5 things every lab needs to know about outsourcing

April 9, 2014

Whenever I meet a new technician or lab owner, one of the things I always tell him or her is that starting with a new milling partner is like a first dance; it can be a bit awkward.

Whenever I meet a new technician or lab owner, one of the things I always tell him or her is that starting with a new milling partner is like a first dance; it can be a bit awkward.

However, I also always say that it is important for both partners to get to know each other and what is expected so the dance can be as smooth as possible. Too often, we get so wrapped up in our immediate needs that we don’t take the time to learn how best to work together. With that in mind, let’s take a step back and go through a few things that every lab should know prior to working with a new outsourcing provider, no matter who they are.

1. What is their WHY? There is a great TED® talk by Simon Senik entitled “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” in which he talks about understanding a company’s “WHY.” During the 18-plus minutes of the talk, he mentions several times that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” In this quickly evolving marketplace, understanding the WHY of the companies you work with is important. Are they in line with WHY you do what you do? Part of my WHY is I believe in dentistry and its effect on a person’s health. What’s your WHY and the WHY of the companies with whom you choose to partner?

2. What documents do you need to get started with a new outsourced provider? Take five minutes and get what you need to send the work out. Just like you, we often get Rx forms from other companies. Each company needs different things and finding that out up front speeds up the workflow and allows us to do the best job possible. Are there other documents or is there additional information needed to establish your account?

3. Review the case thoroughly before sending it off! I know, I know, this is one you all deal with all the time. No shade, no implant type or platform information, or the always exciting “Please Call!” When I worked for Space Maintainers Lab, I was always shocked at the models that were sent in for us to make an appliance. We would get an Rx to make a simple Upper Hawley Retainer and there would be no palate on the upper. Sound familiar? The same is true for your milling center: is the case even doable? Is there enough room for a crown? Is the case articulated properly? Is there proper draw? Do we know the implant system? And on and on. A little work up front can pay off in the long run.

4. With all of the new milling machines, it is important to understand all the moving parts of the workflow. At Core3dcentres, we have an aerospace engineer who has a long history of industrial CAM software. In fact, he is currently running four different ones because we have a variety of machines and are milling a variety of materials, meaning a basic out of the box option will not produce the same outcome. Learn what different machines are capable of doing, and it will go a long way to ensuring great results.

5. Be sure to get your milling center’s material files and implant library if they offer implant services. If your milling center does have these, you need to understand why. Whenever we work with a new laboratory, one of the first things we do is set up their CAD system with Core3dcentres Material Files and/or Implant Library. Every milling center should have a specific validated manufacturing process, which guarantees the milled product will fit, and match the design. By utilizing the specific material library, a laboratory has the assurance from the milling center that the materials and milling workflow have been validated, resulting in the most precise, highest quality product every time.

It is great to see a dance evolve and the above are just a few of the many steps a lab should know when working with a milling partner. However, I think the biggest and most important thing to remember is that we are in a relationship business and, similar to your doctor-lab relationship, the lab-milling center is very important. It is great that we have engineers and staff with industrial manufacturing backgrounds-they are absolutely necessary; but we also have talented dental technicians willing to work hard to achieve what your lab requires. So reach out to your partners and make sure the relationship is continually growing and you are learning from each other. 

Daniel Allemeier, MBA, is Territory Sales and Marketing Manager for the United States for Core3dcentres, an offsite solution for dental laboratories. He lives in Pennsylvania with his family.

Top image: Willy GS / Getty IMages