By Carrie Cokely, CDT
With fall coming in just a few short weeks, it’s a good time to think about some things that can be improved in your lab before the busy season begins. One of the things that has always fascinated me is how lab technicians organize (or do not organize) their work stations. We all have daily habits that develop when doing the same tasks everyday. I have heard on more than one occasion “I know that my bench is a mess, but I know where everything is!” Have you ever been someone trying to find something on that person’s desk when they are not there?
If you are not yet motivated to get organized, here are some benefits to think about:
- Save time. Your time is the most important asset. Spend time productively and not searching for that thing you know is somewhere.
- Reduce mistakes. Have you ever accidentally used an engaging part on a bridge or milled a case with the wrong bur and had to remake it?
- Eliminate waste. If you can’t track your inventory or tools, you may end up with extra products sitting on your shelf when that money could be put to better use.
From my own experience as a technician of 20 years in various labs and milling centers, as well as input from OI customers big and small, we will share the top strategies and resources folks are using.
Going digital has eliminated some of the traditional tools that were used but has also introduced a new line of inventory that needs to be organized. Between your implant components, milling tools and pucks, this can be a challenge. I recommend that you do not take anything out of the original packaging until you are ready to use it.
The scanning technician deals with many parts when scanning abutments. If the incorrect scanbody is used this can be a costly mistake that is most likely not caught until the end at quality control or even cost you a customer. If you do not have a scan body kit for your parts you can utilize some other low cost options. I recommend using something that is easy to label, has enough room for all of your components, and fits in the scanning area.
Pill boxes are a very inexpensive option to hold scan bodies and analogs. They are also compact and do not take up a lot of real estate on the bench. Vendors like, Uline, also make some great containers with small compartments that can be labeled individually.
Milling inventory is another area in your laboratory that usually needs some attention. Taking extra measures to maintain your inventory in an organized way will help you reduce costs and give you visibility into what you are ordering. If you are not tech savvy or do not have an inventory tracking software there are some simple tools that you can utilize to make a huge impact. Here is how I would tackle this.
1. Organize your puck inventory by material. Keep all of your materials segregated and easy to identify.
2. Sort by size and material. If you have multiple sizes and shades you may need a larger rack with multiple bins. What I like about the Uline bins is they come in just about any size and color that you need. They also come with the labels to put outside of the bins. Use the labels!
3. Consider your surroundings. One of the things that I have underestimated in the past is the weight that is being loaded onto these racks. Zirconia is very heavy and you will need to stabilize the rack by mounting it to the wall. Another tip, make sure the pucks are placed horizontal and not vertical in these bins. It’s easier to get your hand on top to grab the puck and will also protect the puck from falling down and breaking.
The milling room is another area where tools tend to be misplaced or lost. You can buy foam inserts for your drawers and label them to keep things in order. It will also be a red flag for whoever is responsible if one goes missing. You can buy the foam and cut out the individual spots for your tools using an exacto knife. Use a label maker to mark where the tools belong.
At Open Implants we are organized to serve our customers and meet our high standards of quality as a medical device manufacturer. This insures that we have a dependable product every time and the customer can count on us to provide them with good quality parts and deliver the right items on time. I think this philosophy is so important and could really help your lab do the same.