WIXOM, MICH. — Type the name Wenzel America Ltd. into the popular Google search engine, and you're given an option to click on a virtual tour.
The tour, similar to a "streetview" map from Google, stitches together 30 individual photos taken inside Wenzel's new showroom and North American headquarters in the Detroit suburb of Wixom, allowing Internet users to look at various measuring machines, a new industrial CT scanner, the training room and other sites within the facility.
It is all part of an effort by Wenzel Group GmbH & Co. KG of Wiesthal, Germany, to connect more closely with a growing North American customer base.
"We've been in North America for 15 years, but we were really small at first," said Heike Wenzel-Däfler, president and CEO of Wenzel Group, during an April 11 open house at the North American operation.
Wenzel had tried out other possible locations for its North American base for short periods, but the Wixom building has the space and convenience the company wanted, she said. It allows Wenzel to show off all of its machines in one spot, provide training for its customers, assemble new coordinate measuring machines and refurbish older ones, said Andy Woodward, president of Wenzel America.
The facility has measuring equipment for a variety of industries, used to develop new components and test current production parts. High-quality measurement capabilities are increasingly needed in a manufacturing age in which most parts go directly from digital files to production.
Wenzel's new industrial CT scanner operates much like a medical scanner, allowing molders to measure very small, intricate parts for micromolding, or see inside complete assemblies.
Giles Gaskell, application manager, showed how the machine can scan something like an electronic key fob, then be used to examine the external plastic housing as well as the internal circuit board, battery, copper wiring and individual connectors — without disassembling the entire part.
Many of Wenzel's customers also have used the machine to track down minute flaws that could affect a final package. A toothpaste cap may only cost a penny, Woodward noted, but a consumer who buys a tube of toothpaste that leaks is likely to stop buying that same brand in the future.
"Sometimes the parts may seem cheap, but the consequences of not getting it right are very expensive," he said.