Numbers Don’t Lie: LDP Drives Success
Data-driven laboratory continues to grow with digital dentures
ROE Dental Laboratory has developed a reputation as one of the most business-savvy operations in the industry, and a big reason for that is data analysis. President BJ Kowalski and his team utilize metrics gleaned from laboratory management software in almost everything they do. They even employ a full-time analytics specialist.
"Paying close attention to when something was done, why it was done, remakes and adjustments, internal reworks of products, and more has really empowered our management team to take control of their areas of supervision with numbers, rather than gut instinct," Kowalski says. "They have a lot more facts at their disposal."
This management style is one reason why ROE has already started growing again after the COVID-19 shutdown. The company employs nearly 200 people in three locations—Independence, Ohio; Martin's Ferry, Ohio; and Jamestown, New York.
"We are back to more than 100% capacity and growing at a strong pace so far this year," Kowalski says.
The emphasis on data analysis allows Kowalski to confidently move forward with the most efficient products and workflows. One such initiative is Dentsply Sirona's Lucitone Digital Print™ (LDP) workflow, which has performed so well since ROE began using it last year that the laboratory purchased three new Carbon 3D printers during the COVID-19 shutdown, bringing their total to five. The system, validated exclusively for Carbon printers, includes Lucitone Digital Print™ 3D Denture Resin, IPN 3D™ Digital Denture Teeth, Lucitone Digital Try-in™ 3D Trial Placement Resin, Lucitone Digital Fuse™ 3-Step system, and inLab Speedcure™ Processing Unit.
Of course, the first priority is delivering a quality product to the dentist and patient. ROE offered digital dentures as an economy line in the past and will continue to offer that option, but the LDP product is so impressive that Kowalski says they are making it their standard denture.
"We had been concerned about strength with digital dentures," Kowalski says. "However, we had immediate success with LDP. It is a very strong, nice-looking denture. The setups are consistently superior to what we can fabricate by hand."
The next priority is efficiency and cost, and the numbers have proven that LDP is an effective workflow in that regard.
"Our direct labor costs are considerably lower for LDP than for analog dentures," Kowalski says. "That is offset slightly by the equipment costs, but it is definitely a more efficient process that is less labor-intensive. We can train people quicker. We can get them up to speed doing a denture setup much faster than we can with conventional processes, and a lot of the finishing/post-processing steps are jobs that require minimal dental skills and knowledge."
Volume is the primary requirement for achieving an ROI on the printers, and Kowalski says Carbon's service and maintenance program ensures that there will be minimal problems with meeting that volume.
"It is all about throughput—how much you can use them and how long they are running," he says. "The LDP workflow is the direction we want to go, so we were confident in acquiring the three additional printers."
The efficiencies of the LDP system even extend to dentists who work with ROE. With such accurate fabrication, fewer patient visits are typically required.
"The dentists are consistently happy with the positioning of the teeth," Kowalski says. "In fact, for cases where the clinician provides great records, it is not unusual for us to take the risk and try to save them an appointment."
As a result, ROE's data analysis reflects strong growth in the denture department, helping the laboratory as a whole continue to thrive.
"I am sure other companies are developing great products," Kowalski says, "but right now this seems to be the best in class."
ROE Dental Laboratory
COMPANY HISTORY: ROE Dental Laboratory has been building successful long-term partnerships with dentists since 1926. The laboratory was founded by Roe Miller and acquired by Bruce Kowalski in 1978. Bruce’s son, BJ Kowalski, has been involved with ROE since he was an early teenager and took over the family business in 2001, implementing a philosophy of progressive laboratory engagement.
MISSION: To perpetually grow its organization, to provide opportunities for its employees within a great work environment, and to become an increasingly impressive high-quality resource to dental professionals nationwide whom they support like family.
CORE VALUES: Customer-focused, team-oriented, clear communication, professionalism, accountable for actions, dedicated to excellence.
Chief Communications Officer
Joe Royer, CDT
Chief Operations Officer
Joe Ambrose, CDT