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Spex Magazine
February 2020

Fre Tor, the machines that make eyewear.

With almost half a century of experience,
Fre Tor is a world leader in the manufacture
of machinery and process automation.

To explore the world of Fre Tor is to enter that space – which does not yet exist – between the most avant-garde present and the most desirable future. Fre Tor was founded in 1976 by Gervasio De Col, and is a model that leaves no room for criticism.

Initially De Col had a passion for precision engineering processes, and from there he started his own business: turning and milling small batches of objects that required high precision machining, on behalf of third parties.

As often happens, skills and inventiveness are the ideal combination for the growth of an entrepreneurial company. So De Col, pursuing his dreams, made his first machine – the M2G / E, a lens-cutting machine for eyewear. Nowadays, this machine is often identified with the Fre Tor brand.

It was immediately successful, and proved to be long-lasting. So much so that this first machine shaped the future of Fre Tor. In a short space of time, the company became involved in industrial automation, robotics, also turning its attention to the eyewear sector – inevitable given its origins – and precision engineering.

Over the years, other sectors have been added to the original areas, such as pharmaceutical, automotive, medical, aerospace and foodstuffs. Consequently, Fre Tor is today a modern company that offers a team of highly-qualified technicians, able to analyze and develop the ideal solutions for the construction of hi-tech machinery and automated systems, all of which comply strictly with legal standards. Efficient pre- and after-sales assistance services have brought the company based in Alpago to its current position as one the very few companies in Italy to be certified in every category: the product, services and, last be not least, for environmental sustainability.

Clearly, such a position cannot be improvised or obtained by luck. Behind the scenes there are many years of hard work, undertaken with commitment and dedication and backed by investments that have grown considerably with the transition from one generation to the next – from the founder Gervasio to his son Jury, who now runs the company. Jury De Col immediately realized that a good product such as the lens cutting machine could not be the only key to the future. Thus, he began to focus on processes designed to further improve customer services.

The servicing of the machines had become fundamental by the beginning of 2000, when the doors to globalization and an increasingly demanding and attentive world were being opened, not only to the product but to everything that was part of it. Customer care starts at the first contact with a potential client and follows them until the machine ends its natural life cycle within the company that purchased it.

To guarantee optimum management of this entire process, Fre Tor has structured its business according to the most modern concepts. This involves supporting the customer from the first steps of research, proposing the best solution for each single step, without being influenced by aspects not related to efficiency, the quality of the system and the cost-effectiveness of the finished product. This close attention has provided new opportunities for Fre Tor customers, given that alongside the assembly of the automated lines, there is an area dedicated to them at the Alpago site.

Here, customers can test the functionality of their prototype product during its development. It is, in essence, a live testing area, created to guarantee the best user experience to support the customer’s decision-making. This facility is now typical in many large companies and Fre Tor, which now employs a workforce of around 75 people divided between two plants, has rightly made it a key step in their customer services. In this way the customer has the opportunity to make an informed choice when deciding whether and how to invest.

Fre Tor is able to provide this facility because the entire development and design process of a machine or a plant takes place within the company, as do almost all the mechanical processes. Fre Tor, as mentioned earlier, is a company that operates in many different market areas and for a wide range industrial sectors. However, the world of eyewear is always the main focus of De Col and their collaborators. So much so that today, in this specific sector, Fre Tor is able to offer a range of machines and systems designed to manage each production area in the best way possible.

With such a wealth of experience, this sector is well managed. The advanced expertise that Fre Tor has developed over the last few decades has enabled the company to offer customers in the world of eyewear both standard machines and customized automatic robotic systems.

In the field of standard machines, Fre Tor now offers machines for the processing of lenses, frames and temples, and is able to meet the requirements of those companies that wish to expand beyond artisan production, and to combine high quality with lower production costs while still remaining competitive.

Fre Tor products are divided into three lines: the Frame line, which includes machines designed to meet the demand for the processing of lenses, frames and bars; the Taglienti line, which focuses its attention on the automatic cutting, finishing and drilling of lenses; and the Special line that concerns traceability, anti-counterfeiting measures and any other topics related to this area of production.

The Frame range includes presses for front bending, various types of heaters (high frequency, rotary, quartz), bending press for temple tips, hinges, micrometers, semi-automatic screwing systems, calendering and high-frequency animators. Our customers can come to Fre Tor with empty hands and, by purchasing only standard machinery, leave with almost everything that is necessary to produce eyewear.

If, however, you want to take advantage of every possibility, Fre Tor can also build a customized production plant. This would require the vast experience of the Venetian company not only in the world of eyewear, but also in the medical, automotive, pharmaceutical and other sectors. It is evident that automation in the world of eyewear is a real opportunity for growth, thanks to the introduction of new technologies that offer the possibility of being more competitive in the market.

But these paths are not easy and quick, and it is for this reason that Fre Tor strives to develop medium- and long-term partnerships with their customers. Developing a project is not something that is spontaneous. However, working with Fre Tor the results are always guaranteed and, when there is the opportunity to protect solutions with patents, the customer is always offered the opportunity to do so, thereby becoming the sole proprietor of technology designed specifically for their requirements. Among other things, this is a further sign of how Fre Tor operates: the company never offers new customers any systems that have already been built for their competitors. This is an additional guarantee of the seriousness and uniqueness of the services provided by Fre Tor.