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New Lab Gets Versatile New Workstations
Free-standing, versatile workstations set up in dental lab.
Holliston, MA — At one busy dental laboratory specializing in the manufacture of orthodontics and pediatric orthodontic appliances, installing new workbenches at a newly opened facility was more than just a simple equipment purchase. It was also the key to increasing productivity, and improving its image and laboratory technicians' morale.

Sophisticated designs, flexible configurations, enhanced lighting, and a host of other improvements give the new space the high quality European-designed image the lab coveted for its work areas — at an affordable price. The Lista Arlink modular bench system from Lista International Corporation provided just the right combination of affordability, flexibility, and durability to meet current needs and allow for adaptation to the future expansion the company envisions.

Time for a Change
In business since 1976, New England Orthodontic Laboratory (NEO-Lab), in Wilmington, Massachusetts is a dental laboratory specializing in orthodontics and pediatric dentistry appliances. . The staff of 20 technicians produces more than 150 different acrylic and stainless steel products, including retainers, night guards, mouthguards, expansion appliances, and holding arches.

These orthodontic products had been produced on benches that father and son owners Bill and Christian Saurman put together from stock cabinets purchased more than 13 years ago at a home improvement store. Long, narrow, laminate counters, with drawers on each end and a cubbyhole for knees were set up in 20-foot rows to accommodate technicians working side by side, coupled with inadequate lighting. When the business expanded, the pair began planning for a move to a larger, brand-new facility with all new computerized equipment in a space of 7,000 square feet. Their growth and success allowed them to consider replacing the aging benches with something more durable, modular and which could grow with the business. And yes, they confess to harboring just a little "bench envy" for the sleekness that the higher end benches have.

"When we put the old benches together 13 years ago, we were not in a position to invest heavily in high end benches," said Christian Saurman. "While serving our purpose, our old benches did not hold up well and we wanted the new ones to be sturdier and more functional." Bill Saurman added, "The bigger laboratories that invested in nice benches usually bought them overseas, because European benches were for the most part far ahead of the United States, but these are extremely expensive."

Exhaustive Research
Moving to the new facility gave NEO-Lab a clean slate and a golden opportunity to create a better atmosphere for the technicians, improve the workspace configuration, replace worn out benches, and install a universal look that could grow with them as they expand. With the larger space, the pair wanted to configure the lab floor flexibly, depending upon the need, rather than continue with the existing way of operating with older benches bolted to the wall. Conducting a thorough and thoughtful search for a new system, the Saurmans spoke to dental equipment distributors, e-mailed industry colleagues who had recently purchased new bench systems, and searched online for available options. They eventually compiled a list of four bench system options and looked at different ways of building out their new facility.

After all the research, the final choice was Lista International's Arlink modular bench system. The Arlink system has both stationary and mobile configurations, for the greatest flexibility. The extensive offering of system components and accessories allows a lab to design the exact bench that is needed. Since the benches come in five widths and three heights, choosing the dimensions to meet a specific lab's needs is made extremely easy.

"Our goal was to give each technician their own bench, and to make sure that the bench was of ample size," said Bill Saurman. "When we saw the Lista setup, it reminded us of high end European-type benches, which typically cost a fortune. Price is a big factor to us, and the Arlink system is really affordable."

In addition to getting very good reports from others, they went to visit the Lista factory in nearby Holliston, Massachusetts.

Ease of Assembly
Ease of assembly was another factor in making the choice; the Lista Arlink modular bench system sets up quickly and smoothly, requiring virtually no hardware or tools. Bill Saurman says, "I was the one who put the benches together. We bought two of the 26 benches about six months ago and set them up in the old lab to be sure they would do what we wanted them to do. It took me an hour to set up the first one, working with a pretty good set of instructions. Once we got it down, it was a walk in the park."

The flexibility to use the new space most efficiently was another key consideration. Both sides of the bench's supporting columns can be used in combination with corner work surfaces to form L, T, U and X arrangements. Workstations can be arranged back-to-back for even greater flexibility. Ergonomic design features make the benches extremely comfortable, eliminating wasted motion, and minimizing fatigue and strain.

Improved Productivity
Immediately after moving into the new lab, the Saurmans asked technicians to sit down at the bench and tell them what they liked best about the new setup. Top features on the list include the improved lighting, along with the 5 feet of individual work space. Working drawers and the extra wire rack on top of the bench came in for some additional praise, as well as the ability to tilt the lights and make other adjustments so the bench feels like their home away from home.

The electrical power beams containing eight plugs with one red circuit breaker switch are also a hit compared to the old system in which Christian Saurman checked multiple times to make sure soldering or other heating equipment was switched off for the night. The system is also configured so one switch can turn off the entire laboratory.

Another factor the technicians like is the benches' versatile configurations, which ensure that each bench has its own sense of space, but without so much separation that would make people feel that they are working totally alone. On one wall there may be three benches in a line, while another may use metal privacy panels to group four units together while making sure that facing benches are visually separated from each other.

The company offers several types of privacy panels in materials such as dry erase and tackboard, but the Saurman father-son team gave their employees the chance to choose their preference. The employees chose metal panels for a clean look and the ability to use magnets to easily post papers and such personal items as photographs. NEO-Lab also benefited from Lista's complete dental lab product line when it needed casework for the new facility. They were able to purchase a variety of drawer and shelf-based casework of acrylic, metal for use in storage, as well as other supplies and fittings. They also purchased integrated sink units from Lista for one-stop shopping, high-quality, and an affordable and stylish finish. "The bottom line is productivity," said Bill Saurman. "When we see how happy the technicians are we know we have gone in the right direction."

Contact: Lista International Corporation, 106 Lowland Street, Holliston, MA 01746 800-722-3020 fax: 508-626-0353 E-mail: Web:

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