Inside Dental Technology
The Competitive Advantage of Bego’s SLM Services
Outsourcing production processes allows both large and small laboratories to meet industry demand
Historically, the success of a business operating in the dental laboratory space was measured by the number of employees working at the bench. The more technicians the laboratory employed, the more products it could produce and deliver, and thus the more successful the operation. However, today that benchmark of production performance criteria and consequent financial success has largely disappeared as the industry morphed over the past decade from labor-intensive production processes to more streamlined and automated digital workflows. In this new environment, the mindset of successful business owners has shifted to increasing production efficiencies without increasing labor costs, remaining flexible and nimble in a changing market, and using all available resources to meet the demand of clients. The ability of laboratories, both small and large, to partner with a quality production center can play an important role in helping them meet their business objectives.
The Impact of Sourcing SLM: A Small Laboratory Experience
Trained by the Army as a dental hygienist, Mark Walter, MDT spent more than a decade after his discharge from the Army working in the dental laboratory industry and learning as much as he could. That eventually led him to taking on the roles of production manager and department supervisor for several dental laboratories before transitioning to a territory sales representative position with Ivoclar Vivadent. It wasn’t until he became the first certified trainer in the US for 3Shape that Walter’s eyes were opened to new technology-driven production processes that would be particularly appealing to small laboratory owners who have set their businesses on the course of growth through increasing production capacity. Armed with sales and managerial experience—as well as a good working knowledge of scan/design technology and a Masters in Dental Technology degree—Walter set about building his new business, Smile Renovation Studio, two years ago. His business strategy was to leverage the power of his scan/design software and the wide range of products available through Bego’s production center to service his clients. “The ability to scan models and send the STL design files to a production center is a huge time-saver for small laboratories like mine,” says Walter. “Especially since a majority of my clients are still prescribing non-precious metal-based restorations.” Delivering a 60/40 ratio of PFM to all-ceramic products, the ability of Walter to eliminate the waxing, investing, casting, and divesting stages of production frees him to deliver a more finished product to his customers and chat about the case or make sales calls to solicit new clients to add to his 13-client customer base. “If someone looked at it on paper, they might think that it is less expensive to cast in house,” says Walter. “But the price is very attractive and the benefits are enormous for me personally and for my business.” Most importantly, Walter no longer has issues with miscasts, warpage, or the cutting and soldering problems involved with traditionally cast multi-unit cases. “I had a 10-unit try-in case yesterday that the client said fit beautifully and dropped right in the mouth.” In the short time Walter has been in business, he already has had to move from a 150-square foot facility to a larger, 1200-square foot laboratory in Kingston and added a full-time employee. Being a small 2-person business, Walter has also joined the OPT-In Dental Laboratory Cooperative, which offers Smile Renovations with the pricing discounts, mass marketing, and peer support that small businesses need to survive.
The Impact of Sourcing SLM: A Large Laboratory Perspective
Until recent years there was no choice for laboratories receiving prescriptions for PFMs but to wax, cast, invest, and burnout. Always at the forefront of digital automation technology, Rob Colgin, DAL Division Manager of Implant Prosthetics (Dental Arts Laboratories, Inc. is a family owned group of laboratories based in Peoria, IL), and the DAL team eagerly welcomed the opportunity to streamline their inventory process as well as control the metal waste that is inherent in conventional manufacturing processes for PFM restorations and turn the responsibility over to a trusted SLM manufacturing partner. “Over the past several years, the cost of alloy has become extremely erratic and unpredictable, affecting our inventory control and the pricing strategies that we put into place for our customers,” explains Colgin. “The ability to outsource our metal production to Bego’s SLM manufacturing center allows us to predictably provide our customers a flat fee base and noble PFM alternative, which, in turn, ensures us a competitive advantage in the market.”
Outsourcing metal coping production has also increased the laboratory’s production capacity, as the copings are returned very close to completion, and require only a small amount of labor time to finish before layering. “Freeing up time for our technicians has increased our production capacity dramatically,” says Colgin. “We now have the potential to handle three times the production volume.”
Colgin says that scheduling cases through the 350-employee group of laboratories has also been positively impacted. The entire process of scanning, designing, and submitting STL design files has streamlined production and made the process much more predictable. Also, Bego’s 48-hour turnaround for cases submitted electronically to the production center has helped eliminate the need to extend delivery dates, positively affecting customer retention.
Both Walter and Colgin agree that at it is smart business sense for any size laboratory to partner with a production service provider supplying precise SLM metal frameworks.
Disclaimer: The preceding material was provided by the manufacturer. The statements and opinions contained therein are solely those of the manufacturer and not of the editors, publisher, or the Editorial Board of Inside Dental Technology.
BEGO Production Center
The BEGO Production Center for North America is a premier laboratory sourcing center for non-precious and noble Selected-Laser-Melted (SLM) substructures, as well as CAD/cast metals, IPS e.max®, and zirconia milling. As a global pioneer in SLM technology for more than 11 years, BEGO optimizes SLM framework manufacturing for dental laboratories with tested materials, proprietary file management, and manufacturing software, all supported by fast, knowledgeable, friendly service.
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