Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Revolution will be ...

The future is on my mind. In my past life, it never seemed to be *that* worth focusing on or planning for. Working in Aerospace, our tagline was “it’s late 80’s tech”, while in the quality dept of a machine shop, there was only concern for the parts in front of us, and even in my personal life “it’ll work out” or “whatever happens, happens” were often the prevalent thoughts. 

All changed when I joined Wenzel America last September. Suddenly, “the Future” was driven to the forefront of my mind by working with cutting edge technology, and passionate people. 

The Future is demanding much more attention - technology, training development, relationships, culture…. and even industry. 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution - The future of Industry or Industry 4.0 has been an unforeseen theme for me over the last 6 months and today, Wenzel America exhibited some of our own technologies at the Automation Alley “Technology Outlook” event at the Detroit Institute of Arts. 

Surrounded by beautiful artwork, some of it centuries old, “the Future” (and how it affects them) was on everyone’s mind. 

The event featured a great networking session, and ended with a Technology Industry Report and an open panel discussion on Industry 4.0 with companies at the forefront of the revolution. 

The benefits of using ‘Big Data’, supply chain streamlining, circular economy effects, and (somewhat surprisingly) the immense struggle to find enough qualified people to fill the employment need, were all things that were discussed at length. “But why should I care about all of this” asked one of the students in attendance, which prompted the room to laughter. I don’t think the student saw the irony in the question…. 



At lunch, Drew (Current President of Wenzel America) asked the familiar question “Why do we walk out of our social life, into our work life…. And leave the technology behind?”. Once again, I didn’t have an answer. We live in a social environment that is overwhelmingly interconnected. Information crosses multiple websites for marketing, Facebook listens to conversations, apps left and right are communicating and sharing to grow your “network” and improve your connections. 

Data matters when WE are the product, shouldn’t it matter when we manufacture products too? What if your oven told you when the element is close to burning out? Or your CNC Mill knew that the machine tools needed to be replaced? Or your CMM not only told you that your drive belts need replacing…. But actually ordered them for you? That’s the Revolution. 

The Wenzel Group is fully committed to an Industry 4.0 future and bringing new and innovative metrology solutions to support the manufacturing world. For our part here at Wenzel America, we will continue our dedication to providing flexible and innovative metrology solutions and assisting (or facilitating) the implementation of automation and other Industry 4.0 needs. 


We are also striving to grow awareness and exposure of manufacturing, here in Southeast Michigan, and across the USA through several different projects, and involvement with organizations such as Automation Alley.

The launch of our Instagram/Blog customer feature, offers a window into the huge breadth and great capabilities of manufacturers here in America, and offers a chance for their story to be told and shared with people who otherwise may not even be aware they exist. 

Manufacturing Day 2016 provided us an opportunity to inspire the next generation of workers, and demonstrate an industry that many of them didn’t even know existed! It was a great event, and we will be looking forward to providing similar opportunities throughout 2017.

For the customer feature visit: www.instagram.com/wenzelamerica 
and look for our quarterly blog posts.

To be featured contact SNichols@wenzelamerica.com

Click on the link for our MFGDay16 review. 


I’m excited about our future, and I hope you are too.

Stuart Nichols
Applications Manager 


For those of you that may not have heard about Industry 4.0 here’s an excerpt from Automation Alley’s Tom Kelly.
“Industry 4.0 is the marriage of the physical world and the digital world. It’s a concept that got its start in Germany, and it’s now becoming part of the manufacturing conversation around the world, but so far it’s been slow to catch on in the U.S. In this new era of making things, sensors at every step of the manufacturing process provide manufacturers with real-world data. This can be used to create models and run simulations in the digital world, allowing for continuous improvement, significant cost savings and a myriad of other benefits. In an Industry 4.0 factory, or “smart factory,” machines, devices, sensors and people are all interconnected and can communicate with each other. Digital systems work both autonomously and in collaboration with humans.” 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Do you want us?


Trade shows can be tough for all involved. The visitors are bombarded with sales offers and pressured from all sides for their contact information. On the other hand, the sales people presenting at the show are asked to stand for days and overloaded by management to “close those show goers”. With the show season beginning Wenzel America will be involved in eight trade shows this year. Let take a deeper look into the shows and see if any spark your interest!


March 2017 the Wenzel staff will be at two trade shows:

The first will be TECMA. TECMA is hosted in Mexico City Mexico from March 7th– 10th. TECMA will have more than 200 companies representing more than 800 brands focusing on the industrial sector. Steve Cormier and Jorge Borbolla will be at Renishaw Booth number 1024 and will represent a Wenzel LH 10.12.8 CMM with Renishaw probing. For more information please visit: http://tecma.org.mx/home-eng/

The second show in March will be AMUG in Chicago Illinois from March 19th to the 23rd. AMUG stands for Additive Manufacturing Users Group. This show specializes in the advancement of additive manufacturing technology. AMUG
provides in-depth education and training sessions by AM industry experts and OEM representatives.  

Individuals from all over the world attend the annual AMUG Conference to exchange ideas, learn new tips and tricks, and ask questions to other additive manufacturing users. For more information on the show please visit: http://www.additivemanufacturingusersgroup.com/. At this show you can visit Giles Gaskell and Bryn Edwards as they display Wenzel’s exaCT XS system and Giles Gaskell will speak on CT technology during the show presentation. 


 Starting in May Wenzel staff will present at two different shows.

The first show we would like to see you at is RAPID from May 8th through the 11th. Giles Gaskell and Scott Romain will present the Wenzel exaCT XS system live and provide information on the full line of Wenzel technologies. 

Rapid provide a platform for discovery, innovation, and networking in 3D manufacturing. At this show you can attend a variety of workshops covering concepts that will open your eyes to new manufacturing possibilities and advance your understanding of 3D printing, scanning, and additive manufacturing. 

Take the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of additive manufacturing, 3D scanning, and medical 3D printing. For more information please visit: http://www.rapid3devent.com/

The last show of the spring and second of May will be the EASTEC show. Steve Cormier
and Jonah DeLongchamp will present at booth 3223 the Wenzel CORE D and a XO CMM with a PH20. Come see the CORE D measure turbine blades using a spot of light as the CMM probe. 

EASTEC is New England’s premier manufacturing exposition, it will host more than 500 exhibitors and provide complimentary conference sessions, industry keynotes and much more. For more information please visit: http://easteconline.com/

This fall Wenzel will provide information on products and services at CMTS, The Quality show, The GEAR Show and the MD&M show. We will cover these shows in detail this summer. 

We all know these shows are necessary for our family of manufacturers, quality and service companies to collaborate on the future of the industry. Let’s keep working together and stay positive as the show year 2017 is just beginning!


If you would like more information regarding the shows, please call 248-295-4300 and ask for Scott Romain or email me at sromain@wenzelamerica.com


Monday, January 30, 2017

Are you my Mentor?

I was lucky to have had a few mentors I my life. I firmly believe I would not be in a position to be writing this without these special individuals guiding my life. Whether you are like me and come from humble beginnings or started with millions of dollars you probably had a special person or two that really made a difference in your life.

So, what is a mentor? A mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser.  When I read this definition, I could not shake the question; Could a company be a mentor? I think so. In my short time at Wenzel I have witnessed many activities that fall under the experienced and trusted adviser banner. We have helped many first time CMM buyers find the right product even when it was not a Wenzel CMM. We have hosted students to teach them not about Wenzel but about professionalism, industry skills and self-confidence. We pride ourselves in advising customers with truthful information.

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As a sales guy, I have the privilege of traveling… a lot. In my travels the common thread is the company I am visiting has a hard time finding talent. I would love to praise Wenzel for our mentorlike behavior but without your help our industry is in trouble. We all need great people to fill open positions so let’s put in a little work together and solve this! When you go back to work ask yourself; Is my company an experienced and trusted adviser to new hires or students in the field? If not now is the time to become part of the solution.

Small steps the make a big difference. Present industry information to high school students. You may only help one kid but look at it as planting the seeds of greatness in somebody. Reach out to your local community. It is great advertising and you have a chance to meet possible employees that would be missed otherwise. Partner with other companies to start/help trade programs. As a company, you can’t bring it all but collecting a few helpers (even competitors) can round out the message and offer more opportunity for all involved.

I ask that anybody reading this please share a mentorship experience in the comments so we can compile them and showcase the importance! If you would like to join Wenzel in a consortium to improve the workforce, please email Scott Romain at sromain@wenzelamerica.com

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Birth of a Salesman


As I adjust to my new position at Wenzel America as a Product Specialist in Gear Metrology, I’ve been exposed to many roles that fall upon me,one of them being Sales.


etrade-baby-then-and-now-1.jpgI’ve done much training in the past of how a product works, how its software functions, and navigating through equations in order to churn variables into numbers on a printout.

However, it is a different dance when a customer wonders whether your tools are the best, or rather, if it fits their needs just right.

If I’m honest, my naive self has subscribed to the evil stigma that salesmen are vicious creatures that just want to rope a customer into a product at any cost. The truth is that a salesman really should need and want to provide a solution for the customer.

There are various ways to go about this, and all require their own finesse….

salesconference.jpg
A salesman might opt to know as much about the product or service they’re selling in order to fire off the right information to an operator who might end up running the machine. This makes the salesman as relatable as possible to the customer. 

Another method of selling is to let the customer know that we might not have all of the answers for him, but we’ll be able to find the right person for them who does. Finally, a tactic that gives the personal touch is by saying that we aren’t like “the other guys.” This shows that the company as a whole has something else to offer that is unique. Regardless of which persona you might prefer, a salesman should know how to present a product, and this requires some technical knowledge.

This is where I believe the customer will appreciate me. I love understanding how a product works and what it can do for me. However, this doesn’t necessarily translate to a good solution for the customer since I can be seen as more of a reference book that has the answers instead of a tailor that will suit your needs. A salesman should know just enough to be able to relate to the customer without boring them or scaring them off with technical jargon.

Again, this might require some intrinsic need to understand the product, some genuine charisma, and maybe a bit of luck, since it takes ten times more effort to gain a customer than to retain one.
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Nevertheless, how did I start “training” fellow salesmen into delivering knowledge about Wenzel’s gear inspection machines? Mainly with easy bullet points to remember. The main aspects to highlight for our gear inspection machines, for example, is far more important than all of the technical details which can be easily reference in one of our brochures.

When it comes to technical terms, a simple mnemonic device, or memory association, can assist in remembering many little details. For example, as soon as one colleague saw a picture of a drive shaft, he remembered it as a dumbbell. 

IMG_0184.jpegThe funny thing is that engineers already have a nickname for these parts, although it is ‘dog bone.’ This reminded me of my 7th grade language arts teacher, Ms. Dalton, who, when first starting the Harry Potter series, referred to the character Hermione as simply ‘H’ because of the complexity of her name. Simple tricks like these in a salesman’s toolbox can aid in their credibility and expertise when providing a solution for a customer.

In that regard, simplifying the abilities of something like a gear inspection machine such as which probe thread size can be used or which models have a movable tailstock to a salesperson is just what customers will be looking for.

By the same token, the Sales team here at Wenzel America has been very knowledgeable explaining to me how I should approach a customer, e.g. if they already own one a Wenzel machine or what type of demo I would need to prepare for a customer. They’ve taught me the importance of how to communicate with who exactly I’ll be speaking with or teaching. 

This is a much different skillset than explaining software and numbers, which rarely change; people’s receptiveness, on the other hand, varies greatly. This will ensure that customers receive the best service from us no matter who they are interacting with.

maxresdefault.jpgEven though each have their own strengths, there is little argument for how effective a duo it is when both salesman and technical engineer assist with customer relations. Communications between all parties benefits all, as it should in many parts of the manufacturing process.

Just because I’ve moved from one country to another doesn’t mean that I have both my feet in one culture. In the same regard, customers now know that Wenzel’s team is a diverse, yet customer-centric one.

If you’d like to get in contact with one of our experienced salesmen, please do so at sales@wenzelamerica.com. If you have any other tips or anecdotes about how you’ve related to customers or salesmen, leave a comment below. We always like to hear your points of view!

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“I’m usually the guy without a suit”

Mariano Marks
Product Specialist – Gear Metrology
ASME GD&T Technologist Certified


Lost in Translation


Most people have mixed experiences when dealing with some form of troubleshooting and support. Whether it’s a company IT department asking the important questions like “Have you turned it off and back on again?” or a patient (if a bit patronizing) customer support representative attempting to guide you to the right menu all while you protest “No, the button isn’t showing up there, so where am I supposed to click again? OH THERE it is” (rinse and repeat).

At the end of it all, generally the  issue ends up being resolved, but not without some struggle to ensure that the important information isn’t lost in translation. Even seemingly simple things can easily be missed or confused in this sort of troubleshooting environment.

When you add the complications of an industry like metrology, machine space, coordinate systems, and alignments all contribute (add was already used earlier)add a layer of complexity that make traditional phone support nearly impossible. Tools like Teamviewer exist, giving us at Wenzel the ability to take control of a customer’s computer and environment directly, eliminating the likelihood of translation errors. But what happens if that’s still not enough? What happens if there’s an actual language barrier involved as well?



IMG_0535.JPG“Where is it now?”
“It’s moved…. maybe like ten metres”
“TEN METRES? That’s not right, where is your ‘0’ again?”
“It’s right here by the part”
“Are you completely sure?”
“Yes of course! Everything is designed the same way!!”

That’s an excerpt from conversations I’ve had with one of our design solutions’ customers who had a problem getting their CAD/Fixture/Mill locations to line up correctly in the milling environment.

After spending some long hours with video conferences, screen sharing, and good old-fashioned phone calls, we still hadn’t been able to find the resolution for their discrepancy between their CAD model and machine location. I made the decision that a visit would be the best way to resolve the situation.



Luckily enough, shortly after arriving, it was clear to me that this customer’s problem boiled down to three issues all with a strangely similar theme:



  • The ‘on the phone’ troubleshooting and explanations allowed small, important details to fall through the cracks
    • (I completely missed ensuring the use of a necessary coordinate system for alignment)
  • The CAD data created by a laser scan and then used for milling had a different ‘0’ (origin) than the CAD used for the fixture coordinates.
    • (This was illustrated by importing both CAD models into the software using the same alignment translation; they were about a metre apart)
  • IMG_0925 (Edited).JPG
    Cultural, language, and time-zone differences during training and troubleshooting also contributed



Anyone spot what those three things have in common? Translation... or maybe getting ‘lost in’. All in all, these issues, while individually minor, while individually minor issues added up to create a frustrating “We don’t know what we don’t know” circumstance for the customer, and myself, during the ‘traditional’ troubleshooting process.

Simple turned complicated quickly. I’m grateful for the opportunity to go on-site and provide hands-on support. With all the information easily available for interaction, and the customer’s full cooperation, we were able to turn complicated back to simple and resolve the issues.


cessna.jpg

So, what are the takeaways from this experience? Upon reflection, I was a little surprised that they aren’t so different as the takeaways from some major troubleshooting I’ve completed during my previous career in aerospace.

  1. The simplest explanation usually is the right one.
  2. Always pay attention to even seemingly minor details, both as a customer explaining the problem and most importantly as the personnel providing support. Nothing can slow down a process more than unexpected and unreported change and it’s always best to troubleshoot within an unchanged or predictable environment.
  3. Good training, documentation, and implementation are critical to success.
  4. Always check and re-check to ensure you have all the right information…. and that CAD ‘0’, really is CAD ‘0’. (Or maybe just that your ground wires are connected!)



I’d like to personally thank this particular customer, and all of our customers for their continued support.



Stuart Nichols
Applications Manager

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sleepless in Karlsruhe



The time – 9:30 PM. The place – a quaint little German town near the French border. The mission – Travel to a laundromat and do laundry. The only obstacle, of course, was the German language. 

However, since many Germans are very knowledgeable of the English language nowadays and it is the era of the smartphone, I walked into the waschhaus confident that I would be able to tackle such a trivial chore. As you’ll find, however, I almost went shirtless in Germany.

The first time around, I was fortunate to find a woman who spoke enough English to get me started with one of the smaller washing machines. As you’ll see in the picture, most can hold only 5 kg of clothes, although there was one that held 10 kg and another that held 14kg. 

I had enough laundry for one of the bigger machines, but since she was being so kind helping me, and I noticed the other two machines a little too late, I didn’t push it (to not look like a crazy person as well) and took what I could get. 

However, this only got half of my laundry done since the laundromat closed soon. I knew then I would have to return but at least I would know how to get a cup of detergent and pay for my clean underwear.


Fast forward to Thursday, November 10th. Determined even more, my hubris led me to try Big Bertha - the 14 kg laundry machine since I had amassed even more laundry to do. 

Without any help, I paid to start the machine, I got my cup of detergent, and after putting my clothes in, I looked at the controls and realized they were not the same as the smaller machines’. 

“No problem!” I think to myself since most of these have to be a combination of cold, lukewarm, and hot ware. “Sure!” I said to myself as I choose ‘Option 2’ and hit ‘Start’. I sit, and wait, scrolling through the smartphone I should’ve initially used to help me out…..


After the first half hour, I start wondering how much longer this machine would take since it is doing more laundry than the smaller one did. 

Surely, it couldn’t be much longer. Another half hour goes by, and I start hoping it isn’t that much longer since the laundromat would close at 11 PM and I still needed to dry my clothes afterwards. 

After an hour and a half, I get up to check how much longer the machine has left and I see it displays what time it will be done - 11:30! I couldn’t believe it, so I asked a young German to verify this for me and he said “Yep. That’s messed up!” 

Except he didn’t say ‘messed’ and I was wondering if I had to leave my wet clothes in the middle of Germany overnight. If I did, would I they still be there in the morning? I had to go to work anyways. What would I do? I praised German engineering as I tried to tug open the washing machine’s door unsuccessfully.

I dial the laundromat owner, explain my dilemma, and he kindly said that I could finish my laundry if I let the security guard know once he shows up to lock up. But what if the security guard doesn’t speak English as well? Or he refuses to let me stay?!? This was turning out to be more nerve wracking than public speaking.

At this time, I hear my washing machine unlatch, indicating that it is done. A birthday miracle! (My birthday was the 16th) I didn’t know how this was possible since it was only 10:30 but I didn’t think twice. I took my wet laundry to the dryer, dried it, and was able to get back to the hotel before the laundromat closed.

When I came back to the states, I told my boss this story and he intuitively wondered if the laundry machine didn’t account for Daylight Savings Time where all clocks went back an hour on November 6th. I laughed thinking about how lucky I was and how such an event could affect even the most trivial of tasks.

As a metrologist in training that week in Germany, I learned as much as I could from my colleagues about gear metrology, but my midnight experience also made me realize something about how we learn outside the workplace.

Image result for wenzel geartec gmbhThe resources I had at the laundromat were more than enough to help me avoid unnecessary anxiety and stress. I could’ve asked more people if I was doing my laundry correctly the second time, or I could’ve used my cell phone to translate more of the instructions that were right in front of me rather than using it too late to just make a phone call. 

For fear of looking silly or thinking I already knew how to do laundry, I decided to forego further assistance and ended up taking a chance that could’ve ended me in a bad situation. Even showing up earlier could’ve avoided my rush to finish washing my clothes.

This thinking extends to our workplace, of course, where taking an extra moment can help us avoid complications. Communication, even with the simplest assignments, isn’t useless, especially when multiple coworkers are involved. It is interesting the number of meetings I’ve found myself in where the more people there were, the less they were willing to share amongst themselves.

There is also something to be said about the differences that can be found between two very similar concepts. I have spent the last three years dealing with CMMs and have recently switched gears to - well - gears! Specifically, gear measurement machines (GMM’s) where I learn something new every day about them yet has recently caused me to do something that hasn’t happened to me in a long time - break a probe!

When in a new environment, we try to adapt in different ways; sometimes by being silent, sometimes by arrogance, but regardless, sometimes we have to solve problems by going back to basics, and we may overlook this in exchange for saving some time or making others content. 

As much as I like helping people measure gears, I also have learned to help others help themselves. After all, this is ultimately what makes our jobs easier and more enjoyable in the long run. Avoid this and you may find yourself shopping for new clothes in a different country.


Mariano Marks
Product Specialist – Gear Metrology

ASME GD&T Technologist Certified