Transforming the Dental Laboratories at the University Dental Hospital in Cardiff

By Roger Maggs

The University Dental Hospital in Cardiff (UDHC) treats around 100,000 patients each year, and is a highly regarded teaching hospital for dental professionals in training. Undergraduates undergo practical training by assessing and treating patients under the supervision of highly qualified professionals. The Hospital has two dental laboratories on site, in which the in-house technicians create the quality restorations needed to provide the best possible service to patients.

Roger Maggs is the Senior Dental Laboratory Manager at UDHC, with extensive skills and knowledge in the profession. He recently decided to refurbish the laboratories in order to better meet the ever-changing demands of the modern dental laboratory industry.


How it all began

With the numbers of staff and undergraduate and postgraduate students increasing at the UDHCC, the number of technicians has also had to increase in order to meet the demand on the laboratory. Only a limited amount of space was available at UDHC, and the decision was made to place a three man laboratory at one of the undergraduate ‘out-reach centres’, in this case, Mountain Ash.

The metal finishing room at the UDHC was also becoming inefficient and was in need of an upgrade. We were having issues with ergonomics and constant breakdowns of equipment, despite this room only being refurbished about three years ago! After this experience of a cheap and inadequate installation, I wanted to look for the best, and find something that would last longer than three years!

One of my many criteria stipulations for a new installation, was a personal recommendation from someone in the profession, as I think this is the most reliable form of marketing for an efficient company. In this case, the suggestion came from two newly appointed technicians who had worked in Manchester Dental Hospital, whose feedback was very complimentary about Tavom UK cabinetry. This was what instigated my contact with John Winter & Co Ltd for more information about Tavom UK and their products, and so I met Brendan Foster.


Design Process

After an excellent presentation by Brendan showing some of the recent installations Tavom UK had completed, we decided drawings and a quote were required. Members of the team from Tavom UK soon arrived on site to assess the premises, and the detail of the site survey was very impressive!

When we began working on the design of the new laboratory, it basically involved refreshing and updating the old cabinetry, with some specific additions that Tavom UK suggested. The surveyor made some excellent recommendations to maximise space and improve our design, such as the tailor made laser welder stand. This quote went ahead with another company also suggested by Tavom UK, who had equitable time and site access, with value for money backed by the potential longevity of the product being the main criteria.

We even decided to decorate the laboratories with’ Grand Slam Red’ to honour the Welsh Rugby Six Nations Grand Slam win! Our laboratories were therefore personalised to mine and my colleagues’ own tastes, which was great considering we spend so much time within the rooms. With ergonomic and easy-to-clean cabinetry, all our criteria were fulfilled, and so we agreed the contract.


Installation Process

The specification required for the workstations and associated cabinetry was fully met by the engineers. At this stage it was apparent that Tavom UK were sticklers for detail and it still amazes me the number of times they measured and re-measured the walls!

Once the installation dates were agreed a comprehensive timetable was suggested and created, and each lab was installed one day after the other involving only three rooms. As the whole process was only to take a couple of days, it meant the laboratory and the metal finishing room only had to remain closed for two days, completely eliminating the need for an expensive and drawn-out shut down. The previous site surveys were also so accurate, that when the cabinetry was delivered, it all simply slotted into place with no adjustments needed at all. The installation was in fact completed half a day ahead of schedule, and the disruption to the laboratory was absolutely minimal!


In Conclusion

With only two site visits at each site then submission of drawings that were so accurate that no amendments were needed, the entire process only took about six weeks, including the lead time for the manufacturing of the cabinetry.

The whole project was funded by the hospital, as a solid investment to improve the service provided to our dentists and their patients, and I think it will do just that. The new laboratories will allow for a much more efficient workflow, especially with the recent increase in requests for complex metal castings, and this is where we will reap the benefits. By being able to create quality restorations quickly and accurately every time, our technicians will not only enhance the service to our dentists, but will also enjoy a slightly easier and stress-free day. The working environment is also now much brighter and a far more pleasant place to be in, making it a joy once again to go to work.

The labs in fact look sensational and are even better than expected with all the staff taking care to look after such beautiful equipment that works so well! From the initial designs right through to completion, the process was slick, all promises were met, and the end product was better than we could have imagined. We were seeking as close to perfection as possible – and in this case, I think we achieved it!