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Old Wednesday 1st February 2017, 09:56   #1
jan van daalen
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Factory visit

Last three days Gijs and me visited the Meopta factory in Prerov Tsjech Republic. Maybe Gijs will tune in later on. He is much better in defining optical issues. Photos will be available on the site in time.
Having also seen the plants of the other European brands, this one was the last on my European Optical Bucket List.

Moving the Zeiss, Leica, Steiner and Swarovski facilities in Wetzlar, Beyruth and Absam to the Meopta plant in Prerov, it would still give Meopta spare room to expand.
It is HUGE. They are the biggest. Tsjech first, America second Eat your hart out Trump (OK, it has an American owner, but still.....).

Walking on the outside from building to building one could make a movie of it imaging you're in the 50s. Inside it is the same. Building constructions give an atmosphere how labour was located 60 years ago, but.....

Inside these buildings there are state of the art, sterile operating facilities realized where the same modern equipment are used as they are at the Big Three, making it possible for Meopta to produce what they produce as an OEM 24/7 in three shifts. 2500 workers make that happen every day.

I have never seen a production hall where 85 CNC's (between 0 and 15 years old, like every other grinding/polishing/high vacuum coating etc device I saw)) were lined up in full working speed producing every steel, aluminium and plastic item needed for optical and other devices. Only the rough Magnesium housings are from another supplier, but finished to needed tolerances in own house.

Countless state of the art grinding and polishing machines, located in a hall as big as a soccer field producing over 1.800.000 optical devices in 2016.

A cantene of the same size offers five menu's for warm food 24/7. Sitting between them and looking around I saw several 70+ aged ex-Meopta workers still being able to visit their (ex) colleguees and bringing up old stories.

Three Zeiss devices caught my attention and it turned out that these were very recently installled making it possible for Meopta to measure tolerances below 1 micron. An investment over 8.000.000,00 euro's.

Having read Peter Abrahams interview of David Bushnell where Mr. Bushnell was asked about their triple tested marketing slogan (reply of Mr. Bushnell: the factory had it in their hands, we did and so has the buyer. That means triple tested) I witnessed how Meopta does it. Every lens is checked after each cyclus. After grinding, after polishing, after coating, after assembly and final as an complete product.

While on tour I was able to see the production of precise optical and mechanical parts which were used in products for several premier companies.

Same as in the other plants, female workforce is dominant in the lens production business. 1.800.000 optical devices passed their hands multiple times in one year and seeing Meopta's plans for the near future that future looks bright.

Jan
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Old Wednesday 1st February 2017, 10:09   #2
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Thank you very much for that interesting report, Jan!!!!! Appreciated !!
Kind regards. Canip
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Old Wednesday 1st February 2017, 11:12   #3
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Most interesting Jan, many thanks! I especially like the idea of former workers sharing their experiences and doubtless expertise!


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Old Wednesday 1st February 2017, 12:24   #4
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Your report (thanks for it!) makes me just a bigger Meopta advocate!

30 years ago, I bought a Meopta enlarger for colour photographs (robust, with a wooden board, good and inexpensive), now I own two very good (and robust and inexpensive) binoculars (Meostar B1 7 x 42 and 12 x 50 HD).

And I will continue to take into consideration Meopta - given its obvious good company conditions.

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Old Wednesday 1st February 2017, 13:14   #5
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Jan,

Really appreciate the report. Over the years I've been told bits and pieces about numbers of machines that Meopta use etc. but not knowing what the other companies have by comparison I guess I never grasped the scale of the operation. Sounds impressive.

David
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Old Wednesday 1st February 2017, 13:34   #6
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Hi Jan,

Great report. I knew MEOPTA was the biggest and most vertical integrated optical factory in Europe.
As a Meopta user, a B1 Meostar 8x32 and a Spotting Scope S1 APO 75, I see their products as the best bargains in price/quality ratio. Well, at any price....
Thank you.

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Old Wednesday 1st February 2017, 13:59   #7
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If they market their bins more effectively, they might use up some of the spare space.
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Old Wednesday 1st February 2017, 14:17   #8
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Thank's Jan on the info of the Meopta plant! Meopta is always in the forefront of any optic purchase I MAKE or SUGGEST to others. Really hard to find fault with them...
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Old Wednesday 1st February 2017, 14:55   #9
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Exclamation

Quote:
Originally Posted by jan van daalen View Post

Moving the Zeiss, Leica, Steiner and Swarovski facilities in Wetzlar, Beyruth and Absam to the Meopta plant in Prerov, it would still give Meopta spare room to expand. It is HUGE.

Jan
I've been to Absam and can only imagine the others...WOW! Excellent report Jan! You paint a picture of a very successful and long term global optical business, must have been a real eye opener in person!

Thanks for sharing,

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Old Wednesday 1st February 2017, 14:57   #10
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Thanks for the replies.

Given the fact Meopta does not use FF (yet), but do also use Schott HT glass, have the same CNC machinery, polishing equipment and high vacuum plasma coatings as the Big Three and produce in a lower cost country, gives them the advantage of producing equal quality products for lower prices.

@ wanderer post 7:
This is a well balanced out position. Meopta is an OEM for at least Zeiss and Leica. That makes Meopta a supplier. They are in a different position as for instance Zeiss and Leica who are not a OEM.
Having seen what they are capable of, I consider them since yesterday as one of the A brands.

Jan
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Old Wednesday 1st February 2017, 18:28   #11
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I fully share Jan's experiences and conclusions about Meopta.
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Old Wednesday 1st February 2017, 19:20   #12
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I have high regard for Meopta, as their products are top-notch, but especially because they are still a genuine designer and maker of optics.

Because of this, I would agree with Jan and suggest Meopta deserves special admiration / status from binocular fans.
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Old Wednesday 1st February 2017, 19:26   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by james holdsworth View Post
I have high regard for Meopta, as their products are top-notch, but especially because they are still a genuine designer and maker of optics.

Because of this, I would agree with Jan and suggest Meopta deserves special admiration / status from binocular fans.

It's been held in the highest regard by myself ever since I bought the Meostar 10x42 HD, and the superlative S2 spotter. The problem is with a certain segment of the population that thinks if it doesn't have a Z, L, or Hawk emblem on it, it is somehow second tier.
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Old Wednesday 1st February 2017, 22:20   #14
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When we walked around through the different Meopta halls where the binocular/telescope designs were invented, the precise metal bodies were machined (a real construction miracle was the body of the new Meorange, the nicely compact new rangefinder binocuar of Meopta), the polishing and finishing of all bodyparts, the same for the grinding and polishing of the lenses and prisms, the coating facilities and, as with all topclass binocular producers, most impressive the many careful steps to assemble everything. Every step required cleaning, quality control, quality control, quality control. I was again more and more amazed about the discussion on this forum that with so many steps and inorporated control steps, that some here are of the opinion that it is nonsense that one has to pay a fair amount of money for top class binoculars and Meopta surely belongs in that class in my opinion. I had that opinion already before our visit to Meopt, based on our test results of Meopta binoculars and telescopes and it was fully confirmed by our observation of all the construction and thourough quality control process.
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Old Thursday 2nd February 2017, 15:53   #15
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Many thanks Jan. Great to learn more about this producer.
Alpha? In the hunting and spotting scope spheres, yes. With their next generation of bins taking into account the needs of nature observers then I am convinced they will be alphas is this segment too.

Lee
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Old Thursday 2nd February 2017, 17:19   #16
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Jan .... Thanks for the write-up and pointing out the size and quality of the Meopta operation. Is their primary business geared more to OEM customers than their own product line? They do seem to be low key in marketing under their own name (at least in the U.S.) so I wonder if they do not want to strongly compete against their OEM customers. It looks like they have the ability to improve significantly on the offerings under the Meopta brand if they wanted to.

Google Maps:

To visually see what Jan described, I used Google Maps and it visually brought home what Jan has said. I did this using a desktop with a mouse. Bring up the Google Maps web page. Key in (or paste) "Meopta Prerov Tsjech Republic" in the search box located in the upper left corner of the page.

That will take you to the Meopta factory in map view. Click on the earth view box in the lower left to see the satellite view of the complex. You can zoom in and out. Next, drag the street view human figure in the bottom right to one of the surrounding streets to see the buildings.

Once in street view, a bunch of pictures show up on the bottom. Click on the first to begin browsing photos of the facilities. Not only are these buildings big in footprint, many are multi-level.

One thing that struck me as strange was the lack of parking lots. How do the 2500 workers get to work? Is it mostly public mass transit?
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Old Thursday 2nd February 2017, 17:59   #17
jan van daalen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BruceH View Post
Jan .... Thanks for the write-up and pointing out the size and quality of the Meopta operation. Is their primary business geared more to OEM customers than their own product line? They do seem to be low key in marketing under their own name (at least in the U.S.) so I wonder if they do not want to strongly compete against their OEM customers. It looks like they have the ability to improve significantly on the offerings under the Meopta brand if they wanted to.

Google Maps:

To visually see what Jan described, I used Google Maps and it visually brought home what Jan has said. I did this using a desktop with a mouse. Bring up the Google Maps web page. Key in (or paste) "Meopta Prerov Tsjech Republic" in the search box located in the upper left corner of the page.

That will take you to the Meopta factory in map view. Click on the earth view box in the lower left to see the satellite view of the complex. You can zoom in and out. Next, drag the street view human figure in the bottom right to one of the surrounding streets to see the buildings.

Once in street view, a bunch of pictures show up on the bottom. Click on the first to begin browsing photos of the facilities. Not only are these buildings big in footprint, many are multi-level.

One thing that struck me as strange was the lack of parking lots. How do the 2500 workers get to work? Is it mostly public mass transit?
It is 24/7 in three shifts for those employees who do the production. Take away the days off, the "suits" who work from 8 to late and my guess is that this leaves us to round 600 per shift, so 1800 per 24 hours.

Jan
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Old Thursday 2nd February 2017, 18:52   #18
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One thing that struck me as strange was the lack of parking lots. How do the 2500 workers get to work? Is it mostly public mass transit?
Bruce

I can see parking for about 130 cars in and around the factory, but across the road on nearby streets there are many apartment blocks that look to be three storeys high, so maybe the workers live nearby and walk.

This is what folks in the UK used to do before cars were commonly owned by most people.

Lee
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Old Friday 3rd February 2017, 04:37   #19
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Hello Jan. Thank you (and Gijs) for this insightful report. Did either of you happen to see whether or not they are set up to apply dielectric coatings? Some of us have been wondering about this, as some of their more recent offerings seem more color-neutral than the older ones.
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Old Friday 3rd February 2017, 10:04   #20
jan van daalen
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Hello Jan. Thank you (and Gijs) for this insightful report. Did either of you happen to see whether or not they are set up to apply dielectric coatings? Some of us have been wondering about this, as some of their more recent offerings seem more color-neutral than the older ones.
I must say that I haven't paid attention to that. Now you've mentioned it I should have.
As a supplier of optical parts to several premium companies, I would take it for granted that they do.
I'll ask and let you know.

Found http://www.meopta.com/en/vacuum-coating/ (thanks to Lee) and this will answer all your questions. Nice pics on that site. Go to the OEM section and you'll see what I meant with lined up equipment.

Jan

Last edited by jan van daalen : Friday 3rd February 2017 at 17:48. Reason: extra info
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Old Friday 3rd February 2017, 19:52   #21
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Very cool trip. I know I shouldn't be jealous, but I am a little bit.
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Old Friday 3rd February 2017, 20:14   #22
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Originally Posted by jan van daalen View Post
I must say that I haven't paid attention to that. Now you've mentioned it I should have.
As a supplier of optical parts to several premium companies, I would take it for granted that they do.
I'll ask and let you know.

Found http://www.meopta.com/en/vacuum-coating/ (thanks to Lee) and this will answer all your questions. Nice pics on that site. Go to the OEM section and you'll see what I meant with lined up equipment.

Jan
Jan (and Lee),

Thanks for the link...Amazing...who'd thunk it!

Ted
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Old Friday 3rd February 2017, 20:32   #23
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Very cool trip. I know I shouldn't be jealous, but I am a little bit.
To rub it in a little more, the trip to get there is as nice as the real thing.
The airport of Prague is superb modern. From there you take a 10 minutes drive to the railway station. The old entrance hall is a ancient basilisk and a plaquette on the wall shows Woodrow Wilson in bronze with a text about democracy. I don't think Trump will ever join him.
Prague is like Rome. That would say enough.
Prerov is on the other side of the country and it will take a speedtrain trip of 3 hours to get there. Comfort and elegance like from the 60s will accompany you with unbelievable professional hostesses who will serve you free beverages all the way and if you like all kinds of food.
Looking outside to the snowy woods and fields you'll see wild pigs and dears by the dozens between the small villages and the farmhouses which show up occasionly.
Czech Republic is worth the visit

Jan
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Old Friday 3rd February 2017, 21:46   #24
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You really rub it in - so unfair!!
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Old Monday 6th February 2017, 16:36   #25
jan van daalen
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Hello Jan. Thank you (and Gijs) for this insightful report. Did either of you happen to see whether or not they are set up to apply dielectric coatings? Some of us have been wondering about this, as some of their more recent offerings seem more color-neutral than the older ones.
Got word from Meopta, but they don't use dielectric coatings on their current line.

Jan
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