What to look for in an optical components company: Part 2

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Optical components

We’ve written previously about the qualities that buyers should look for when seeking a company to supply optical components or services. Although some of these qualities are as obvious as value for money and a commitment to precision delivery, others are more specific to the sector and the particular demands of optical components, such as a track record in the field and the quality of materials used.

In this second article, we’ll outline a few more of the factors that buyers of optical components and services should look for in the optics company they turn to:

UK Manufacturing Base

Dealing with an optics company that has its own UK manufacturing base offers a range of advantages. The first of these is that the company won’t be relying on long and sometimes fragile supply chains to deliver the components which their clients need. This, in turn, will reduce the transportation costs, a saving that can be passed on to consumers in the form of lower prices or recycled into production spending to drive innovation and quality.

Having a UK manufacturing base will also enable faster delivery times and greater control over communication. In simple terms, the manufacturers of the components you need will be available to answer any questions you have during your working hours because they’re within a few hundred miles away rather than several thousand.

Small Quantities Available

Some optics companies can deliver the components buyers need because they rely on economies of scale and bulk orders to finance their operations. For many buyers, however, this is less than ideal because they only need a handful of specialist items manufacturing. In some cases, the requirement might even amount to no more than a single bespoke component for use in a nice area of expertise such as forensic science.

The willingness of an optics company to handle orders for small quantities will show a willingness to meet customer requirements in full, no matter how bespoke those requirements are, an ability to specialise for the duration of an individual project, and flexibility which will be reflected in everything else they do.

Fast Turnaround

Although the provision of optical components and services is a highly specialised sector, the best companies never lose sight of the fact that their customers work in an incredibly wide range of sectors, from retail and entertainment to specialist medicine, defence and energy.

One thing that all of these industries have in common is that they often need to have optical components delivered in time to meet extremely tight deadlines. Make sure that the optical components company you deal with is able to promise a fast turnaround on the products you need without any drop in quality. They should be able to point to examples of them having done this in the past and be willing to guarantee the turnaround your business needs.

Shipping All Over the World

We work in a truly global marketplace and even many companies which are based in the UK deal with customers and third-party partners located in all corners of the globe. If the optical components company you work with has a track record of shipping items to different parts of the world then this means that they will already have the systems and processes in place to meet genuinely global delivery requirements. This could involve existing partnerships with delivery companies, the maintenance of supply chains, and knowledge of the market conditions in different territories.

Engineering Services

The provision of specialist engineering services is a vital aspect of the optical components company you choose to work with. In the first instance, it means that they will be able to deliver all aspects of even the most complex components in-house. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of in-house delivery of this kind, as it guarantees the quality of the component from beginning to end, without the risk of having to call on third-party providers for specific aspects. It also enables faster turnaround of projects and completely open communication from first enquiry through to delivery.

The ability to deliver engineering services also means that bespoke optical components can be provided, from scratch if needed, providing specialist solutions in highly niche sectors.

Flexible Communication

The optical components company you choose to work with should be able and willing to communicate and liaise in the way that suits you. For some customers that will mean an ongoing, two-way communication with a sales representative able to offer a consultative approach and advice and support as the project is being delivered. This is more likely to be the case for those customers who need to have a specialised, bespoke item delivered.

In other cases – such as when ordering a standard component from existing stock – it may be quicker and more convenient to simply place the order online, without needing to speak to anyone. The optical components company you choose should be happy to offer both types of delivery and all points in-between.

Source from a network of certified suppliers 

The highly specialised nature of much optical component provision means that it is sometimes going to be necessary to bring in parts from third party suppliers. This is particularly likely to be the case if the project has to be turned around to a particularly tight deadline. The company you work with should already have a trusted network in place to ensure that this can happen at speed and that any parts which are sourced meet a quality certification such as ISO 9001:2015.

With this network of suppliers ready and waiting, delivery of a component or project will never be delayed because a particular aspect isn’t already in stock.

Testing Capability

Meeting wider quality certifications is one thing, but the very best optical components companies should also have a rigorous in-house testing department of their own. This will mean that they can meet standards of delivery and quality that far exceed those set by external quality controls and that the equipment, methods, and personnel they employ to deliver your components are never allowed to slip below an extremely high threshold.

Internal testing capability will also mean that the company you work with can tweak the tests carried out to ensure that the component in question is perfectly suited for work in your specific sector.   

R & D

If an optical components company has its own dedicated Research and Development (R and D) department in place, then it shows they are committed to more than simply churning out the basic components the majority of customers need. Engaging in R and D of optical components indicates a commitment to innovation and excellence, and a willingness to work beyond the parameters of specific projects to constantly build on and push the quality of what’s being delivered.

If your optical components company has its own dedicated R and D facility then you can be certain that the techniques, methods, and materials they use are always going to be at the cutting edge of the sector. As a client, you will always be getting the latest and the best in optical components, and innovation that cuts costs, improves quality, and tightens delivery times.

About UQG Optics

UQG Optics has been providing optical components and solutions for over 65 years, and now supplies to clients around the world in over 50 countries.

We hold an extensive range of optical components in stock for fast delivery, as well as offering custom optics from our manufacturing facility in Cambridge. For larger volumes, we source from trusted and certified suppliers around the world, with all testing done in our own in-house facility.

Our product range includes:

In addition to this, the optical materials offered by UQG Optics range from a range of general sheet glasses to high precision coated sheet optical filters.

Our glass raw materials, machined blanks, polished sheet glasses and coated sheets are sourced from leading manufacturers such as Schott, Heraeus and Corning, and we hold full batch identification of every glass stocked so we can supply full traceability on your finished component.

Next Steps: To find out more about Optical Components from UQG Optics, or any of our other optics call us on 01223 420329 or email our sales team at info@uqgoptics.com.