“Disaster, man! We can’t fix this, we’re dead in the water. Done. Just done. Totally.”
“No, we can’t be. Not possible….”
…. But it was possible, and very real in fact. Under the perfect 75 degree sunny skies of L.A., the worst case scenario had forced its way into our lives, and all of a sudden the simple trade-show setup that was anticipated, became a lot more complicated. The machine we had packed for Solidworks World 2018 had been damaged during shipping, seemingly a one in a million chance.
What ensued was a frantic few hours involving machine tear down, evaluation, and diagnostics supported entirely by the Wenzel America service team via FaceTime. Our onsite team was prepared for the minimal machine adjustments that could be expected from such a move and required for setup, but as we removed covers, carefully inspected bearings, disassembled drive assemblies, and used our calibrated finger-tips to evaluate granite surfaces under the watchful lens of an iPhone camera – the risk of continuing on with the necessary repairs seemed too high. Our part’s delivery, and repair time frame were too close for comfort to the show opening. We left for the night exhausted, frustrated, but resolved: a technician would be there in the morning.
As a hands-on person and lover of technology, this was an especially tough call for me to make. Secretly I was thrilled by the idea of tearing into the CMM, doing some good old fashioned hands-on learning, and saving the show… or at least our little part of it (the CNC guys had their own setup struggles). But this was neither the time, nor the place.
“This is 100% the best plan, but dammit I wish we could just fix this thing right now!” I said angrily on the car ride back to the hotel.
“Right? I really didn’t even know the machine worked like that, I wish I did!” a colleague commented.
There I was again, living another example of the benefits of cross training while at an expo revolving around products designed to be flexible, multi-use, and multi-functional that reach into all aspects of industry. Is it crucial for an Applications Engineer, sales guy, or even myself, to be able to service a CMM? Is it crucial for a service engineer to be able to write an inspection program? Is it crucial that your quality personnel understand machining or that your design engineers understand production? The answer, of course, is probably not.
On average these roles are all, and possibly should all, be fairly specialized. The people in them pride themselves on being experts at what they do and perhaps have little interest in anything else… and that’s okay. I shouldn’t expect one of my department engineers to be able to handle service work, and you shouldn’t expect a manufacturing or design engineer to be a metrologist. But be on the look out for those people who are willing and able to broaden their experience and knowledge and invest in them. You never know when a little bit of extra knowledge may make all the difference.
In the end, disaster was averted – the flexibility of our staff onsite, combined with the expertise of our remote support resulted in an accurate diagnosis of the machine. A technician with parts was dispatched and within 24 hours of finding the problem, the machine was repaired and fully functional for the show’s preview event on Sunday. The “Shop Floor Product Showcase” was a huge hit at the show and highlighted the flexibility and cross-departmental function that the Solidworks software is well known for. As the show wound down, we debriefed with one of the SWW staff whose own plate had been too full with other pre-show challenges to be concerned with our small hiccup. They let out a sigh of relief, “Thank you guys so much for being flexible with that part-size difference! It really made everything go much more smoothly”. I looked at our team with a wry smile. “No problem…. It’s what we do!”
If you’re interested in learning about metrology, CMM programming/software, or even service on your CMM for cross-training purposes or otherwise, you can contact us here: https://www.wenzelamerica.com/support/training/ and as usual, I welcome your feedback.