Scientific Metals refines dental scrap

March 21, 2012
Ken Schnepf
Issue 6

The Lab Williams and Harris Dental Laboratory, Richmond, Va., staffs 6-8 employees. Tim Lucero described the lab as a full-service lab that has been in business for more than 30 years. The Problem This lab has used the same alloys for many years and the metals get collected in a very specific way-a system which hasn’t changed over the years, Lucero said. And while metal prices and the lab’s metal invoices have been soaring in recent years, the lab’s scrap returns were relatively flat.

The Lab

Williams and Harris Dental Laboratory, Richmond, Va., staffs 6-8 employees. Tim Lucero described the lab as a full-service lab that has been in business for more than 30 years.

The Problem

This lab has used the same alloys for many years and the metals get collected in a very specific way-a system which hasn’t changed over the years, Lucero said. And while metal prices and the lab’s metal invoices have been soaring in recent years, the lab’s scrap returns were relatively flat.

What made this predicament concerning to Lucero was the scrap quantities submitted were similar, the collection methods were the same, and the alloys were the same. The scrap return in nominal dollars should have been increasing as well.

The Product

Scientific Metals adopted an innovative approach toward scrap refining services. The company refers to its model as the Amazon.com of the scrap metal refining industry. By virtually ­eliminating reps, the company drastically reduces its costs and passes these savings to the lab through scrap returns. The same way Amazon.com offers its customers big savings on everything from books to electronics by eliminating its biggest cost input-bricks and mortar, Scientific Metals offers labs big savings on their scrap returns by eliminating its biggest cost input-labor.

“It’s only logical that if our costs go down, then so do the costs to the labs,” said Dave Weinberg of Scientific Metals. “And with lower costs come higher scrap returns. We save money by virtually eliminating reps. The money saved gets passed on to the lab in their scrap return. Pretty simple. This model explains why numerous dental associations have endorsed our services, including four state dental associations.”

The Results

After trying Scientific Metals for the first time, Harris and Williams saw their scrap return increase dramatically-as much as a 50 percent increase. Lucero said his suspicions that the lab wasn’t receiving an accurate scrap return had been brewing for a considerable time. So as metal prices continued to soar to historical highs, his scrap returns were nothing near historical. He was determined to get to the bottom of this.

“Something didn’t feel right and I needed to find out what that something was,” he said.

Lucero decided to send in exact quantities of the same material to his current refiner as well as to a few other refining companies. This first round of experiments didn’t solve the puzzle.

“I wasn’t completely satisfied at this point,” he said.

He found Scientific Metals after reading about the company in a dental magazine and was at his wits’ end when he decided to once more send in the same 3 oz. of material he had been sending to the others.

“The difference in dollar amount was huge, in percentage terms, it was even more remarkable,” he said. “I even called back the company a few days later to confirm the initial weight of what I sent in to make sure I didn’t send them more than I did the others. When they confirmed it was about 3 troy ounces, a combination of relief and frustration overcame me. Relief in that I finally felt comfortable that I was getting paid for everything that I was sending in, but frustration that it took me so long and probably cost the lab a lot of money to get to this point.”