I’ve been asked this question quite a lot since joining Wenzel America last September. Friends, family, acquaintances, and occasionally even colleagues. Not many people immediately recognize what function an Applications Engineering department fills. As I would begin to embark on explaining metrology, CMMs, software development, coding, customer relationships, sales, project management and revealing that metrology is NOT in fact meteorology… people’s eyes started to glaze over.
The description ends up something more like this: “Oh… uhh well, I’m an engineering manager” followed up by an “ohh cool!” or similar response. Luckily, I’m not entirely unused to this sort of conversation. Over my career I’ve typically taken on the “wearing many hats” roles that are defined by the exciting and difficult challenges they present, well beyond answering the age-old formality.
So what do we do? As I think back over the last year, what the department has accomplished and intends to accomplish, I’ve settled on a simple definition: Training and Support.
Application support encompasses many tasks such as:
Software and machine demonstrations.
Each presenting their own challenges.
(Please note: Technical Support is handled directly through our hotline here.
When I began managing my first few large projects at Wenzel, it quickly became clear that while the current situation was functioning, there was room for improvement. We needed to increase the sales and application team’s efficiency and provide a more consistent customer experience.
In the aviation industry, approved processes and procedures are required to clearly define all relevant information for a project. One of the ways I brought this mentality to Wenzel was by developing and implementing the Demo Request Procedure. This procedure is in place to control our product demonstrations.
When a customer requests to see how a probe system can inspect a part or wants to learn about a particular software function, all the Wenzel personnel involved collect and have access to the materials regarding that request. This ensures a high standard of demonstration, tailored to the customers parts and/or industry.
Training is more singularly defined but no less complex. Most of us that have been a trainer or trainee, know that imparting knowledge on other people is no small task, whether in a classroom or in an on-the-job atmosphere.
I’ve grown up with the mindset that to learn you must do, and to do you must be provided with good materials. At the age of 3, I began learning classical violin using the Suzuki method. Suzuki places emphasis on learning by listening, repetition, step-by-step mastery, vocabulary, memorization and individual/group activities. These learning principles were built upon throughout my life in other activities and sports – always focussing on a repetitive, hands-on experience.
Bringing this style of learning to our OpenDMIS Basic Training classes has been a high priority project since I joined Wenzel America. A complete overhaul of our training manual and redesign of the in-classroom environment entered the trial phase of development during the June class.
Taking away the lecture-intensive aspects of the classroom, the instructor’s goal is to provide a hands on, interactive learning experience. Guided through the materials by the instructor demonstrating the software on a second monitor, students will complete group and individual assignments and other activities related to the operation and programming of their CMM and software.
This new hands-on method is designed to prepare entry-level CMM operators and programmers with the tools to return to their facilities and program OpenDMIS for the inspection of parts. Trainee’s will also leave the class with a solution file (program) which provides a reference tool to look back on after the training.
We are looking forward to our customers, new and returning, experiencing some of these changes and as always, we welcome your feedback. Feel free to contact us online or email me directly.
Stuart Nichols – Applications Manager