Hard to Find Standards in Inspection Training – Wenzel America Interview

We’re sitting down with Mariano and Drew from Wenzel America and we’re talking a bit about education for inspectors and what is required to move the industry forward into the future. And I want to say welcome to the show Mariano. How are you doing today?

Mariano: Good. How are you doing?

Allan: I’m doing well. Thank you very much and Drew, how are you doing? What do you have going on today? I know you were on the show a couple months ago, and we wanted to have you back. You brought Mariano with us.

Drew: Well, yeah, thank you very much for having us back. The last time I was on, it was my first podcast and you guys made it a very enjoyable and safe experience. So, thank you for that. But this is a fun way to have a conversation and also share a little bit of information with our customers and your audience. So, we appreciate you giving us the opportunity.

Allan: Yeah, totally. It just shares information with the world. That’s what we’re here for. Cathy, are you doing good today?

Cathy: I am, we are running at full tilt here at Phillips. So yeah, it’s a little crazy. It’s a good crazy though. I feel like we have a lot of positive things to say in a world that isn’t so positive these days. So, I think we’re doing really really really well. At some point soon we’re going to open up the floodgates again for manufacturing. Part of our goal in our company is to create awareness about education and manufacturing. And today we’re going to touch on inspection education. And I know AJ, you’ve done a lot of research recently about just trying to figure out what programs are available. It’s kind of a lost area of the industry. Other areas of manufacturing have really been coming along quite well as far as the programs, the money the federal government, state, and local government puts towards manufacturing education as a whole. But specifically, inspection – Maybe it’s just my feeling but I think your research recently and trying to uncover programs has also confirmed the fact that there’s not a lot out there. We’re here today to talk to Wenzel about this program. Talk through it, learn about it, and then maybe talk a little bit about scaling it and bringing it to a much higher level in the United States.

Allan: Mariano do you want to get started and introduce who you are, what we’re here for, and what we’re going to be talking about today.

Mariano: Sure, thank you very much for having me. This is the first time I’m doing this but I’m extremely excited. I wish I could frame this by the end, but it will just be out there on the ether. So, I’m Mariano Marks. I’m the application manager here at Wenzel America and I started in the Metrology field back in 2013 as a trainer. That’s where my passion for education is. I trained customers for another Metrology company and here at Wenzel, I wear many hats. But essentially training customers at Wixom and also on site if need be. And now also we’re going to be ramping up online training as well, granted our current situation. Just teaching, not only AUKOM, but our other Metrology software and just getting the word out.

Allan: Cool. Why do we have an inspection? Why is it so important? And why is it important to ramp up with the education for inspectors and get people on board with the newest technologies and so on and so forth. Why is that important right now?

Mariano: Yeah sure. So, when I first came to the field of metrology I realized that it’s a very necessary and part of manufacturing albeit a smaller part. But it’s something that is necessary because essentially it’s kind of like an investment for all products, which I’ve been very fortunate and lucky to be able to experience with so many different customers and parts for all sorts of industries. As Drew alluded to in his podcast, there’s a challenge currently I believe in productivity and education. So especially when you can standardize it through the industry’s AUKOM, which we’ll talk about, is aiming to do. This is going to help with efficiency and passing knowledge down to the next generation which was a concern. For example, in the gear industry that I was a part of when I first started with Wenzel, not enough people are going into it and those who have been in the industry for a long time are retiring, which will create a scarcity of effective knowledge. Which is what is needed to carry on the manufacturing industry. So, this is why we do programs like manufacturing day as you guys know of because even though we don’t make something per say we provide something that is a component of manufacturing.

Allan: When we had a discussion leading up to this, it was kind of a way to be able to build a general overall knowledge of what was needed to be an effective inspector, but maybe cutting out some of the tribal knowledge. That’s typically the way that a lot of manufacturing seems to be.

Drew:  We may have talked about it before but I think one of the challenges the OEMs face, particularly in the inspection in the metrology world, is we’re kind of siloed with our knowledge too. A lot of our knowledge and expertise and technique is baked into our product or our software. And so, we’re really good at training our customers how to use our equipment and our tools but, that’s only a portion of what they do every day. So being able to offer other types of training that help them become more well-rounded as members of the manufacturing environment in their plant, is a bonus for us because they become more knowledgeable customers, better educated customers, and they’re more effective workers than when they’re using our tools to support manufacturing.

Allan: Okay, right. Yeah, you know, it really helps the industry as a whole, because more people have its general knowledge, that gives them the ability to kind of duck, dodge, and weave around problems that arise on the shop floor or throughout the entire process. I’ve always been a big fan of when I have somebody working under me. instead of trying to tell them every individual thing to do, I try to help them, kind of live without a map. So, then they understand the overall concept of what you’re trying to accomplish and then they can use their expertise and their knowledge and their experience to guide towards that and be able to make decisions on the fly without having to have a meeting every time or never take care of it.

Cathy: Leading up to this. We thought well, let’s look at the industry and see what we can find, and it was a few categories at the high school and Community College level. Then this higher education program OEMs, you know. You teach your specific machines, software, and those kinds of things. Then general industry organizations like the SME, ATM, AMT, ASQ, CMSC. Those are more specific to inspection. So, you know we did a little poking around to see what was out there and AJ could probably take it from here. High School is just hand tools. They brush, they touch on some inspection to have the students understand the need for it, and it’s very basic. Not many high schools in the country actually have even a CMM, right? So, it’s a lot of hand tools. Then there are a few really exceptional high schools though that do [have a CMM], and we actually try to integrate with those and maybe offer them fixturing and do some programs with them. So, it expands their knowledge. I know AJ’s gone out to do a couple of demonstrations with some of the local ones around. For example, Platt Tech and Quinsigamond Community College. That’s obviously a community college not high school. The instructors in those programs have such a huge job in trying to create an inspector. They’re not even there to create the inspector, they’re there to give them a broad knowledge of manufacturing. To create operators at CNC machines and those kinds of things. But that’s where the money lies so the labs are built around CNC machines and those kinds of things. They don’t have the opportunity to go into any depth. We just had a recording with Lee Duedren, who is the advanced manufacturing lead at Quinsigamond Community College. And he said, “Flew to Arizona, they taught me what I know, just enough to make me dangerous basically.” Not dangerous, but you know. Then to have to repeat that and then the next semester when he has to repeat it again almost has to relearn it. So the point I’m trying to make is, it’s a huge job to teach all of the areas and I feel like that’s one of the reasons inspection in general gets dropped. It’s not a CNC machine. They’re not spitting operators to have them go right out into the industry. It just doesn’t get recognized as much as general manufacturing.

Allan: What I’ve kind have come across and what I found in most of the research that I did was that it’s the metrology in general, inspection in general is like a top-level thing to search out. It’s very scarce and few and far between as far as education goes. Most of what you find, especially when you search for things like that, is find lots of job opportunities popping up, looking for a quality control inspector, CMM inspector, CMM operators, and it comes up with different job postings. And then Google will have the degrees required pop-up. It’s in big bold letters. It’s a high school diploma or equivalent required.  All over Google all over the place with charts and graphs and just big writing everywhere. It almost paints this picture that quality control and that the job for that is not complex or doesn’t require anything special to do. It makes me believe that maybe it’s not high on the priority list of companies or in the industry. It seemed weird because what I found is that especially the University of Washington, they were training their calibration technicians by the US military for so long. And now, over the years, I think probably due to the fact that a lot of manufacturing was pushed overseas for the last generation or so, everything was kind of forgotten or left in the ditches or in the trenches if you will. A lot of the metrology becomes generally associated with calibration more so than anything. Even though metrology is used across so many fields. I mean anything where you’re measuring anything. Even in carpentry, essentially, it’s almost never mentioned, and you talk to a carpenter and say metrology and they think oh you misspelled that. It’s supposed to be meteorology. It’s like no no, Metrology is a thing. Oh, I never heard of that before. Well, you’re a carpenter. How could you not know? It was just very very very strange.

Cathy: Enlightening. Yeah, so maybe it’s part of a mechanical engineering degree program, process engineering, those kinds of things, but not laid out on its own and I don’t know if the two of you are familiar with any programs in higher education. Where they may focus on inspection.

Drew: The premier program that I have experience with in the past is, I believe it’s at UNC. They have a really strong Metrology program there. But it’s one of the few and it’s produced some very talented people in the industry and there’s a huge demand for it. It’s targeted more at the higher level, more than supporting day-to-day manufacturing operation. So, I think there’s still this gap that occurs, like you were talking about, from the high school level to maybe the Community College type support level, to the four-year degree level – where it’s not equally supported at all those levels and I think that’s where it’s incumbent upon people in the industry, like ourselves and other OEMs and other manufacturers, to try to work together to find avenues to fill that.

Allan: Alright. I think you’re talking about the center for Metrology down at University of North Carolina. And then Danville Community College also has an advanced manufacturing program there with a lights out Metrology lab they’re working on. But I like you had said, it seems almost like it’s so much higher level, that if you were to go through that: Number one, it almost seems like it’s just a small part of a still overarching degree. They have metrology part of that, which is worth a few credits to the overall engineering degree or something like that. But then number two, if you were to go through it you would come out and you would be some sort of an R&D, high-level metrologist. You know, scientist, lab coat kind of person, making crazy money working on a corporate level. Rather than getting a job as a metrology inspector inside of a machine shop right.

Drew: But we need both of those jobs, right? We need the lab coat guys to help us push the envelope of what the equipment can do and what the next level of technology is, to support growing fields like additive manufacturing. We need new metrology solutions for these new boundaries of manufacturing. So, it all works together, but I think as you were saying Allan, over the last generation, we’ve just kind of lost some of the connectivity between different variations the different levels of the education system.

Mariano: Yeah. So, this is where we come in and no matter if you’re just coming into the Metrology field or you’ve been there 20 years. We’re still able to provide knowledge that you probably haven’t seen before because, as we know, the manufacturing and inspection Metrology is constantly evolving. So Drew and I were talking about it – in most cases, the inspectors might receive a training class through the OEM for their software. Or where they might pick up some GD&T and other techniques like fixturing or proper care of the machine or something like that and they might have also taken some engineering courses where they have to read blueprints, and they had some exposure to that like CAD, but nevertheless inspection is a different animal. So, the best recourse might be to get the training directly from the people who specialize and who’ve been in the field for a long time. So, we’re able to, as we’ll talk about AUKOM provide a range of levels essential literally levels for knowledge bases that can tackle targeted. How much do you need or want to learn right that will be applicable for your quality department? No matter what.

Cathy: So I think we’ve established that we don’t you know. There’s a clear lack of inspection training in the country. Oh, I’d love to see something like this take off in the United States. We’re pretty involved locally with some groups that you know. At the end of this conversation maybe we can talk about how we might be able to create a little test bed for it here in Massachusetts. I’d love to hear more about it. I don’t know enough about it. So yeah.

Allen: Mariano you mentioned AUKOM a few times and what Wenzel can provide. So, you know, we understand that things are a little scarce as far as inspector education. So, what does Wenzel provide the industry?

Mariano: Yeah, so essentially AUKOM is a suite of courses that provides an up-to-date comparable controllable comprehensive training program that was established in Germany by bunch of companies in the Metrology sector, university professors and the PTV over in Germany who came together over a three-year research period in 98’ – 2001. They came up with this program which essentially creates a standard for inspection and metrology training. And so, this training program is a suite of courses for metrologist production, engineering, design, managers, machine operators. Anybody who is interested or has anything to do in the field of Metrology that want to enhance their skill set. This is going to essentially help them reduce costs, minimize waste, and make effective decisions in their quality departments. So, this is a program that is increasingly being recognized worldwide by companies that aim to maintain a high level of metrology practices and knowledge. So, there are companies out there, I know of big automotive OEMs, where you have to have engineers for example, level one certificate if they have to for example, just place a part on the CMM and level 2 if they have to program the part on their CMM. So, the courses are essentially the program goes perfectly for Wenzel, a maximum of thinking globally and acting locally. So, the idea that I tell in all my classes is that you want the same training. It’s exactly the same whether you’re teaching it in China, Mongolia, South Africa, Argentina, Germany, right? So, since it’s the same all throughout the world the idea is that you will get the same results whether you’re measuring your part in the United States or Germany or wherever your CMM is which is what we want to create the standard the results when you end up measuring your part. So, you don’t end up having defective things that we maybe hear about on the news all the time. Effective good parts, right? Yeah, which either cost a lot of money or are dangerous. So, you can say that you’re passing a bad part, or you have a bad part that is good and you’re ending up chasing your tail, and it ends up costing you money.

I’m here to tell all the Millennials out there that are listening – Even with the robot Revolution that is currently on going, someone still needs to tell that robot how and where to place a particular part. You still have to know what you’re making the robot do in a particular way, because of the material of the part maybe, or the importance of certain datums on that part. So, educated customers are the best customers for us and any other OEM might have limitations on what knowledge they might be able to provide. So, we take on the role of providing our customers and anybody who is doing quality inspection, what we know. So, the courses that are offered just to tell a little bit about them. It’s now AUKOM levels one, level two, level three and there’s also an AUKOM GD&T course and an AUKOM management workshop and of course for AUKOM computer tomography. So, I’m able to teach levels 1 through 3 and AUKOM GD&T at the end. So that’s the other thing that makes AUKOM great is that it’s certifiable. So, at the end you’re able to get a certificate that shows your competency, and you can carry that all the way through to another company. But if you want to take a level 2 you have got to pass level 1. If you want to take level 3 you have to pass level 2 and also take the outcome GD&T. So, this program is global. It’s actively managed. We get audited and on the regular to make sure that we’re teaching the courses correctly and it’s being administered correctly. It’s a standard essentially for the world. It’s a course work that is also essentially manufacturer agnostic. So, we don’t focus specifically on Wenzel’s product, so much so that in the level 1 course we’ve taken all the images and essentially made them wireframes because it’s not about showcasing our product. It’s about the knowledge that the students will gain from.

Cathy: I had a question. So as far as the software, is your CMM and software used to do the training or is that a generic?

Mariano: Yeah, so that’s a great question. So essentially, I like to merge the AUKOM curriculum with our standard software courses that we would use in our CMMs. So, for example our CORDIS software, what I say is a great foundation to mesh that you take the CORDIS metrology software course. Basic course perhaps and then you take AUKOM level one. Actually, you would start with AUKOM level 1 to get the foundations of Metrology. So, for example in AUKOM level one and we go through units and what is a CMM and types of algorithms things like that. So, if you haven’t seen a CMM ever before, you’re just coming from the machining department. You take AUKOM Level 1. Then you might mix it with a CORDIS basic to get started with our Metrology software. Then maybe you get some AUKOM level 2 under your belt. A little bit more GD&T. And then you become more dangerous, as you so appropriately put it, to take maybe a CORDIS Advanced and that gives you a great firm “meshing” of our program. Whether it be with us or somebody else. You still have AUKOM to back you up.

Cathy: So AUKOM, because it’s broad education industry developed, it’s available to other OEMs and to offer to their own customers.

Mariano: Yep. Exactly. And it’s worldwide. It’s the same material, like I mentioned, so it’s essentially a manual and people from all sorts of different industries will come to us. I can hold up to 12 people in a classroom and I have my PowerPoint presentation and I teach customers. The greatest thing is, if I sometimes, not that I don’t love it, but letting the customers talk and they share their experiences within themselves. So, they are able to teach themselves what they saw. So, you have two machine operators that have never seen a CMM. They’ll go “well, what’s your CMM? Like what kind of parts do you measure, now I do it this way” and I’ll say, “oh well, why are you doing it this way?” So, they’re learning from where they’re coming from. Right?

Drew: I think another important facet of it, is that because it’s agnostic in this way, it’s not about Wenzel software Wenzel CMS, and ultimately, it’s not about any level of technology in the level 1 class. So, there’s still plenty of customers out there and shops who don’t have automated CMMs yet. They don’t need them for their process. Maybe they’re in a fabrication type environment or less critical manufacturing from a tolerance standpoint. But they want to have good mathematical habits in their inspectors and good data collection habits and outcome can still build that foundation for them. So even if you don’t have the latest and greatest technology, there’s an advantage to going through this class and having your manufacturing or quality people trained in this way.

Allan: Yeah, being able to gather data and being able to look at data and understand what it says is going to automatically raise efficiency immediately, without even having to invest in anything or buy anything. Just being able to see the data and know how to read it is already going to make you better.

Drew: And you can invest in the best tools in the world and if you have poor habits of how to use them and you don’t understand why you’re using them then you’re wasting money.

Allan: Absolutely.

Mariano: This is exactly the point that we touch on – is the why. And what factor of let’s say a CMM, your environment, or your knowledge base contributes to the influences on your part. How bad it may be or how right you may be doing things. A lot of times it is the operator we find that needs to be able to apply things equally all throughout their process, or if they need to change something. It keeps them essentially checking and thinking of things like their environment, if they’re taking care, if they have the most accurate CMM in the world. They wouldn’t want your granite to go bad or anything like that, no water equal temperature, everything.

Cathy: So, doesn’t this then extend to improvements in the manufacturing process right down the pipeline, right? So, if you have a well-trained inspector uncovering issues with parts. you know that it bumps back to the operator, in the tooling, all the things that had created the part so they can uncover those things. Right? So, I feel like it’s an improvement for the entire manufacturing process.

Mariano: One hundred percent! From going from what a unit is, in level 3 to what is a statistic, if you want to gather those. So, if that’s a good use for your process, then we’ll show you how to do that.

Drew: As more as more people shift away from the traditional manufacturing quality relationship in the plant to cellular operations, where the person cutting the chips is responsible for verifying that the process is running in control. This training now comes out of quality and it just becomes good for general manufacturing.

Allan: So how does somebody get involved with this? How do they enroll in AUKOM? How do you sign up? How could I take this right now?

Mariano: Yeah, sure. So, what you can do is, go to our website, of course www.Wenzelamerica.com if you’re interested and shoot us a message there. Then you can see what we are able to offer, as I mentioned right now, we have levels 1 through 3 and GD&T. Whether you want to come to Wixom Michigan or you want us to go to your place. I’ve traveled as well. I love traveling the country. If you want some more general information for AUKOM. They have their website. AUKOM.info. And AUKOM, it’s a German word. It’s an abbreviation for House Building Coordinate Enmesh Technique. I hope I’m saying that right but it’s coordinate metrology training. So AUKOM.info will get you the materials that are covered in each topic, who the providers are and how you can take AUKOM if you need it.

Allan: Who was it that established this?

Drew: Volkswagen and Bosch were two of the big drivers on the manufacturing side. And then as Mariano said, there were University components and then companies in the metrology OEM side, like Wenzel, Zeiss, and Werth were also part of the genesis of the curriculum. It was really something that had buy-in and support from a lot of different people in the industry.

Cathy: So, I wouldn’t say that this should be at the trade school level, but maybe the initial pieces of it would be. If a high school student were interested in becoming an inspector, we could offer potentially level 1 would be appropriate for high school level. Then they could maybe transfer that up to community college level. We have pretty tight relationships between our trade schools and our local community colleges where they can enter the manufacturing program with credits depending. So, there’s a lot of agreements and a lot of programs going on that are very collaborative. So, the only thing we’d love to see at the community college level is certificates in manufacturing. This would make a great, in a nutshell, kind of a certificate program that somebody could go into Quinsigamond Community College or any college and come out with a certificate equal to an inspector with credits. And they can choose to expand on that.

Mariano: Yeah, it’s a nice feather to have in your hat. But it puts you that much more above and shows that you’ve taken the time to understand the metrology education.

Allan: So, if somebody were to get into just a complete beginner level would be able to walk into this class and even if I had no technical experience in a machine shop in my life, and I just said one day you know what? I saw a cool thing. I think I want to work in a quality-control lab and for manufacturing. I would be able to sign up and come out of there with valuable knowledge to go get a job?

Mariano: A hundred percent. I think if you have any background in engineering or math it helps. But if you have never seen a CMM ever, that level 1 is a great introduction and we cover all the topics, will help you along and give you materials to take, we have practice tests, we have the other people in the class that are all going to help you to get you ready for that test in that week. I think it’s a great program. We’ve been working with some local agencies as well to offer AUKOM for job retraining and exploring other avenues that could benefit the workforce and employers. So definitely, a great tool for people out there.

Allan: That would be good for the retreating here in Massachusetts that they have.

Cathy: They have our workplace training centers and Mass MEP and the community colleges take part in that we have a remake 4.0 grant. The state’s putting people back to work through education retraining in manufacturing. I’m trying to picture how this would plug in to a college program. How would we move that into our local community college for example?

Drew: That’s one of the challenges we’ve had up to this point with going to the next step and it’s the point we’re at in discussion with educators right now and administrators. As we educate them more on what the content is. Trying to figure out the best way to stream it into the curriculum that they already have in place that isn’t always as flexible as you could hope. Their job is to get X number of students through that curriculum, and they have a lot of challenges in the semester to make sure they’re done and they’re doing a quality job. So, adding another set of tasks can complicate things, but we’re having some good discussions about how to maybe parse the content of AUKOM into the overall semester or carve out some specific times in the semester where we can focus on these topics and get them through the AUKOM curriculum.

Cathy: Does it make sense to plug it in and have it stand alone as its own program because there are certain community colleges. They set up their entire manufacturing education program in a certificate kind of format. So, there are titles: you want to be an estimator planner, you want to be a machinist, you want to be an inspector, that kind of thing. So, I’m just wondering if it makes sense and again, I need to learn more about it to see if it could plug in as an individual standalone inspectors’ program. Someone would sign up to go through, somebody at the University or college would have to manage it, head up the training for it and be specific to that program. It might be worthwhile.

Allan: How long did you say the program was again?

Mariano: So, our level 1 through 3 courses are four days of material and a test on Friday morning. Lunch provided and then the GD&T course right now, is just a three-day course with no test. So, it’s just lecture based. Then the ones that I don’t teach, there’s a management workshop, two days and a CT – It’s also two days. But the levels 1, 2 & 3 are the main ones that have the metrology not just CMMs… Optical CMMs, form testers all sorts of stuff.

Allan:  So, to each level is four days in a test plus the test for level 1 2 3.

Mariano: Yeah, for levels 1 2 & 3.

Allen: So, you would be talking 15 days total of you were to do them all at one time.

Mariano: Yep, correct.

Allan: So, I mean yeah, that could be something that could be a good certificate program.

Cathy: Over a semester or two.

Allan: Yeah, if they were to intertwine into their manufacturing program already, but then also too if it’s even 15 days, two days a week, over a course of so long. Then that could be something that would be possible to do. It wouldn’t even have to be like during typical school hours or something like that like. Nighttime courses or something like that.

Cathy: They have a lot of that here in ours.

Allan: Yeah, that’s what Remake does yep, but that’s fantastic. That’s all the time we have for today Drew. Thank you so much for coming back and bringing Mariano in with you. Mariano, thanks so much for your time. Cathy, thank you so much for sitting in with us. And I hope you guys have a great rest of your afternoon. Thank you very much.

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