Our expert Marcus Erler chats with Lars Tennler, CPO and head of orthopedic technology at Sanitätshaus Gunser, Germany, about his journey to digitalization.
You can find an excerpt here: (video in German only, see below)
Marcus: Why did you choose your profession as a prosthetist? What does the profession mean to you?
Lars: I was looking for a career in the manual field. The profession of orthopedic technician (prosthetist/orthotist) directly appealed to me after it was presented in a career counseling session: Working with people, being able to help them and gaining new experiences every day. Not every person is the same, every fitting is individual - that motivates me.
Marcus: How has the industry in Germany changed in recent years from your perspective? Digitalization in particular is no longer just a buzzword, but has arrived in orthopedic technology. How has this affected your work?
Lars: We started using scanning technology in orthotics 15 years ago! First, we scanned feet, then we moved on to milling insoles. Now we have reached the point where we scan body parts with an iPad scanner. We can then process and model these much faster on the PC. In other words, we are moving away from the workbench to the PC.
In the meantime, we're also looking at 3D printing, and for that, too, we simply need the digital data.
Marcus: What challenges did you encounter at the beginning? Were these more problems on the "human aspect", or more technical problems?
Lars: No, we as a team were immediately open to the topic. We had more of a technical issue: We started with a different software - it was very extensive and difficult to use. This is much easier now using the Mecuris software. As a result, we now have several employees working with it.
Marcus: The Mecuris Solution Platform, as a browser-based CAD software, offers you all the necessary work steps in one workflow, from pose correction to modeling a functional form to completely finishing an orthosis design. How has something like this supported you in your work? Does it help in your prefered workflow?
Lars: Yes. Starting at the beginning, from the scan to the final 3D-printed one, you can do everything in one step. I think that's great.
Marcus: What do you like most about the Mecuris Solution Platform? Why did you choose this software? Could it be that the program requirements for us CPOs, for our industry, already have to be specially tailored to our needs?
Lars: Exactly. You don't need to be an engineer to use this software. It's all kept quite simple, just as we used to stand at the workbench and work on the plaster model, that's how it works there now. There is a good and sufficient number of tools available to work on the model. Everything can be done in a few steps. This makes Mecuris’ software extremely good and easy to use.
Marcus: The possibility to leave the digital workflow by using the download function, for example after creating a special purpose model then create a milling model with this stl file, for example - is that also something that helps you in your everyday work?
Lars: Yes, of course. We have definitely created milling models from this, so that we can then continue to work by ourselves without having to have 3D printing done. Afterwards we basically have a foam positive instead of the plaster positive, which we then, process further.
Marcus: What will you need in the future? Where do you think there is still potential? Where can we support you even further and make your work even easier?
Lars: I am currently very satisfied with the way things are going. The support is going wonderfully. If we don't get anywhere, we simply pick up the phone and get help.
Marcus: We sometimes hear from customers that they want to work on other areas of the body digitally as well -e.g., hand, torso, etc.. which of course, makes sense. When I think of a torso, for example, making a torso cast for a corset fitting, that's obviously a lot of work in terms of materials. Do you think that this will become more of a topic for the industry? How do you see the future?
Lars: Yes, definitely. In principle, digital technology is already in the thick of things and will continue to gain momentum. That's for sure. Because there are simply fewer skilled workers. We have to make sure that we can compensate for this.
Marcus: Skilled workers - an important catchword. We also offer digital training on a regular basis. Is this also a positive issue for you?? Seeing you can stay focused on your everyday work instead of having to physically travel to a training session?
Lars: Exactly, especially in the area of software programs, it's great. You save time. You can stay at your workplace and participate directly in the seminar. They are also very structured and yes, they have helped us a lot. There is certainly room for further expansion.
If you want to check out the whole interview, click here (German only):
Curious? Do you also want to save valuable time in the physical workshop for you and your colleagues?