Day in the life of
Mechanical Engineer – Mike Reinalda
I have two functions. As the support engineer, I start my day answering all emails we receive from our customers. It can take me up to 2 hours, depending on how many emails we receive. Throughout the day, if a customer calls, I’m available to assist them as well. When I’m not doing that, I work as a mechanical engineer in the Research and Development (R&D) Team, working on current projects.
With our current project, most of my time is spent on Solid Works, creating 3D drawings. With this, we can get an overview of the project, figure out which parts we need, and then after, whether we can either make it in-house at our workshop or outsource it.
Once we have all the parts ready, we can then assemble, test, and see if everything fits the way we hoped. If not, we go straight back to the drawing board until we get a product that works, and from there, we send it over to production.
When we start a new project, there are specific steps we take:
- Check what’s on the market. Do we have competitors who have something similar to what we want to create?
- Look at client feedback. This is especially the case if we want to create a second generation of a machine. We want to take the time to talk with our clients and see what they thought of the first generation; that way, we know what we can start working on and improving.
- Create a list through brainstorming on what the machine should do and from there generate specs.
- Start building (from hand sketches, digital, and then physically building it).
What are your key responsibilities?
On the service side, I ensure that I can assist the client to the best of my ability and help solve their issues. As part of the R&D team, my main priority is keeping customers safe when using our machines and happy. Customers are paying money for a good quality machine, so I have to make sure that they’re getting that quality when the product arrives.
Quality is something we always keep in mind in all the jobs we do here; this goes from the quality help and service the customers receive to our products.
Every day is a different day. There are a lot of steps, from hand sketches to even designing the packaging material. Sometimes we have days sitting behind the computer, but then we have our testing days to experiment and make sure the product is working up to par with what we need it to do. It’s a huge positive for me that there are so many things to do within technical engineering; you can get creative with executing tasks and creating solutions.
The team we have in the office helps a lot, from the departments I work closely with to the financial and commercial departments. There’s a great team dynamic present at the office.
Because we (R&D) design the products, it can be frustrating when production finds that the product isn’t assembling as it should. So while the designing part is fun and exciting, it can also take a long time. While we may design products to work, it doesn’t always mean that they will work once the production team has all the parts in front of them and have to start assembling.
Keep trying things. You can spend so many hours behind Solid Works creating drawings, only to find out hours later that it didn’t work. It’s better to experiment as you go along, even if you have to try out unconventional methods or tools. It’s during these experiments that you’ll figure out right away whether or not something will work. Try not to let your ego get the better of you, sometimes solutions will be much simpler than you thought, and it’s not worth having to keep pushing forward something you were working on for the sole reason that you spent a lot of time on it.
perform engineering duties in planning and designing tools, engines, machines, and other mechanically functioning equipment. Oversee installation, operation, maintenance, and repair of equipment such as centralized heat, gas, water, and steam systems.