EEN and Innovate UK help Kemdent streamline dental product manufacture

Dental wax company Kemdent massively increases output while decreasing emissions thanks to EEN. 

Measuring the impact of innovation on a business can be tricky. However, dental materials manufacturer Kemdent broke the mould, reducing production emissions by 30 per cent while increasing output by 100 per cent.

Founded in 1922, the Swindon-based company is striving to meet the demands of an ever-changing competitive global market. Manufacturing high-quality modelling waxes for 90 years, the dental company aims to increase its global export reach by the end of 2017, while also focusing more on Own Equipment Manufacture for other companies.

Previously, Kemdent used an outdated, emission heavy, uneconomical and labour intensive process for producing dental wax. The company, through R&D, developed a new wax line that drastically changed the business’ manufacturing operation.

The more eco-friendly and cost effective waxes reduced emissions drastically in a fierce economic environment.

With an ambitious growth strategy, the company were looking for extra help and discovered EEN support services through Medilink South West.

Linking up with Louise Hooker, EEN SW Sector Lead for Biomed and Life Sciences, they believed they could benefit greatly from the advice and support on offer through EEN.

Louise helped identify regional funding for the company. Kemdent received a £20,000 capital grant to build a new manufacturing production line, improving production rates of dental wax by 100 per cent. They were able to secure the future of its workforce - promoting an existing staff member - and are looking to employ three new members of staff by the end of 2018.

Having also struggled to recruit an apprentice, Louise made an introduction to Cogent Skills who helped them recruit an Apprentice Lab Technician and opened the door to recruit a graduate process developer/engineer in the future.

Introductions to software providers enabled Kemdent to move to a more automated compliance and regulatory process, freeing up more time to concentrate on growing sales and finding international partners.

Speaking of the support received, Kemdent Research and Development Supervisor James Holder, said:

“The help has been really important. We’ve had help through Medilink and had gone through the Growth Accelerator programme, but they are very specialist. We’ve never had someone like Louise.

She has been able to provide advice and expert knowledge on the bigger picture and link us to local and international opportunities and partners to provide more holistic support.

 “EEN services have been vital to help us improve our systems, our productivity, job creation, and keeping existing jobs stable. We wouldn’t have been able to source that information ourselves, and if so, it would have taken us 10 times as long. There doesn’t seem to be any issue or problem that I have spoken to Louise or any of the team about that they haven’t provided information for.”

Currently exporting to over 40 countries, Kemdent is set to increase its global market by exploring more opportunities, particularly in Europe. Through the network introductions that have been made to a number of potential European partners. Kemdent

has promising interest and it is now in discussions with companies in Sweden and Greece. Louise is also working strategically with international healthcare sector colleagues to facilitate more introductions.

Kemdent plans to continue to refine manufacturing processes and develop its growth strategy. The company also wants to increase Own Equipment Manufacturing, where it makes products under different brands.

Originally seeing R&D and innovation as a risk, the company has now increased its budget in the field and sees it as part of the business model moving forward, which is crucial for its plans.

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