Real Time ROI: Whip Mix’s Xcavator

March 21, 2012

The Lab The Lab 2000 Inc. is one of the largest female-owned dental laboratories in the country. Dena Lanier opened this Georgia-based crown and bridge lab in 1995, and Dennis Lanier, CDT, has served as the lab’s General Manager from the beginning. The Lab 2000 has 27 employees. The Product

The Lab

The Lab 2000 Inc. is one of the largest female-owned dental laboratories in the country. Dena Lanier opened this Georgia-based crown and bridge lab in 1995, and Dennis Lanier, CDT, has served as the lab’s General Manager from the beginning. The Lab 2000 has 27 employees.

The Product

Whip Mix’s Xcavator automated divesting unit is designed to drastically reduce and streamline divesting time. Compatible with any vacuum system and small enough to sit on the bench top, it cuts the two most common ring sizes (100 and 200 gram) without damage to the coping or framework. In addition, rings can be cut while still hot, saving even more time. The unit features calibration to ring size to ensure consistent cutting, variable speeds for proper depth of cut and a clear cover to visually monitor the cutting process.

The Results

Dena and Dennis Lanier do a lot of Ivoclar e.max restorations in their lab, and even though milling is an option, they always press theirs for a stronger, more translucent result. The problem? They found their skilled technicians were spending a lot of time hand sandblasting investment off the pressings, taking them away from the work they were hired to do. That all changed a few years ago when Whip Mix introduced the Xcavator automated divesting unit, and the Laniers decided to give it a try.

“In the economy now you can’t have people who are doing odd jobs. You have to have people who are cross-trained,” Dennis Lanier said. “If a skilled technician is sandblasting and doing a lower job, you’re losing money.”

Whip Mix is big on LEAN manufacturing, Dennis Lanier said, and a company representative came to the Lab 2000 to talk about their processes and becoming more efficient. The Xcavator fits into that model perfectly. All of the Lab 2000 employees know how to work this easy-to-use divesting unit, so the skilled technicians don’t have to. Beyond that, the machine does the job quickly and more efficiently than anyone can do by hand. In fact, it completes the job in about half the time as it would take someone to hand sandblast.

“It’s basically a supercharged sandblaster, but as you can tell I’m sold on the Xcavator,” he said. “Anytime we can get the machines to help us out with a job better and be more efficient, then I’m on board with it.”

Before the Xcavator, when a hot ring was pulled out of a furnace, it would have to sit and cool before it could be sandblasted, he said. Now, any employee can take the hot ring out, put it in the machine and push the delay button. Eight minutes later it kicks on to divest it.

“It takes one step-pulling it out of the furnace, putting it in the machine, pushing the button and it’s done. The light goes off to show when it’s ready to go,”

Dennis Lanier  said. “It’s a real time savings and it pushes your work through faster. My clients use (on average) 3.1 labs, so everybody uses different labs, but they will be more inclined to use mine if I can push work through quicker. It’s made a big difference with production.”

Not only is using the machine quicker and more efficient than having the technicians sandblasting, it’s cleaner and safer, too, he said. Instead of pressing the traditional way, The Lab 2000 employees just push a button and walk away. And the machine won’t work if the suction isn’t adequate.

The Laniers haven’t had any problems with the unit since they began using it a few years ago. As long as you keep it clean and follow the manufacturer guidelines, this easy-to-use machine will make your lab more efficient, and that means the ability to up your workload. Beyond that, it will help you ensure your technicians are enjoying what they do.

“From an owner point of view, I have to keep my technicians happy and none of them are happy if they’re hand sandblasting,” he said. “That’s the worst job out there. As we get more pressing things that need sandblasting, that would require more of them to do a lesser job. If that machine goes down, I’d have another one in there the next day. I’d have people wanting to leave if I didn’t.”