For the past 3 years Whip Mix has hosted an event that has helped a number of laboratories move forward into digital technology territory – some for the first time, others continuing their journey and moving further into the space.
This year’s Forum success is due in great part to our excellent group of presenters who generously shared not only their knowledge with us, but their personal experiences as well. They covered the challenges a lab new to these technologies faces when taking its first steps to the other end of the spectrum, which included designing complex cases.
There was an abundance of information that was disseminated and discussed so we thought we would share just a few of the many take-aways that go to improving a dental laboratory’s business in 2014. It was truly difficult to choose just a few, but I’ll do my best to share some of the ones I felt were important.
1. According to Chuck Yenkner, the Founder and President of Business Development Associates, there are some convincing arguments to go digital.
- In a traditional Fixed C&B (analog) lab, the units per Lab Tech per day (No admin. or drivers) averages 3.75. In a Digital Fixed Lab it’s 7 – 8.
- In a traditional Fixed C&B (analog) lab, the annual revenue per lab tech averages $140,000. In a Digital fixed lab it’s $200,000.
2. In the NADL 2013 Equipment Survey, of those that own a Cad Cam system, 43% say that it has increased business with existing clients, 29.5% say that it has helped to secure new clients, and 25% say that it has not helped their business.
3. Calculating Return on Investment is the most important business measurement you should understand and use. This will lead you to better business decisions. It is easy to calculate: ROI= (Income-Cost of System-Production)/(Initial Investment).
4. When deciding which products/services to offer, don’t ignore the aging Baby Boomer population and its impact on the dental industry. The digitally manufactured removable prosthesis is coming fast, because while there are 30% fewer labs in the United States since 2008, removable labs are up 63%.
5. 3D printing, otherwise known as “additive technology”, is rapidly growing within the dental industry for creating accurate burn-out patterns for pressed ceramics and for models.
6. Be mindful when implementing new digital technologies. Avoid infrastructure problems by putting the new equipment in a logical process flow, versus putting it where space is available and convenient. Be sure you properly communicate your new change to employees and customers. People generally don’t like change and you will need their buy-in. Finally, measure your success.
7. Next generation in-office milling is creating a new business opportunity for labs – digital designs for the dentist-created temporary or permanent restoration. If you won’t get the production of the case, you can at least design it and introduce a new profit center for the laboratory.
8. The detail in surface morphology is often not well reproduced by these digital technologies, so photographic images should always be an integral part of the case. Make sure your dentist-customers take good digital photos and include them with the Rx.
9. No matter if you are a traditional or digital dental lab, you should process your work in small batches. Working in small batches reduces lot sizes, which leads to flexibility and shorter lead times, and it produces only what is needed when it is needed.
10. S-Ray technology which sees through hard and soft tissue is coming. This means that in the not-too-distant future, accurate scans will be achieved even through blood, tissue, etc. More accuracy from the dentist means more accuracy from you.
11. New technology doesn’t sell itself. While digital technology may increase your business with existing clients, in order to bring in new business you need to find ways to get the word out and promote it! Tell the world about it. The extra business will help make it easier to pay off the capital investment faster.
These 11 take-aways are a tiny fraction of the useful and insightful information that the attendees of Digital Forum 2014 received. If this type of program is of interest to you, watch for Whip Mix’s ongoing digital education opportunities. We are all sharing the same journey into the new world of digital dentistry, so Whip Mix is eager to provide learning opportunities. Plan on attending a future Digital Forum to bring home lots of information that will enable your business to immediately start growing into your future. The dental laboratory’s future is up to you. You can merely survive or you can thrive! It’s your choice.