Different manufacturing systems for highly specialized development structures and processes
Luxottica has six manufacturing facilities in Italy: five in north-eastern Italy, the area in which most of the country’s optical industry is based, and one near Turin. All of these facilities are highly automated, which has made it possible to maintain a high level of production without significant capital outlay. Over the years, the Group has consolidated its manufacturing processes by concentrating a specific production technology in each of the Italian facilities:
- Plastic frames are made in the Agordo, Sedico, Pederobba and Lauriano facilities, while metal frames are produced in Agordo and Rovereto. Certain metal frame parts are produced in the Cencenighe plant.
- The Lauriano facility also makes crystal and polycarbonate lenses for sunglasses.
- The Dongguan plants, in China’s Guangdong province, make both plastic and metal frames.
Alongside these, the Foothill Ranch facility in California (US) manufactures high performance sunglasses and prescription frames and lenses and assembles most of Oakley’s eyewear products, while Oakley’s second manufacturing centre in Dayton, Nevada (US), produces the frames used in its X Metal® (a proprietary alloy) eyewear products. Lastly, there is a small plant in India, serving the local market.
In 2012, around 75 million pairs of sunglasses and eyeglasses frames were produced, of which around 40% were in metal and the remainder in plastic.
Production cycles and development
The manufacturing process for both metal and plastic frames begins with the fabrication of precision tooling and moulds based on prototypes developed by in-house designers and engineers. The capacity to design and build in-house results in a great competitive advantage; it allows the Group to reduce the lead time for product development and thereby adapt quickly to market trends and limit production costs, as well as maintain smaller and more efficient production runs so as to better respond to the varying needs of different markets.
The manufacturing process for metal frames has approximately 70 phases, beginning with the production of basic components such as rims, temples and bridges, which are produced through a moulding process. These components are then welded together to form frames over numerous stages of detailed assembly work. Once assembled, the metal frames are treated with various coatings to improve their resistance and finish, and then prepared for lens fitting and packaging.
Plastic frames are manufactured using either a milling process or injection moulding. In the milling process, a computer-controlled machine carves frames from coloured plastic sheets. This process produces rims, temples and bridges that are then assembled, finished and packaged. In the injection moulding process, plastic resins are liquefied and injected into moulds. The plastic parts are then assembled, coated, finished and packaged.
Luxottica engages in research and development activities relating to its manufacturing processes on an ongoing basis. As a result of such activities, Luxottica has invested and will continue to invest in automation and in innovative technologies, thus increasing efficiency while improving quality. With the vertical integration of the production system, a virtuous circle is created: the complete control of production allows for research into new technologies, which in turn results in improved efficiency and an increase in revenues; the company grows and this stimulates investment and research.
In addition, Luxottica utilizes third-party manufacturers to produce Oakley apparel, footwear, watches and certain accessories.