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Lincoln Dental Supply's partner laboratories test products for quality and performance before they're added to the company's lineup.
Laboratory owners have long bemoaned products that come to market before their time. One way proactive labs are combating the problem is by getting in on the ground floor. About a dozen U.S. laboratories are testing labs for Lincoln Dental Supply, evaluating the quality and performance of all of the products the company manufactures, as well as those it's planning to distribute, before it adds them to its product lineup.
Here's how the testing process works: Once Lincoln has completed its own R&D--through both its six-person, in-house laboratory as well as independent testing facilities--it asks the laboratory to incorporate the product into its production cycle. The labs can take up to two weeks to do the testing and then report back to Lincoln by completing a questionnaire about the product's performance, how it compares to similar products and if the lab would buy it if it were carried by Lincoln.
Besides getting to keep most of the products they evaluate at no charge as well as a leg up on new products, Lincoln's partner laboratories receive a host of benefits. "As a result of testing, we get to compare products side by side with what we're currently using and we typically end up with products that are of a higher quality, work better and last longer," says Tim Verhagen, R&D coordinator at 39-employee Quality Crown & Bridge in Green Bay, Wisconsin. For instance, when the laboratory tested some Hatho polishing materials, it evaluated the products' performance on all different types of metals and porcelain. With one batch of restorations, it used the lab's standard techniques with brushes and chamois and its usual buffing compound; with a second set of restorations, it used the new polishing kit then compared the results. The lab found it got better results with the new products, gave a favorable review to Lincoln and even decided to add them to its standard fabrication procedures.
Product evaluation can be especially valuable with more high-ticket items. For instance, when Broadway Dental Lab tested Clon 3D's SpectroShade--a $5,000 digital shade-taking system--it was so impressed that the lab purchased a unit. "We see patients for custom shades and were interested in the technology, but because of the price we were hesitant to invest in a unit," says Tony Cirigliano, co-owner of the 12-employee lab in Feasterville, Pennslyvania. "Our evaluation period gave us a chance to use the technology, see if it worked for us and, ultimately, convinced us to buy it."
Testers with Benefits
Testing a product can also result in a cost savings for the laboratory. For instance, when Greg Thayer, owner of Thayer Dental Laboratory, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, assessed Metoxit's zirconia blocks, he not only saw that the quality of the restorations was high, but the material was less expensive than the blocks the lab was currently using. "We ran about 100 units over a two-week period and once we evaluated the fit and clarity of the mill, we decided to switch to these blocks because we could save $14-19 per box of five blocks," says Thayer.
For Lincoln Dental Supply, testing products in a real-world laboratory also gives it an edge. "For almost 25 years, we've worked with our partner laboratories for feedback on any new product we're launching," says Jeff DiBlasi, vice president and general manager. "We've identified them as quality labs with high standards and, if we've satisfied them, we know we've satisfied our toughest critics and that we have a good product."
If you're interested in becoming a testing laboratory for Lincoln Dental Supply, contact Jeff DiBlasi at 800-289-6678 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lincoln Dental Supply also supported LMT from its 1984 inception. In recognition of this support and in celebration of our 25th anniversary, this is the sixth installment in our Leading Through Partnership series featuring profiles of laboratory-manufacturer partnerships. To contact Lincoln: Call 800-289-6678, e-mail email@example.com or visit http://www.lincolndental.com
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