John Ackley is a lifelong Dental Laboratory Technologist and one of the newest members of the Schein Team.
We sat down with John and he discussed his idea of the top 5 must-haves for any lab in today’s ever-changing industry in order for them to be the most efficient, successful, and help your business and lab thrive.
Triage is one of the most critical steps to ensure proper workflow. Cases are separated into 3 categories: shortened time frame, standard time frame and additional time provided. By setting things up in that order for input, you are setting up your team for success. It is essential that the flow is adjusted and calibrated at the departmental and bench level to ensure efficiency.
It is critical to revisit schedules frequently with both your production and departmental managers as well as key technicians performing the associated tasks. By having the involved parties included in the reviews, you can address any potential problems and also get buy in and accountability established. As materials and processes change so do requirements for working times. Be aware of constraints within the schedule such as personnel availability relative to required processing times for materials.
3. Shadow Boards
Organization has a dramatic impact on tasks that have multiple daily cycles. Commonly used instruments and supplies should be reduced wherever possible and should have designated positions on the bench top or working area to facilitate quick access and rapid change over during the fabrication process. The busier the work center, the higher the yield in reduced labor cost from this simple implementation. No more searching for the correct rotary tool or screwdriver in a small crown box. This will help reduce inventory and waste.
4. Breaking Roadblocks
Identify items that impede your workflow. These could be anything from reworks to overloaded work centers. Communication, as in anything, is key to solving these issues. You may need to dive deep to get to the root cause of the blockage. Practice the 5 Whys to help identify the cause and to help develop a solution. Metered workflow makes identification of trouble spots much more evident.
5. Visual Indicators
The ease of accessing information is management’s best friend. Utilize colors, positions on shelves or carts, lights and signs to readily identify critical information. At a glance, you will be able to make decisions that used to take us several minutes and often involve conversations between management and production staff causing work stoppages during resolution or discovery. Visual Indicators can greatly simplify workflow and most other facets of lab management.