metre flooding, but it managed to move higher much of its machinery, thus avoiding the floodwater.

All of the laboratories in Bangkok are complying with the Thailand government’s request that staff stay at home rather than try to travel through the flooded city to their places of work.
Also, power supply is inconsistent, in some instances completely cut off.
The Essilor and Rodenstock laboratories in Bangkok are not affected by flooding so far and rain confident they won’t be, however they say they are closely monitoring the situation.
Carl Zeiss Vision is not affected in any way because its Asia production is in China.
It ses Essilor has an advantage over Hoya inasmuch as it has a network of laboratories throughout the world, rather than having so many eggs in one basket as has Hoya.

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