Profile - QTE Manufacturing Solutions

by Scott Knoche, Verisurf Reseller Sales Manager 

QTE Manufacturing Solutions, based in the metropolitan St. Louis area, has provided CAD/CAM products, training, support, and design contract services to Midwest manufacturers since 1985.  Besides being the Mastercam reseller for several states in the region, the company has been providing sales, training and consulting services for Verisurf software for more than a dozen years and has been the product’s number 1 or near top reseller for many of those years.  When asked what led QTE to bring Verisurf onboard as one of their product lines, Sales Manager Jeff Kleinheider said, “I was offering my own reverse engineering (RE) software product which was not selling very well at that time.  This was before high-volume, non-contact scanners were widely available.  Then I found Verisurf already had a solution for probing RE, and not only that, it was integrated with Mastercam, our main product line.  So, signing up was a no-brainer.”  He could see that the inspection, reverse engineering and tool building solutions from Verisurf would offer customers a complementary solution to their CAM product, thanks to the natural workflow it has with Mastercam.

As their experience and therefore comfort level with Verisurf matured, QTE realized that their Mastercam/CNC customers have needs that put them on the same food chain as their QC inspection counterparts, and it takes the cohesive success of both segments of the enterprise to feed profits at the end of the day.  “While many plant managers see their CNC departments as profit centers, they often see their Quality Control departments as cost centers” said Kleinheider.  “But when they realize that their parts don’t make it from the CNC department to the shipping dock without going through inspection, and common bottlenecks there are gumming up the works preventing them from getting paid, then they are interested in a solution.”  Verisurf can often be that answer to such leaking profits.

QTE determined that if they are going to make Verisurf part of their product mix, better to make it fully visible on QTE’s customer-facing presence… including their website, business cards, eMarketing newsletters, at trade shows, etc., and even the marquis out front of their headquarters offices.  They realized that if they wanted their current customers and new prospects to take notice, it would be more likely if they featured the product front-and-center, rather than less visible under a sub-tier placement on their website and other marketing platforms.  To further draw attention, QTE regularly holds seminars focusing on Verisurf and their training and consultation surrounding it.  In the seminars they emphasize 3D model-based inspection and GD&T, something about which many companies are anxious to learn more.  Further opening many kinds of networking opportunities, QTE holds events with OEM partners of 3D metrology equipment such as Faro, Hexagon and API.  Like the Mastercam CNC having partnerships with machine tool OEMs, it builds relationships that produce countless referrals and a synergy of teamwork that makes the time invested worthwhile.

To understand more about the history and relationship between QTE and Verisurf Software, the “3D Measurement Solutions” company, we asked Jeff Kleinheider some more questions:   Jeff, to what types of manufacturers do you focus on as prospects for Verisurf?  “A big hitter is aerospace, especially when they are required to use the CAD model for inspection.”  When recognizing you have such an opportunity, with what personnel would you begin to explore the needs for those requirements?  “Typically, through the programming department.  Find out if they have pains processing new jobs, for example.  It’s typical to struggle when getting into model-based inspection and especially if their parts have profile tolerance, datum alignment, or 3D GD&T (geometric dimensioning and tolerance) callouts.  FAI (first article inspection) is an absolute requirement for the aerospace industry.  Those new to FAI will find it easier with Verisurf and QTE’s expertise in consulting, training, and supporting the software as well as the hardware involved.  Either through the resale of 3D metrology hardware that Verisurf offers or via partnering with the OEMs, QTE provides the complete solution.  Anytime they are hit with new or complex requirements, they work closely with Verisurf Software personnel ready to help them with any challenge.

“It’s typical to find a backlog of parts in the inspection department,” Jeff said.  “While the CNC department does not see quality-inspection as their area of responsibility, and the inspection department has been charged with using the tools they already have, the plant manager knows he cannot provide production output until the parts ship, and company management realizes they will not be paid until the parts are gone.  We have often proven to customers that they can eliminate the backup with Verisurf and portable 3D measurement systems such as portable CMMs (coordinate measuring machines),” he added.  Jeff says this typically shows them a solution that is much faster than a programmable CMM.  But nowadays when tolerances are super-tight, QTE can also consult and provide Verisurf solutions for their stationery, programmable CMMs.  Customers can, therefore, program both their CNC machines and CMMs using one software, the Mastercam-Verisurf integrated platform.  QTE’s Wichita sales and technical expert, Eric Eicher, has taken to Verisurf’s programming capabilities (Automate and AutoInspect) from his time running the software at one of QTE’s customers.  Since coming onboard at QTE, he has had great success consulting customers on programming in Verisurf even for manual devices.  The programs created in Verisurf Automate can be run as quick and productive user-prompted inspection routines.  This provides both productivity and improved process control, something that is sure to please any company’s customers.

Kleinheider also mentions the added in-process checks that Verisurf systems give customers on the production floor.  This is often a new capability that helps them troubleshoot and refine their manufacturing processes and to remove doubts and arguments about where there is a breakdown or inconsistency.  Is the problem the part, the design (drawings or CAD model), tooling, or something else in the process?  When it comes to the dimensional aspects of the part, the culprit can be more readily identified and corrected.  Jeff said another conversation starter is when they see a portable CMM (PCMM) arm such as a Faro or Romer arm in the customer’s plant.  Chances are if they bought another software such as the OEM’s own platform, QTE can show them a better, faster solution with Verisurf.  When it comes to the product’s target market, they have seen lots of success well beyond aerospace into mold shops, automotive, consumer products, even at a major dog food company to name a few. 

Jeff was asked what might be their first step when they uncover possible Verisurf interest at a customer.  He replied, “I might take them to a computer and to the website or YouTube to watch one of the videos to start the conversation.  The videos give them something they can take to their boss to move things up to the next level.  And when the prospect says ‘Is it really that easy?’ they invite them to the next QTE-Verisurf seminar or arrange a demo where they will inspect one of their parts and prove it to them.”  When they balk at spending money on an inspection system, Jeff asks them, “How much does it cost to ship a pallet of bad parts?”  And “What does it cost you to lose a customer to whom you shipped a pallet of bad parts?”

Next, we asked how the all-important annual maintenance retention was for their Verisurf licenses.  Jeff replied, “Just shy of our Mastercam retention.”  Which is always in the top 3 of worldwide Mastercam resellers.  How are you that successful with Verisurf maintenance?  “Regular communication, seminars, newsletters, etc.  Also, our CRM reminds us 4 months before maintenance is due to contact the customer if we have not already communicated through the normal course of business.  We do Verisurf-specific ‘What’s New’ events to remove the fear of new releases and upgrades.”  Is doing Verisurf training a big part of the sale and ongoing business?  “All of our software sales have a plan of success and selling software without training is a bad idea.  It’s very important.”  Jeff, how does Verisurf fit with Mastercam and other products that you sell?  “Verisurf fits very well.  Again, Mastercam is driving profit centers which are key.  Providing Verisurf to help with a backlog can help customers keep the dollars rolling enough to consider the investment.  Since it helps to optimize machine utilization, it is an easier sell.  We have a customer that has around 11,000 parts programmed for inspection in Verisurf, so for them it is easy to see how it is more of a profit center.”

When Jeff was asked, “Would you recommend that resellers from other regions include Verisurf as part of their principal product lines?”   “Absolutely, yes,” he replied.

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