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Taking dental technology to a European level
The request that PUM received from Vietnamese dental laboratory DETEC proved the start of a series of successful missions in Asia. These varied from assistance in the manufacture of crowns and bridges to setting up a business link by means of the dissemination and provision of education.
DETEC, a dental laboratory in Hanoi, initially submitted a request to PUM to assist in upgrading the quality of its production of crowns, bridges and prostheses. During several missions to DETEC, PUM experts Ron Scholte and Werner Krause – both lecturers at the Dutch HealthTec Academy in Utrecht – shared their experience gained as a dental technician and a practitioner respectively.
Checklists for favourable manufacturing
‘It soon became clear that many of the difficulties that DETEC had experienced were due to a lack of communication,’ Ron explains. ‘For instance, close coordination between the dental technician and practitioner is required to manufacture a sound product. The two need to telephone and consult one another. However, this is not acceptable in the Asian society, particularly among the older generation. This implies that technicians simply produce what a practitioner asks for. As a result, many products, including crowns or bridges, do not fit properly or are unsuitable, and are simply returned to the lab. We therefore proceeded to compile a checklist, and issued advice with a view to improving both communication and manufacturing techniques.’
DETEC asked the PUM experts to return several times. ‘We noticed that the advice we issued during previous missions had been carefully heeded, and that gradual progress had therefore been made each time,’ Werner says. ‘In assessing this, the tidiness of the laboratory was one of the most useful indicators to us. It proved increasingly tidy. Once the basics had been dealt with, we went on to assist in making structural improvements in the area of accounting. For instance, we taught them how to charge customers for the products and services purchased, and how to keep track of what has been paid for and what not.’
Ron: ‘With a view to making the business truly futureproof, we even extended our efforts to the field of education. We have established numerous connections with universities during the course of our careers, and this enabled us to set up a business link between DETEC and various knowledge institutes and companies. We therefore succeeded in broadening the scope of the entire sector by involving the field of education.’
How would these PUM experts describe the impact that their missions have made? Werner: ‘There is now a raised level of awareness of the European standard for dental technology, among practitioners and technicians alike. They have also adopted a different attitude to working conditions. The laboratories’ proprietors are highly driven, and usually heed the advice and feedback received if it is financially feasible. The business link also enables us to share knowledge with dental technicians in Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh and Guatemala.’