February 22, 2012 - Mutualité Dentaire de l’Est (MDE) was created in 2008 with three sites and a staff of 64, all based in the East of France. It produced dental prostheses for dental and medical centers throughout the East of France. In 2010, turnover was over Euros 3.8 million, and growth over 8%. MDE was also certified ISO 9001 and ISO13485.
2010 saw the start of a move to new technology at the Company. " We wanted to set up a fourth production site near Strasbourg which would become our 'technological showcase", explains Daniel Quarrey, MDE director.
" Our objective was to supplement our traditional, craftsmanship oriented work by a digital machining solution including CNC machines, software and the required peripherals. Automating our production processes would enable our strategic growth plans."
In 2008, Daniel Quarrey travelled around France, Switzerland and Germany to investigate the various solutions on the market which might meet the Company’s objective. " I visited a great number of laboratories who had installed systems capable of 3+2 and 5 axis machining and I attended specialized industry trade fairs. Virtually every time I came across WorkNC Dental. I set up a project team of the Company’s production personnel in order to reach a collaborative decision. I really felt that it was important that they gave me their opinion on the specialized functions and features of the solution we were looking to select."
MDE’s specifications were both simple and highly complex at the same time. " We needed a complete solution; the CNC machine, the software application as well as the scanner and tools. That was the first criterion. Above all we were seeking a solution specifically designed for the dental prosthesis sector that would allow non technicians such as ourselves to use the system, quickly and efficiently."
In 2010 MDE identified the best solution for its requirements:
" It was a bit of a gamble for us but we appreciated and were impressed by the first class support provided for WorkNC Dental and by Willemin MACODEL", he added. " it was like a joint commitment ".
A dental prosthetist is a craftsman. He is also a creator, a sculptor, a modeler, a metallurgist and a polisher, etc. The different phases are a succession of manual operations. Today, technology replaces a number of these phases. Oral impressions, wax models, or data from intra oral scans, are required. WorkNC Dental retrieves the CAD data from the scanned model and the rest of the process is automated through machining wizards that ensure reliable toolpaths are generated fast. WorkNC Dental toolpaths are optimized depending on the material being machined. After the prosthetist checks the machining project (positioning, nesting optimization, creation of support pins), data is directly transferred to the Willemin Macodel CNC machine which then machines the part.
With the WorkNC Dental Automation Module also in use at MDE, the whole production process is automatically managed without the need for any user intervention. Thanks to a bidirectional communications system with the NC unit providing permanent control over the machine, the Automation Module allows the CNC machine to be stopped or run as required and is able to schedule jobs to be carried out depending on machine availability.
" I’m not a technician; so I don't get involved in the technical details at all", says Daniel Quarrey. "What I can tell you is that our craftsmen were quickly impressed and won over by the quality and the finish of prostheses produced by WorkNC Dental and the Willemin MACODEL CNC machine. They obtain consistent results which are difficult to achieve and guarantee through manual work."
The digital machining solution was implemented in February 2011. " We resized our activity taking into consideration the arrival of new technologies, but we are well aware that we did not fully exploit our resources last year", confides Daniel Quarrey. "We have much more ambitious objectives for 2012."
MDE’s objectives are:
- Use of the digital machining center to 80% of its capacity;
- Time savings of between 50 and 60%;
- Development of an inter-site strategy for more flexible, versatile operation;
- ROI over a maximum of 2 to 3 years;
- Increased productivity, thereby generating growth.
" MDE needed the digital machining solution and this has already had real impact on our expertise. Following the automation of the site near Strasbourg, we already passed a first milestone of 25% of daily production, the balance is still being managed manually. But the experience gained so far has shown us that there is huge scope for further progress and that we will be able to continue to increase our productivity due to the digital machining process.
At the start of 2012, MDE has 4 sites, a staff of 88, serving 16 dental medical centers employing around 90 dental surgeons. In 2011 this represented a turnover of Euros 4.5 million and over 20,000 prostheses produced exclusively in France. It's now up to us to determine the right processes, associated with the most suitable tools and efficient working procedures, as well as the correct strategy and best partners, to build the competitive advantages that will allow us to compete on equal terms with 'low cost' countries".
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