Corporate Profile: Whip Mix

March 21, 2012

One of the unique things about Whip Mix is your commitment to Lean Manufacturing Initiatives. What first prompted the interest and how have the company benefitted?

One of the unique things about Whip Mix is your commitment to Lean Manufacturing Initiatives. What first prompted the interest and how have the company benefitted?

It first came onto our radar when we hired a new vice president of operations. He came to us from the automotive industry, which is where Lean Initiatives started with Toyota. With his background, he was able to point out that bigger isn’t always better and help us take the waste out of our operations. These measures not only improved our bottom line as a company, but helped us to effectively resist going overseas with production. We could take the cost out of a product using just-in-time inventory or building to order.

This seems like relevant information for the labs you work with as well.

Absolutely! We knew that many of the labs we work with were also dealing with offshore production competition, facing similar challenges. Of course, labs are more “custom manufacturing,” whereas we are making 100 of a given product, but we wanted to do what we could to communicate that by taking waste out of the process, you can compete. Even with something like turn-around time. Most labs build in 10 days. Using Lean Initiatives, they can produce a crown in three days, making it hard for any offshore competitor to gain ground. We now provide onsite consulting to labs to help show how to apply Lean Manufacturing concepts. And, of course, there is an open door policy for dental professionals to visit our facilities in Louisville, KY and Fort Collins, CO.

What can you tell us about your line of Lean Advantage products?

This line represents product improvements and innovations based on lab needs. The Xcavator is an example of integrating greater automation - it automatically devests molds after pressing. Precision is another focus. Whip Mix articulators as well as the new Denar Mark 300 Series Articulators allow casts to be interchanged between articulators without loss of accuracy. This reduces the quantity of articulators required in the lab and reduces damage when shipping instruments with cases. Other products in the line include the Occlusal Mounting Stand and new Pro 200 Series Furnace - both reflecting enhancements that play into Lean’s core values.

What details can you give us about the Lean Symposium you’ll be hosting Oct. 7-8, 2011 in Louisville?

Continuing education has always been a top priority for Whip Mix. This symposium will include sessions with Greg Lane, from the Lean Enterprise Institute, Rebecca Lacy and a dental lab panel including Steve Edmonds, Larry Weiss and others. We also plan to present awards to labs that have made Lean improvements. Nominations must include a short narrative of how this lab or individual has in affected the improvement in design, use of technology or mentoring within the dental lab industry. To submit a nomination or get more information, e-mail LabRelations@whipmix.com.

Also, as more people turn to the web for information, we've expanded our website to include a digital library of instructional videos as well as taped webinar segments. This enables technicians to learn on their own time and at their own pace. Both the live webinars and taped segments are free of charge and NBC approved for 1 hour CE credit.

Founded in 1919, Whip Mix has a long history of product innovation and customer service. How have your core values changed or remained constant over time?

We have always been a family business. That drives our values. For us, it’s not about short-term success as much as remaining viable for the future. We rely on technicians – if they’re successful, we’ll be successful. With all the advancements we’ve seen in technology, we’re trying to provide more than just high-tech, but the high-touch of personalized service and support. Technology can never replace the people behind a company.