December 2014

Plant renovation pays off with increased volume, decreased turnaround times for Levy & Rappel

LevyRappelBy LER staff

The end-to-end redesign and renovation of Levy & Rappel’s plant, which began in February 2014 and is now almost complete, means the 85-year-old orthotic device company is now moving at 21st century speeds, said Dave Kramer, CPed, the Saddle Brook, NJ-based company’s owner and president.

“The renovation has accomplished all that we wanted and needed it to,” said Kramer. “We’ve increased our volume while at the same time decreasing our overall turnaround times by twenty percent, from five days to four.”

The renovation included a total update to equipment and workflow processes in the ankle foot orthosis (AFO) department, decreasing turnaround times for AFOs by almost half. Levy & Rappel’s AFO products include the Levy AFO, a molded gauntlet with a posterior heel window and either lacing or Velcro closures, and the Levy Dynamic, an articulated model. Both AFO lines meet a variety of indications and patient requirements.

The company also offers increasingly sophisticated technology to provide its wide array of in-shoe foot orthoses and AFOs. “We are entirely digitized now, and have just finished a complete IT update, upgrading all of our servers and computers, which will further improve processing times and customer experiences,” Kramer said.

Levy & Rappel converted to a Delcam CAD-CAM system last year, fully implementing workflow software that allows clients to upload patients’ foot scans. The second, more user-friendly version of this ordering system will be released in early January.

Despite this raft of high-tech changes, Kramer said, the company still offers techniques and products that have been around for decades for its clients who prefer traditional methods.

“We now have a dedicated CAD-CAM department with three CNC [computer
numerically controlled] milling machines and four full-time CAD-CAM designers who are at the front-end of our production line and allow us to move work through much faster,” said Kramer.

The company’s orthosis line includes the Pro-Walker, which 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 orthoses, also available in or­tholen or graphite. “The Bio-Sport line is for more athletic active people,” Kramer explained. “It’s for common foot ailments in these patients—anything from nonspecific pain to plantar fasciitis to pes planus.”

The carbon version is thinner, lighter, and rigid, whereas the ortholen model is semirigid. Both offer top covers designed to minimize friction and shear forces.

Levy & Rappel also makes accommodative orthoses from various combinations of EVA, leather, Plastazote, and cork. There is, in addition, a line of low-cost, multidensity, diabetic-specific orthoses, machine milled using the company’s CAD-CAM system. This Levy Diabetic line of orthoses meets Medicare guidelines.

For those patients with forefoot amputations who require toe fillers, Levy & Rappel offers a full line of partial foot prostheses.

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

“You cut the pattern out of this big piece of cowhide, skive it to uniform thickness, and soak it in water until it’s malleable,” Kramer explained. “Then you strap it onto the mold and let it dry overnight, and it will hold its shape.”

The insoles can keep that form almost indefinitely, as long as they don’t get soaking wet, he added. “I’ve gotten them back in the shop after twenty years for a new top and bottom cover.”

The bulk of the company’s business is still in-shoe orthoses, however, and in that realm Kramer is doing his best to strike a balance between tradition and innovation.

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

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

“We want to make it as easy as possible for customers to work with us, and our completed plant renovation and technology upgrades are ensuring high quality while making our processes seamless—and fast,” he said.

Article sponsored by Levy & Rappel.

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