Observations and advice from leading manufacturers, suppliers, and service providers
Considering as many perspectives as possible is often helpful in business. For example, AEGIS Dental Network Laboratory Division Director Valerie C. Berger says: "Technology is increasingly the key driver of our industry today. I would tell anyone who asks that it is vitally important to remain up to date on all of the new equipment and materials that are streaming into our marketplace. Keep educating yourself on how to best utilize all of these new technologies and adapt them to your workflow so you can generate new business opportunities and elevate your laboratories." IDT also asked executives from leading industry partners for their insights, and their responses are presented here.
What is one tip you would offer any laboratory?
Never lose the personal touch. With everything moving into a digital (need to know now) environment, it is important to remember the basic fundamentals of servicing customers. Stay connected with your dentists. Not just text messages. Face time is critical to ensure longstanding relationships. Try to create a memory whenever possible. Go the extra mile to ensure their success. Use "please" and "thank you" whenever possible. A few simple things will go a long way.
Sr Manager Corporate Communications Svcs, Ivoclar
Implement LEAN manufacturing principles and continuous improvement goals into your laboratory. This will help streamline production and help improve consistency and quality. This can also help to eliminate wasted movement and time. For example, have you ever been in a shop with a tool board, and noticed an outline of the tool where the tool should be? This simple step will not only improve organization but also help any other shop worker know where it is at all times. If a new shop worker comes in, they also know where to find the tool quickly and easily. This will help eliminate wasted time and movement looking for the tool they need. This is just one small example, but there are many LEAN principles that can be adopted by laboratories to help them become more productive and efficient while improving overall quality. Focus and optimize your laboratory's systems and processes in order to make decisions that enable your organization to do its best work.
Sr. Manager Dental Laboratory Marketing, GC America Inc.
Now is the time to analyze your business expenses and raise prices. Everything is going up in cost so why are you still holding back? This is costing you money. Look at rent, gas, insurance, and vendor bills; you need to be looking at everything or hire a CFO.
President, Nowak Dental Supplies Inc.
In our rapidly evolving industry, laboratories need to ensure they are increasingly responsive to their customers' needs, including finding ways to increase production and drive down manufacturing costs and time with investments in technology. Alongside transitioning from analog to digital with additive technology, laboratories will need to become trusted advisors, partnering with dentists even more on implants, aligners, and complex cases.
President, Kulzer North America
Differentiate your laboratory, go digital, and be flexible. We are seeing more clinicians looking for speed and flexibility in their laboratory partners. Digital solutions offer just that, plus the added benefits of precision and cost savings.
CEO, vhf North America
What does every laboratory need to do to thrive today and in the future?
Business and technology are complex-don't go it alone. Build a network of advisors both within the dental laboratory industry and in the business community to learn best practices, technology, and outsource solutions. Resources include associations, online groups, study clubs, and manufacturers.
CEO, Whip Mix
Prioritizing and embracing the complete digital ecosystem will be key to thriving today and in the future. Laboratories will need to invest in IS/IT systems that will automate how a file is recieved, allocate where it will be processed (in-house vs outsource), and lead to improved communication with the dentist.
CEO and Co-Owner, The Argen Corporation
Stay up to date by reading industry journals/online social groups and observing grassroots trends. Don't be afraid to buy into new technology too soon. Establish a solid team that believes in your company as much as you do. Reward clients for their repeat business and treat each case as if it was your own. Reinvest in your laboratory. Reinvest in your employees. Reinvest in your clients.
CEO, Alien Milling Technologies
In the new world of laboratory acquisition and lower margins, every laboratory needs the ability to compete. Laboratory partnerships are key to enabling small to medium-sized laboratories to have more buying power, more supply chain control, and increased margin and bottom line.
Gene Peterson, CDT
Director of Technical Development and Learning, Sterngold Dental
Learning new and ever-changing technologies is critical to strengthen your skill set, enhance your contribution to the dental industry, improve laboratory business management, and better enjoy your career each day.
Director of Dental Division, Kuraray America, Inc.
We see additive manufacturing technology being really important for dental laboratories now and in the future. We are especially excited about where resins are heading. Materials are becoming stronger, more esthetic, more durable, and more cost-effective for technicians to print a variety of fixed and removable appliances. As technology continues to advance, we envision the dental laboratory of the future will be all digital, with streamlined workflows and efficiencies. We envision dental laboratories being that consultative advisor for the dentist and partnering with a trusted advisor for the laboratory on technology, workflows, and efficiency. Zahn Dental is here to help the laboratory's R&D, facilitate the digital workflow, and assist in additive technology and materials.
Vice President and General Manager, Zahn Dental
What trends do you believe will impact the dental laboratory profession most over the next 5 to 10 years?
Ongoing labor shortages in the laboratory along with rising demand paired with price erosion will drive the dental laboratory profession more toward automation and digital connectivity with dentists. Also, training and education on digital procedures for both employees and clients will be a key trend. The dental laboratory will become the gateway to all technologies, materials, and procedures. The future is bright.
Managing Director, Amann Girrbach North America
Dental laboratories will transform from product manufacturing suppliers to dental service providers by implementing digital technology in their production chain. Digital technology will replace traditional manufacturing processes and allow dental laboratories to provide even more innovative and swifter dental solutions.
CEO, HeyGears Inc.
Overall, I see a major trend toward digitalization of dentistry. CDTs will need to acquire new skills such as digital agility. The cooperation between dental practices and dental laboratories will change and solutions for data storage and transmission are required.
Arjan de Roy
Group Vice President Global Head of Commercial Dental Labs, Dentsply Sirona
The transformation toward 3D printing will continue to progress rapidly with additive manufacturing technology creating more opportunities for digital dentistry. We expect great innovations for 3D printing materials as these will become more advanced, and the number of applications will grow.
VP & GM, Dental, 3D Systems