Summit Dental Lab: An Energy-Efficient Expansion
Posted Apr 28, 2011 in Labs & Profiles
In 2003, Summit Dental Lab had outgrown its 5,000-sq.-ft. facility in Waco, Texas. Owners Hal and Glenda Jones decided to gut and renovate the existing building and also build an addition. After 26 months of planning and construction, the lab expanded to 11,000 square feet and today has 38 employees. Hal Jones sent blueprints of the lab to the Dental Art team in Italy, and it gave the laboratory several different options for bench layouts. U.S.-based Dental Arte's Massimo Sasso then worked personally with Summit to refine the final look, including meeting one of his special requests: incorporating marine edges--raised lips around the edge of a countertop to prevent spills--in the model room benches.
The lab also worked closely with Zahn in selecting equipment, including handpieces, steam cleaners, porcelain ovens and Renfert sandblasting units.
Summit features an open-air, octagonal design to maximize workflow and communication. The lab's central area houses the waxing department, separated only by a series of Greek columns supporting an arched ceiling. Surrounding the waxing department are ceramics, metal finishing and offices, all within a technician's line of sight from his bench. When separate rooms were necessary--as with the quality control, metal and sandblasting rooms--Jones designed long, horizontal windows and clear glass doors for plenty of visibility into and out of the work areas.
Sweltering Texas summers can drive energy costs through the roof, so Jones devised an efficient plan to keep the lab cool. Instead of using standard air conditioning systems, he turned to geo-thermal wells. The underground system uses 72 240-ft. wells and an 18,000-foot closed loop piping system to cool water and produce cold air. The system saves the lab 40% annually on cooling costs. Summit also cuts its energy consumption with an automatic Zubler suction system connected to 22 workstations throughout the lab. The system's computer recognizes how many suction stations are running at a given time and adjusts the necessary output accordingly.
Jones choose Dental Art's Penta line of benches for their ergonomic features like removable armrests and multi-position footrests. The metal, powder-coated benches also include self-contained, variable-speed vacuum units; removable suction ports with eye shields; and color-corrected lights that illuminate three-square feet of benchtop. The lab's offices, sinks and disinfection areas feature granite countertops.
Before the renovation, Summit didn't have room for a separate in-house training room for its staff or clients. Now, the lab has its own 2,000-sq.-ft., high-tech seminar room with audio/visual hookups to a projection system and outlets and wireless internet connectivity for laptops. The lab also rents out the space as a state-of-the-art meeting space to local businesses.
Adjacent to the seminar room is a kitchen and break room the staff affectionately dubs "the Food Court." Employees can cook in the full kitchen and catering services are provided here for all seminars. The room features an electric fireplace and reproductions of paintings by classic artists like DaVinci. Along the hallway separating the Food Court from the lab, large plaques feature photographs of all Summit employees and how long they've been with the laboratory.
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