The Build-Up: Each lab has unique furniture requirements

April 24, 2012
Stan Goff

Issue 4

The right furniture for your dental laboratory is essential. It requires a big investment on the part of the lab owner or manager, but it can pay off big in terms of improved workflows and efficiency, opportunity for additional growth, and even in happier and healthier employees. That’s why it is important to allow plenty of planning and research before making such significant lab furniture investments.

The right furniture for your dental laboratory is essential. It requires a big investment on the part of the lab owner or manager, but it can pay off big in terms of improved workflows and efficiency, opportunity for additional growth, and even in happier and healthier employees. That’s why it is important to allow plenty of planning and research before making such significant lab furniture investments.

If the wrong furniture and equipment are installed in a lab, you could end up with added costs and more time wasted attempting to correct the situation. Rick LaDuca, President of Handler International, Red Wing Brand Products, recently answered questions from DLP and offered up advice to help those looking to build a lab or bring new furniture into an existing lab.

Q: What are the key considerations when a dental lab is planning to purchase new lab furniture?

A: The decision to purchase new lab furniture is big, because it involves a financial investment for today as well as the future and it clearly impacts workflow and efficiency. First and foremost a lab owner or manager has to consider their goals and objectives and look at the project as a solution to improve productivity, quality of the work, employee satisfaction and the ability to meet the needs of the customer. They should fully understand the applications they are running in their lab and make sure the supplier can accommodate. They should be realistic in their expectations and know that planning is essential and timing varies depending upon the solution. You can’t expect to make a decision and have it come to fruition in just a few days or even a few weeks. Decision makers should allow at least 6 to 8 weeks for delivery of their order from the time prints are approved and a purchase order is cut. Lastly, making sure you are aligned with a good install team who has been there before and done that is very helpful.

Q: Does the type of lab or number of employees play a role in what types of furniture are best suited for the lab?

A: Yes of course. There are components that are congruent through the various applications in the lab, but each lab is unique and different applications have different requirements. For example, a pure removables lab will have specific requirements that are different for a crown and bridge. The amount of people and the role they play and just as important the amount of cases being processed in a day is very important. The lab must have adequate processing space and infrastructure to support the volume now and forecasted in the future.

Q: Are there areas that labs tend to overlook when purchasing new lab furniture?

A: This is an excellent question. Most lab owners and managers pretty much know what they want or need based upon their experience, their current state and where the industry headed with regard to technology-the past, present and future so to speak. Generally speaking, there is no one particular area that is omitted, but sometimes there is not enough thought given to the raw space needed and more importantly the proper infrastructure before a design and purchase is made. For example, we always ask questions such as, how much electricity is available at the site and what is the electrical configuration? Have you considered ducting before construction for central dust collection? How will the work flow from the point of receiving a case to shipping a finished product in order to minimize movement and maximize productivity?

Q: What advice can you offer labs in terms of best planning to add furniture now with plans to expand in the future?

A: Know thy self. Understand what it is you are trying to do, have an open mind to the possibilities and talk to industry experts and peers. Look at various providers and find one that best meets your goals and objectives now and in the future. Don’t just look at the price tag, but more importantly look at what the solution will do to improve your business and provide you with the return on investment.

Q: What are the possible consequences when a lab does not sufficiently plan for proper furniture needs?

A: Well, it can be fairly unpleasant. Specifically, it could mean added cost, more time spent trying to fix things, frustration, and negative impact on employee morale and productivity, which may translate into lost business. Fortunately, we have tools and resources available to help plan and minimize the risk.