By Danny Chan
In a globalised marketplace where large multinational corporations dictate the rules of the game, it’s always refreshing to find local businesses thriving, even punching above their weight. Andent, an Australian dental lab, proves that local touch and nationwide reach can coexist harmoniously.
Based in an inner-city suburb of Melbourne, Andent prides itself on being Australian-made, stating that its products are produced “in your backyard". The company's commitment to using local technicians, materials and suppliers is a welcoming change in the Industry 4.0 era, notorious for prizing global reach and profits over local community support.
Local operation means better QC and customer support
Andent’s Abbotsford laboratory serves as the core of its operations, allowing for personalized service that caters to individual clients' unique needs. The importance of this cannot be overstated in the dental industry, where customized solutions are a must.
From the POV of General Manager Matt Smith, Andent’s home-based operation affords a tighter QC process that translates to “a peace of mind” for dentists.
“It's essential for us to be 100% Australian made because it enables us to have control over the entire manufacturing process in-house, which allows for fast turnaround times, maintaining high standards, and delivering quality products to our customers.
“We have control over the whole workflow, including the machines, the CAD software, and staffing. We can see what's going into the product, how it's being developed, and how we can improve it.”
Being based in Melbourne, he adds, is beneficial given the larger population in Victoria, allowing Andent to employ more dental technicians and having better access to supply across the country.
We deliver to any Australian address
Andent's nationwide distribution network lets customers enjoy high-quality products and services no matter where they are in in the country. The company’s mantra “If there is an address, we will be there” underscores the maturity and scale of its “direct-to-door” interstate postal services.
Faster delivery times are a point of pride for Andent, thanks to its local production capabilities and robust distribution network.
“Having jobs locally made and having technicians on-site allows us to communicate with the dentists directly in case of any queries or complications.
“It helps in faster turnaround times, maintaining high standards, and delivering quality products to our customers.
In other words, local labs are able to achieve faster turnaround times by dint of sheer proximity to clients.
“We can receive cases from dentists and have them completed and returned in a shorter amount of time compared to if the lab was located overseas,” Smith explains.
“This not only saves time but also reduces the risk of cases being lost or damaged during shipping.
“Overall, being a local lab allows us to provide better customer service by being more responsive to our customers' needs and providing faster turnaround times.”
Andent guarantees 48-hour in-lab turnaround time
For urgent cases, Andent is offering a faster turnaround with its 48-Hour Range of dental crowns, consisting of six different materials.
The 48-hour range includes 100% monolithic zirconia, UTZirc 100%, IPS e.max® CAD, VITA ENAMIC®, VITA SUPRINITY®, and titanium. This premium line-up combines functional and aesthetically pleasing materials for both anterior and posterior crown restorations, priced at $315, and limited to three units per case.
“We often have dentists who book a standard turnaround, but will call us to expedite the process if for example, the temporary is broken or if the patient needs to rush the restoration for an upcoming event like a wedding or travel.”
Even though the in-lab process takes more time and craftsmanship, Andent prides itself on delivering a superior product, compared to chairside CAD/CAM services. With large industrial milling machines and skilled technicians, the lab is equipped to create the most intricate and superior aesthetic results possible. Andent also follows stringent protocols with consistent checkpoints and quality controls.
“We recently obtained ISO 13485 certification, which requires us to monitor our production line and cases throughout the entire process.
“This certification elevates our quality standards and provides customers with the assurance that our manufacturing procedures are documented and tracked, from the technicians to the final product.”
Taking the digital route
Of course, technology plays a pivotal role in making interstate business possible – in some ways, erasing borders altogether.
Currently, about 50%-60% of Andent’s cases arrive digitally either through the lab’s dedicated customer portal or email. Dentists who acquire their impressions with an intraoral scanner have much to benefit from Andent’s high-end digital facilities.
“It's improving turnaround times, it's improving quality, especially for those people that aren't local,” Matt emphasizes.
“It takes the guesswork out of the equation where we get to see in real-time, what the dentists are looking at – whether there’s enough clearance, if they can see the margin and contact points. With a traditional impression, you’re not going to know any such details until the model is poured, which makes it a lot more difficult.”
Smith says the ability to “zoom” into digital impressions, enables better control over material thickness, occlusions and contacts in high resolution detail.
“The use of computers and new materials has made the whole manufacturing process more reliable,” he adds.
“On our part, we work with a multitude of software companies, materials and different types of systems so that our customers are not locked into a specific material or system.
“To provide such flexible services, we need to stay up to date with the latest technology and products, often through attending regular in-house and external training programmes.”
The other ingredient to Andent’s cross-border success has to do with its offering flexible pathways for customers to get the support they need, in their preferred mode of communication.
“Our customer service team is available to make phone calls to discuss cases and purchase the products requested by the dentist. We offer different methods for customers to contact us, including the option to call, use our website, or portal,” Smith enthuses.
“With the right people, technology and equipment on our side, we have everything available to confidently extend a personalised local service – including our 48-Hour range – to the whole of Australia.”