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Lean Manufacturing for a Competitive Edge

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Labs owners across the world are dealing with tougher and tougher competition. The best way to compete is through a constant effort to become lean. Lean manufacturing was originally developed by Taiichi Ohno of Toyota. Logically, Mr Ohno determined that removing waste of any kind will result in becoming more competitive and profitable.

In today’s CAD CAM laboratory, most of you pay a staff person to scan. Interestingly, any trained scan person spends about 50% of the time waiting for the scanner to do what it does. Any scanner operator can manage two scanners simultaneously reducing wait time thus waste. That said, it’s very possible to scan 2X the number of cases one can scan in a given time period by simply adding a second scanner.

Let’s take a closer look at the math and ROI. Say you have a staff person, earning $15 an hour scanning with a single scanner 6 hours a day. Most of us provide PTO and other benefits that equate to a 30% addition labor cost, making the true labor cost for scanning for 6 hours, $117. Multiply that times 20 work days in a month and you spend $2,340 for this single operation. Adding a second scanner will double production per hour resulting in a $1170 savings per month (half or the $2,340). Adding a second scanner on a 5 year lease, let’s use a 3Shape D750 as an example, will add additional cost of $470 per month. The net labor savings will be $700 a month. In addition to the savings that drops directly to the bottom line, you have also built in redundancy in equipment resulting in security if you have a scanner problem. You will also get your scans complete earlier in the day to help move production along. Lasly, buying equipment prior to year end will qualify you for a tax code section 179 savings of about 1/3 the full cost or $8,300 come tax time.

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