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

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Manufacturing Fun

Last month Wenzel America participated in our first Manufacturing Day, an event designed to expose high school students to the world of manufacturing, and hopefully build their interest in a manufacturing based career.

It was a great event for us, bringing 15 local students to our office for in depth demonstrations on metrology principles, GD&T, CMM mechanics, and CT scanning technology. The students gained an appreciation for what the world of metrology has to offer, and how it fits into the ecosystem that is Manufacturing.

For us, it was a refreshing event. Often in our daily working lives, we interact with customers, vendors, and partners; all of whom are very well versed, if not experts in their respective fields. Because of this, it is easy to take for granted the amazing world of manufacturing that we get to be a part of.

Sharing our knowledge with a group of students is a great reminder that what we do can be an exciting and fascinating job. For example; showing them how a CT system can scan a medical implant used to treat degenerative diseases, highlights not only our technology, but the amazing work being done in Manufacturing to advance the quality of life in a patient.

Teaching the students about the language of GD&T provides not only an insight into how the Engineering and Manufacturing communities communicate, but also gives an opportunity to discuss how large-scale manufacturing can be done around the world with a level of quality, consistency, and speed that was unthinkable 30 years ago.

Demonstrating the the principles of how a CMM works, and basic maintenance techniques is also an interesting experience for the students. Increasingly our lives are filled with disposable items, or “Black Box” items like the phones in our pockets.

We may have an understanding of how they work generally, but we never get our hands on the inner workings. Pulling back the covers on a machine, gives insight into how elegantly these type of systems work; the balance of strength, accuracy, and fluidity that makes a CMM so good at what it does. This type of insight, can be increasingly rare in our modern world.

What we found at the end of #MFGDAY16 was that sharing what we know with these kids, helped us remember that what we do can be very cool sometimes. We are fortunate to work with some very talented people on some very exciting projects, and taking a moment to appreciate that, can add a little fun to the day.

Hopefully, we’ve planted some seeds among the next generation so they can bring their talents to the table and help our Manufacturing community stay strong and resilient.

So what does this have to do with you, the reader? I’m guessing, each of you plays an interesting part in this Manufacturing world as well, or you wouldn’t be reading this. Whether you are making chips, or checking parts, you each touch some part of this web that is our industrial base.

I would encourage you to reach out to the organizers of #MFGDAY and see how you can participate next year, to help build a stronger future for us all. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. Find out more here.

A taste of AUKOM

At times, a good team of metrologists must sharpen the axe to cut down some of those precious microns. Strengthening our understanding of the basic concepts of metrology will only allow us to expand our thinking and, thus, our knowledge base.

A team of employees in an organization should have no ambiguity when discussing even the most trivial of topics. This ensures efficiency, communication, and, what we’re all here for, quality. Luckily, an organization has been formed that helps metrologists stay on their toes on the basics of metrology while demonstrating the latest developments in the field. That organization is AUKOM.

AUKOM was a result of a three-year research project (1998-2001) of the Quality Research Association (FQS in Germany), financed by the German Ministry of Labor and Economy, in cooperation with the most important manufacturers, some of the more prominent users of coordinate measuring machines, and from research at the QFM - University of Erlangen-N├╝rnberg.

Its aim is to provide an up-to-date, comparable, controllable, comprehensive, and certifiable training regarding industrial production metrology, particularly in the area of coordinate metrology. This will result in three crucial aspects that should be inherent to anyone who cares about the quality of their products as well as their customers: to reduce costs, to minimize waste, and to make effective decisions.

The members of the organization have certified trainers which are responsible for the delivery of said training and also help promote the organization while ensuring that the standard and compatibility of the courses stays current. Overall, the courses help spread “good measurement practice” among production engineers, managers, design engineers, and, of course, metrologists.

There are currently seven different possible courses available from AUKOM, although certain courses would only be needed depending on the student’s need and job. They provide a machine-free, manufacturer-neutral training that cover simple mathematics and physics concepts that relate to different CMM types and also metrology practices followed by worldwide standards.

The classes are carried out in a classroom environment, either on-site or at the partner company’s facility, for up to 12 students. Classes are in presentation format and students also receive their own training manual. Instructors also enhance the lectures with hand tools and CMM and software demonstrations, if possible. Another great aspect of the courses is the open discussion that is encouraged between the students which is natural given the different backgrounds of the students that attend.

AUKOM Level 1 is the most common starting point and is aimed at production metrologists, although those with a close relationship with metrology-related tasks or those who wish to get a basic introduction into the basics of metrology should start with this course.

This course covers basic dimensonal tolerancing, unit conversions, geometric elements, programming basics, machine and sensor technology, evaluation of measurements, uncertainty effects, and the importance of documentation and quality management.

AUKOM Level 2 is a continuation of Level 1 and has been split into three different categories depending on what type of tasks are carried out. The students can choose between a CMM, Form, or Computer Tomography tailored class.

Still, it delves more into form and positional tolerances, the measuring strategies of tacile, image processing, and distance sensors, freeform surfaces, evaluation methods, reduction of errors on the measurement results, documentation of results, and equipment monitoring.

AUKOM Level 3 is an advanced course that should be taken by those who have an extensive background in metrology. It challenges the students to think about digital filtering and evaluation methods, monitoring of CMMs to the ISO standard, measurement uncertainty and measurement, quality management, and process monitoring.
AUKOM Levels 1-3 courses consist of four days of instructional material followed by an examination on the fifth day which, if passed with a 67% or above, results in a certificate for the participant demonstrating their ability in the concepts covered by that course.

AUKOM 2 and 3 have the preceding level course as a prerequisite although the course content may be skipped and the examination alone can be taken. However, this is not recommended so as to not miss any thorough content that would be provided with the actual course.

There is also an AUKOM GD&T course which consists of three days of material with no examination and covers the GD&T symbols along with how the evaluations work with a heavier influence in the ISO standard. Differences between the ISO and ASME standards is also covered.

Finally, an AUKOM Management Workshop is also offered, which also consists of three days of material with no examination, for Quality Managers, inspection planners, vendor managers, and others. This course helps those in supervisory roles manage and monitor their production process through measurement control analysis while also explaining some of the more basic concepts like measurement strategies and the golden rule of metrology.

In summary, AUKOM is here to help you establish measurement results that can be compared worldwide. The biggest names in the industry have realized the importance of establishing and maintaining such standardized methodologies.

The Wenzel Group in Germany is proud to be a certified AUKOM partner and holds classes regularly! Keep an eye out for AUKOM courses in the US from Wenzel America.

For more information, please visit AUKOM’s website here or if you have any other AUKOM related questions, contact us here to see how you can get certified with AUKOM!

Mariano Marks

Life Lists

I have met 2 types of people in my life. The first are people that are organized and always seem to know what needs to be done next. The second (people like me) are seen as scattered and can barely remember where their office is.

Ok I know that is a simple view but looking at the extremes of human behavior can lead all of us in the middle with helpful tools to navigate life.

cockpitchecklist.jpgWhy make Life Lists in the first place? It is human nature to forget little things that are done repeatedly and the little things are what make people successful. As a pilot, I recall watching a plane land without the landing gear down.

The plane was totaled but the pilot was thankfully OK. I asked him what had happened and his reply was classic. “I was so focused on the landing that I forgot the checklist.” This event cost that pilot $390,000 in damages and it could have been worse. Have you ever been so focused on something that you forget the details? Yes we all have!

Just as pilots have a great responsibility for lives we also have a responsibility to be the best people we can be. Forgetting the CEOs name or showing up late to a meeting can cost your company money or you your job. Missing a birthday because you forgot could destroy a year's’ worth of dreams. Below are some examples of Life Lists and how to start making them so you can be the best you.

success.jpgStart simple and make a life list for your morning routine or one for before you go to bed. Try a before a customer visit or what you do when you get an order. Any task that has steps can benefit from life lists.

While you are doing the task just document the steps. When this opportunity comes again pull out your draft and see if any steps need to be added.

After one or two tries you will have a reliable life list. Remember they do not need to be paper notes. They could be reminders on your calendar or a bookmark folder with all the websites you need to visit Daily.

As you implement more life lists your time will not be wasted with repeated mistakes and you brain will be free to work on the tough problems without the danger of forgetting the little things. As manages you lists can be used to delegate tasks without the need for your direct oversight.

Make life lists fun and embrace them. After a little effort you will be free to succeed!

“I'm high maintenance, but I'm worth it.”

Does anyone know who that quote is from? I sure didn’t. It was said by Lara Logan, CBS correspondent. High maintenance: the idea of needing a lot of work and attention. It sounds daunting, time consuming and costly: surely people should want LOW maintenance! 

As I scoured the internet to try and solve the enigma that is maintenance (or maybe the lack of it?), I read quote after quote about how to become lower maintenance, or higher maintenance, or why high is better than low, or visa versa… this phrase “but I’m worth it” stuck out to me.

IMG_0307.JPGEveryone seems to be declaring one or the other as something that adds value to their individual qualities. So which is it? What has more worth? High-maintenance, or low-maintenance? The answer is likely to be different for everyone, but what if we add a third option?

“Prevention is better than cure” or to borrow the popular saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. We’re all familiar with this concept. Both the high maintenance people (who absolutely have to fit their diet and gym routine into a day), and the low maintenance people (who might diet and exercise just to feel better), can probably agree that they are engaged in the prevention of future unknown, painful, and costly health risks.

Why then is it, that we in the manufacturing and industry might have such a hard time applying the same preventative concept to the tools and machines that we use?

Why do we frequently allow our equipment to go without the cleaning, lubrication, testing and adjustment that, while we may consider it “high maintenance”, will assuredly prove to prevent future complications… Worth it.
I work for the manufacturer of highly precise, measuring instruments (yes I said “instrument” not machine), whenever I hear stories of dirty Y-axis rail, or wet and dirty air being fed to our equipment, I can’t help feeling a little despondent.

As a violinist and guitar player, I was taught to take the utmost precautions to protect my instruments from moisture, dirt and other damages, ensuring their longevity, tonal accuracy and precision.

Should not the same principles be applied to instruments that are used specifically because they assure the user the highest accuracy and precise measurement? Isn’t a simple daily wipe down of your machine, worth the effort to keep your machine air-bearings functioning at their highest level for as long as possible?

IMG_0296.JPGNext time you are standing next to your Wenzel CMM, I challenge you not to view it in the way that so many of us view mills and lathes: as machines. Instead, look at it for what it truly is: a high performance, precision measuring instrument, capable of incredible accuracy…. but also, requiring some routine care.

Clean your probes, clean (and dry) your air supply, and if nothing else, PLEASE (I’m begging you here) clean your air bearing and granite surfaces. If you do not, then we risk proving Kurt Vonnegut right when he wrote: “Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.”

Trust me, your instruments will thank you.
If you don’t feel prepared to tackle your CMM’s maintenance, I and the staff at Wenzel are always happy to help. Keep an eye out for our release of a more in depth user-guide to your CMM maintenance.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Learning a new language is as easy as G-D-T

Learning a new language is as easy as G-D-T

Have you ever tried to assemble IKEA furniture and found yourself giving up halfway through the instructions? 

It’s a good thing those that build our airplanes, cars, printers, implants, and every other device in between don’t. This probably has something to do with the standardization of engineering tolerances in drawings.

Since we live in the real world, no part can ever be made perfectly! This means that we allow some manufacturing error into each part that comes out of the production line. 

But how do we demonstrate how much error is allowed? In order to make parts correctly that spin at 10,000 RPM or can fit inside of your hip, a set of rules needed to be established so that there is no ambiguity in stating where each hole should be located from a particular datum or how round a bore should be.

Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing is the system that defines and communicates engineering tolerances. It tells the manufacturing staff what degree of accuracy and precision is needed on each controlled feature of a part. It doesn’t just help define how much variation a specific feature on a part may have, but also the variation between features as well.

There are multiple standards available worldwide that describe the symbols and define the
rules used in GD&T. One such standard is American Society of Mechanical Engineers Y14.5 whose latest and active standard is the one from 2009. 

By comparison, another widely used standard which is growing in popularity are those used by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Although ASME provides all of their information in one document, this means that it is not updated as often (the last standard was in 1994). 

This is different from ISO who typically addresses one topic at a time (i.e. ISO 10360 – CMM accuracy testing and performance verification) but receives revisions more frequently. Even though ISO is understandably more prevalent throughout the world, ASME is more dominant in the United States.

It is important to remember that the standards serve as a complete method to deliver design intent of parts through symbolic language between designers, manufacturers, and quality control. This means that communication and collaboration between all departments is vital for the production process not only due to reduction in cost, time, and energy but most important of all, for the customer. 

This is because GD&T can help you solve one of the most important problems in manufacturing: to make tolerances as wide as possible. A tighter tolerance does not equal a better part; it equals a more expensive part!

It is the same issue when two people speak a different language. An interpreter is needed which slows everything down and increases costs. If a problem arises with the manufacturing of a part, any two employees should be able to agree unequivocally on the information at hand with no ambiguity so as to not risk delays, confusion, and frustration. Many a time have I seen prints where True Position has been incorrectly applied or other controls have been applied just because they can be.

In the example below, note how the original callout is illegal since it is ambiguous as to how the total width tolerance zone should be applied. Two solutions are offered but note how the 0.3x0.3 mm square tolerance zone that is made with the second solution is larger than the 0.3 mm diameter cylindrical tolerance zone made by the first solution. 

Typically, however, it is more functional to use the cylindrical tolerance zone so an understanding of the function of the part or assembly is necessary. A little knowledge can go a long way.

Original -Illegal           



If you already use GD&T daily in your workplace and you’d really like to demonstrate your technical know-how with this language, you are able to get certified by ASME to a standard. ASME established the Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing Professional (GDTP) Certification Program which provides the means to recognize proficiency in the understanding and application of the geometric dimensioning and tolerancing principles described in the Y14.5 standard. 

Those who would benefit best from this certification would be production/manufacturing engineers, design/process/quality engineers; tool or gage engineers, managers, programmers, and anyone who might work or develop CAD, CAM, or CAE software. Even then, this is still a limited list.

There are two levels of examination available. The Technologist level examination is a maximum of four hours in duration consisting of 100 to 150 questions. It tests the ability of an individual to understand technical drawings and definitions. The Senior level examination is a maximum of six hours and contains questions that are slightly higher level than the Technologist level exam testing the ability to select and apply geometric controls to drawings. The examination is structured as a closed book, multiple choice, computer-assisted examination and ASME membership is not a requirement.


At the time of this writing, the exam for the 1994 standard is available although the exam for the 2009 standard is just around the corner. Certification for both levels (to the same edition of Y14.5) may be renewed without retaking the exam upon verification by ASME of involvement with GD&T for at least 24 of the previous 36 months.

At Wenzel America, we pride ourselves in finding the best metrology solutions for you by following the most up-to-date standards in the field which means that we provide the best value since nothing gets lost in translation! If you’d like more information, check out ASME’s website here or go directly to their GDTP applicant information here.

I’m proud to say that I am an ASME Technologist GDTP certificate holder to the 1994 standard. Throughout my preparation for the exam, I can recommend this guide by  Robert H. Nickolaisen for great practice problems. If you would like additional practice problems that I’ve found, or have any GD&T related questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us here and speak some GD&T-ese with us!

Mariano Marks