23 May 2013

Schwafert Torsten: Wieland Is Setting New Digital Standards in Dentistry

Schwafert TorstenCreating an entirely digital dental laboratory ensures top-precision work at the same high level, and it doesn’t matter at which point of the globe production is based. New achievements in CAD/CAM technologies increasingly reassign ever more functions to software and automation, thus making production of dentures more technology-intensive but also less difficult. What demand exists in Russian laboratories for recent achievements in the field, and what innovations Germany-based Wieland is ready to offer to Russian specialists – we have discussed this all with Schwafert Torsten, CEO of Wieland Dental.

— What is your estimate of the Russian market? Is it ready to accept innovative technologies from Wieland?

— Ever since single-piece restorations became available, the technology had a huge potential in Russia. I believe that it will be universally accepted worldwide in future, for multiple reasons. First of all, patients favor metal-free solutions, because while they are fully compatible with biotissues and they also have superb esthetic properties. Then again, they are fairly simple to manufacture, and do not require the use of sophisticated dental equipment. We offer a rather affordable device that greatly simplifies manufacturing of such single-piece restorations. By now, 90% of all dentures in Russia are made of metal, but we believe that the situation is going to change dramatically in a few years, and then 75% of all dentures will be monolith, made entirely of zirconium.

— You made a presentation of your TRIOS intraoral scanner recently. Could you tell us more about the technology?

— This is an advanced technology indeed, and it’s becoming available in Russia this year. Intraoral scanning systems gradually transform the very principle of denture manufacturing. This technology totally eliminates the standard method that uses imprints and gypsum molds. The time it takes to make full-zirconium restorations is reduced to just one day. TRIOS scanning combined with our Mini milling machine and Zenostar materials ensure uniformly high quality of dental services provided to clients worldwide, and Russian patients will receive access to the same technology level as those in Tokyo, New York or Frankfurt.

— Do other companies offer any systems comparable to TRIOS, or are you the only manufacturer?

— The TRIOS scanner is being produced by our partner — 3Shape Company. But you see, many companies make separate products, while Wieland builds multiple products into a united technological concept. Therefore, we sell 3Shape products as part of a system. Use of our concept, plus total compliance of our technology-based production process guarantees a fairly low manufacturing cost of restorations — some €15 per unit — with comprehensive ten-years warranty.

— Are you going to bring new products to the Russian and international markets in 2013?

— We’ll continue our efforts to enable dental science’s migration to digital technologies and to improve esthetic qualities of our products. We’re also going to improve our software and hardware, and upgrade the systems that currently exist.

— There is word that Wieland is going to release a compact option of its system for cobalt-chromium milling, and that the system is expected to be widely used in future.

— We are considering this option at this time. Cobalt-chromium does have its advantages, and there is a technological possibility to use it. But marketing-wise, I still believe that the future belongs to monolith products that are seen today as number one in denture manufacturing.

— Are you going to make innovative materials in future?

— Yes, we really are going to focus on them. Wieland has developed materials and related technologies for over 140 years, and we continue our work to create materials that enable one-unit milling…

— The ZENOTEC mini device can be described as your Company’s unique product. How would you comment it?

— Right now, we are focused on improving of our milling machine that is really easy to use and affordable. Despite its small size, Zenotec Mini will be quite welcome even in large laboratories that could install multiple milling machines in the same shop to boost their output. With Zenotec Mini, you can use materials purchased from any other manufacturers – it’s a totally open system that we offer.

The seminar, Moscow 2012
— Wieland is known worldwide, and the Company’s products are available in many countries, but where are your sales the highest?

— Export is our strength as we trade with more than 45 countries. The Asian direction has been quite a success as a major exports market for us. In addition, we perform sales in China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and even some African countries. Incidentally, it’s a fortnight since we installed our first mini system in Kenya. Here’s evidence that our system can fit highly different environments. This is why the milling machine that we mentioned above is our bestseller: it is small, and easily adaptable to any conditions. We have started sales in Russia only last year, here we cooperate with UNIDENT, and we hope to sell some 10−15 systems by the year’s end, and a lot more next year.

— We’d like to learn more about your production facilities: where are they based, who are the operators, and how it is all organized.

— Our head office is based in the town of Pforzheim in South Germany, not far from Schwartzwald – Baden-Baden is the location that Russians may know as nearest to Pforzheim.  Pforzheim is home to our R&D department, and our office there manages our sales and logistics processes, and administrative issues. Our factory is not far from Frankfurt, some 200 km to Pforzheim, and it makes all types of ceramic materials. We also have a small center elsewhere that mills dental implants used in dentures. Apart from Germany, our offices also operate in Beijing, in Austria, and the USA.

Our employees are loyal and enthusiastic, they want their ideas to drive evolution of dentistry, and this is very important. Wieland has a history of 140 years, and its current employees combine tradition with innovation. In the recent five years, work in CAD/CAM technology sector has become key for us, and we have sold more than 2,000 CAD/CAM systems during the period.

— They say that your Company has various corporate programs for employees and clients.

— As is the tradition with many businesses in Germany, we have a Christmas party for all employees and a large-scale barbecue in summer. Many of our employees like cycling, and some of them recently went to Croatia, like our sales department who invite their clients on cycling tours. An employee of ours is into mountain hiking, and she has arranged a tour through Latin America for her clients and workmates. Our clients often call us ‘the Wieland family’. We hope that Russia-based specialists will join our corporate life. Whenever we have an opportunity, we invite specialists to Pforzheim, we think it is very important, because it is a chance to have a closer look at our Company. But of course you know that all, and we are glad that your clients and partners have visited us so many times.

— Now speaking about yourself, how long have you been with this Company?

— I became the CEO for Wieland three years ago. My family live near Frankfurt, we have two kids, and my family is very important for me. My job is time consuming, and besides, I have to travel a lot, so it doesn’t leave me much time for my family and recreation. Yet I think that I need to change this all. I use every opportunity to exercise: I play tennis, ride my mountain bike, and jog.

— My last question is our magazine’s traditional: What would you wish to our readers?

— We spend lots of time working, and the only way of having an eventful life is to love your job. I think that dentistry is one of really interesting businesses, particularly if one considers the changes that future has in store for us. I sincerely wish that your readers can find and enjoy the new opportunities.

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