. . . and Taking CAM Solutions to New Heights
QTE Manufacturing Solutions, an engineering design firm and Mastercam® CAD/CAM software reseller, teamed up with one of its manufacturing customers and a major aerospace OEM to complete an interesting assignment for NASA. The objective was to design a specialized test setup that will allow NASA engineers to evaluate the performance of a coupling used to connect a US space ship to the International Space Station… at zero gravity.
QTE president Jeff Quinn said “We were tasked with designing a counter-balanced “zero gravity” tool that would allow NASA team members to practice bringing in a coupler and connecting it in an air tight fashion. Our team was totally up for this challenge. After we designed it, one of our Mastercam customers took our design, manufactured it and sent it down to NASA.”
“Then we flew down to NASA Houston to train their engineers and showed them how to use the equipment we designed. We also did TUI (Tool Usage Instructions). They loved it. The tooling worked great and for us it was a cool thing, getting to build something for the international space station.”’
Back on Earth
Devising unique tool solutions is a real high for Jeff and his team at QTE. That is why the company still engages in this work. It would be hard to give up on something you enjoy and that you are really good at. Back on earth, however, QTE Manufacturing Solutions’ main line of business is something equally impressive and important, helping manufacturing customers improve quality, productivity and profitability with Mastercam CAD/CAM software as well as dimensional metrology and other manufacturing software product lines.
Mike Quinn, Jeff’s brother, started the company in October of 1985 after working as a tool designer in an aircraft manufacturing plant for 16 years and then taking over as manager of a design job shop. “But they didn’t want to get into CNC equipment and computers, so I decided to start my own shop,” Mike said. Jeff joined him six months later, leaving his product design position at a large RTA furniture manufacturer .
The brothers were very adept at using computers and design software. A couple CAD software vendors took notice of this proficiency and engaged QTE to sell their products. QTE Manufacturing Solutions became a Mastercam reseller in 1990 and has been growing that side of the business ever since.
Sam Durbin, who was General Manager of Hoffman Tool & Die, became QTE’s first Mastercam customer. “Back then,” said Durbin, “tool and die shops did not have CNC. You made electrodes on turntables. CNC equipment was thought to be only for production shops. We just wanted to be a tough competitor and good supplier for our customers. If it weren’t for people supporting us like the guys at QTE, we wouldn’t have been able to make the transition to CNC on our own. So that’s why I relied on these guys.” Subsequently Durbin went on to manage manufacturing operations at a major automotive manufacturing plant. QTE and Mastercam became the CAM services provider and software of choice and they still are to this day.
97% Retention and 0% Spindle Uptime
Jeff and his staff believe that it is not enough to sell good CAM software tools, you also need to make sure your customers can use them to their best advantage. That is why QTE Manufacturing Solutions leads Mastercam resellers for many years with a 97% Mastercam maintenance license retention rate.
He said, “This is a teaching business. I just love showing people technology and how you can do this. That is the fun part of it.” He recounted a particularly gratifying recent experience when a QTE AE spent a week at a customer’s plant doing Mastercam training and process improvement with programmer/operators. The quality and productivity improvements resulting from that week of training were so substantial that the customer has reserved that AE’s time to do a week of training for his staff every quarter.
QTE has been such a good teacher that one of its customers, Kluba Machine, has attained a productivity metric of 62% spindle uptime. That is something practically unheard of for a production shop, let alone a job shop like Kluba.
QTE has its own extreme spindle uptime metric — 0%. The company has two vertical CNC Mills out in the back. They are used by hobbyists in the company or occasionally to prove out a design concept. QTE, however, never builds its own designs. Jeff said there has been about 30 occasions when QTE has been able to assign the build portion of a design project to one of its Mastercam customers. That has lead to some great partnering experiences — like defying gravity at NASA Houston.
Today QTE Manufacturing Solutions provides CAD/CAM products, training, support and Design Contract Services to manufacturers throughout the Midwest. The company has hundreds of customers that are using Mastercam, Verisurf and other world class CAD/CAM solutions it provides to obtain competitive advantages in their manufacturing operations.