December 2015

Renovated plant, CAD-CAM conversion, and lean manufacturing deliver fast, seamless services

LevyLogo2By P.K. Daniel

For more than 85 years, Saddle Brook, NJbased Levy & Rappel has set the standard in the orthotics industry with a commitment to individual attention and ensuring high-quality products. In 1930, it was the first company to develop a soft and supportive orthosis, raising the industry yardstick.

Levy & Rappel continues that tradition with the completion in September 2015 of its end-to-end redesign, plant renovation, and technology upgrades that began in 2014.

“Our completed plant renovation and technology upgrades are ensuring high quality while making our processes seamless—and fast,” said Dave Kramer, CPed, Levy & Rappel owner and president. “The renovation has accomplished all that we wanted and needed it to.”

As a result, Levy & Rappel has enjoyed increased volume while decreasing turnaround times by 18%. The renovation included a total update to equipment and workflow processes that has made the process extremely worthwhile, Kramer said. “Everyone is simply more productive.”

But, what really sets Levy & Rappel apart is its dedication to hand craftsmanship and its long-held traditions, along with its embrace of new-age technology. “We develop and change with the times, but we still go to what our core is—individual attention and a hands-on approach,” he said.

The established company has been a family operation since Kramer’s uncle owned Levy & Rappel before selling it to Kramer’s father, Bob, in 1993. After Bob Kramer died in 2010, David Kramer took over.

Always looking ahead, Levy & Rappel capitalized on its recent renovation effort as an opportunity to implement lean manufacturing principles that will enable the company to continue improving workflow and efficiency. And a streamlined fabrication process has allowed Levy & Rappel to increase its manpower.

The renovation included a complete IT update, which meant an upgrade to all of the company’s servers and computers. Levy & Rappel converted to an Autodesk Footwear CAD (computer-assisted design) system in 2014, fully implementing workflow software that allows clients to upload patients’ foot scans. The company released the second, more user-friendly version of this ordering system in early January.

“What a fantastic atmosphere we have now that the renovations are complete,” said Pat Miller, Levy & Rappel office manager. “The new technology has helped our order processing and tracking immensely.”

For clients who are thinking of making the switch to digital orthotic prescription, Levy & Rappel provides loaner iQube 3D foot scanners that allow these practitioners to access the faster flow and streamlined experience of up-to-the-minute technology.

“They can scan a foot in their office, log in to their account, and enter their orders, along with whatever adjustments they want,” Kramer said, noting that using a scanner and the company’s workflow software reduces both mistakes and turnaround times.

“Our only limitation is the limit of your imagination,” he said.

In addition to the overhaul, Levy & Rappel has introduced new products, including the Econ line of cost-effective diabetic custom foot orthoses. Like all of Levy & Rappel’s custom orthoses, the Econ I and Econ II are both manufactured from plaster casts, foam impressions, or 3D scans of the patient’s foot.

The Levy Econ I is a two-layer orthosis featuring a tan 35-durometer EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) base layer and blue Plastazote top cover.

The Levy Econ II is a three-layer orthosis featuring a tan 35-durometer EVA base layer, 1/16″ PPT midlayer, and blue Plastazote top cover. The company delivers the product to the practitioner’s office in seven days.

A mainstay of Levy & Rappel’s line of custom orthoses is the Pro-Walker for management of common foot issues and support for everyday activities. It comes in two models, both of which combine polyethylene thermoplastic with a cushioning top layer. “These are hybrids of a fully functional and an accommodative device,” Kramer said.

Levy & Rappel also offers three-quarter length functional orthoses made of either ortholen (a dense polyethylene) or graphite, which can be made in a range of rigidities and designs.

The company’s Bio-Sport line features full-length custom orthoses, also available in ortholen or graphite. “The Bio-Sport line is for more athletic, active people,” Kramer said. “It’s for common foot ailments in these patients—anything from nonspecific pain to plantar fasciitis to pes planus.”

Levy & Rappel is one of the few companies that still make all-leather custom foot orthoses. Levy uses a tough, flexible leather called Sole-Bends, which comes from the thick parts of the hide that runs down the sides of the cow’s spine. The company’s line includes several threequarter length styles: one prescribed for arch support, one for rearfoot control, and one for fashion footwear.

While Kramer strives to strike a balance between tradition and innovation, the company still offers techniques and products that have been around for decades for its clients who prefer traditional methods. “In other words,” said Kramer, “old-world craftsmanship meets new-world technology.”

Two of the time-honored principles that benefit all Levy & Rappel customers are individual attention and a continued commitment to exceptional service. That service includes a five-day turnaround, frequent buyer discounts, and a foam replacement program for when Levy & Rappel receives an order with a foam impression box.

Article sponsored by Levy & Rappel.

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