Michael Kaeding Machine Design in the Agricultural & Mining Industry

 In Being an Engineer Podcast

Michael Kaeding

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What to learn on this episode?

Want to know about how an engineer develops their products? Today we’re going to find out about how Michael Kaeding does this! 

In this episode of The being an engineer podcast, Michael Kaeding shares his journey from his first job to his current, what he learned, what he improved, and what he can share with others.

Who is Michael Kaeding?

Michael Kaeding received his Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.Sc.) focused in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan. From being a fresh graduate he is now an experienced Project Engineer working in machinery, specializing in the agricultural and mining industry. He’s skilled in 3D modelling software, such as SolidWorks, Autodesk, and Inventor. (you’ll see what I mean when you start listening). He gained a bunch of experience allowing him to provide practical, easy-to-use pieces of equipment for a variety of customers. Currently, Michael is working at Rockford Engineering Works Ltd. 

Click here to contact and learn more about Michael Kaeding.


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Presenter, Michael Kaeding, Rafael Testai, Aaron Moncur

Presenter 00:00
The being an engineer podcast is a repository for industry knowledge and a tool through which engineers learn about and connect with relevant companies, technologies, people, resources and opportunities. Enjoy the show.

Michael Kaeding 00:15
In the ag industry, cost is key. So quite often, you’d get to a point in your design where you have to step back, realize where your where your tolerances would stack up. And if it was achievable. With a looser tolerance, you’d take that approach in hopes that you could save some dollars in the end.

Rafael Testai 00:49
Hello, everyone, welcome to the being an engineer podcast, we are co host rough out the sky. Today we have Michael cating. He’s an experienced product engineer with a demonstrated history of working in the machinery industry. He is skilled in various 3d modeling software such as SolidWorks, Autodesk, and inventor. And he enjoys providing practical, easy to use pieces of equipment for a variety of customers. I know that’s vague and open ended. And we’re going to talk about that in the episode, Michael received his Bachelors of Applied Science, focus in mechanical engineering from the University of Saskatchewan check one. Can you help me pronounce that, please?

Michael Kaeding 01:25
He said Saskatchewan.

Rafael Testai 01:27
Perfect. So Michael, welcome to the podcast.

Michael Kaeding 01:30
Thanks for having me, Rafael. It’s was interesting to get the invite. And I’m looking forward to our conversation.

Rafael Testai 01:37
Yeah, tell me about the invite what was interesting about it? Oh,

Michael Kaeding 01:41
I, I guess I didn’t expect, you know, farm boy from Saskatchewan, who has his engineering degree to come on the show with the likes of some of your other past guests that have gone to MIT Apple, you know, all those very distinguished guys.

Rafael Testai 02:00
Thank you very much. I think we want to give our listeners the full range of engineers and perspective because there are other people listening who may very well related to your history, and what you work on. So let’s start out with the difference between designing for high volume in large agricultural equipment, and custom heavy duty industrial settings. You want to talk a little bit more about that?

Michael Kaeding 02:22
Yeah, absolutely. So I guess, coming out of university, I joined the agricultural company here in Regina, and did a bunch of machine design with them, ranging from conveyors green carts, greenbacks, a wide range of things. And throughout my years of experience there, I came to realize that you had to pay close attention to what was actually required. In the egg industry, cost is key. So when you were designing something that had a, say, a pin connection, or, or something of like a bolt, you had to take a step back think was a super tight tolerances required, because those super tight tolerances often lead to expensive parts, you’re into the drilling or reaming versus just using a laser cut hole that would suffice in the application. So quite often, you’d get to a point in your design where you have to step back, realize where your where your tolerances would stack up. And if it was achievable, with a looser tolerance, you’d take that approach in hopes that you could save some dollars in the end. Then switching over to my current role with Rockford engineering, we do more of a custom one of builds where the reliability is more key, and you need to focus in on I guess, also thinking to the size of equipment we develop. It’s quite large and quite heavy. So some of those sloppy connections don’t hold up over time.

Rafael Testai 04:21
We say quite large. Are you talking about maybe like a John Deere something in the field? What do you mean by large?

Michael Kaeding 04:31
I guess for the general audience if they were to look up, say a Sandvik underground scoop would be a good reference. That’s kind of the one of the larger pieces of equipment that would operate in an underground potash mine in Saskatchewan. That’s who we primarily call on for our mining equipment is local here in Saskatchewan. So the those scoops would be a large piece of equipment along with the miners themselves which are upwards to I think a four rotor. Miners about 250 ton.

Rafael Testai 05:14
Okay, I’m pulling up the specifications run out to get an idea, but it looks like to be a very large orange truck.

Michael Kaeding 05:22
Yes. Yeah, quite often it’s pretty low profile because you only have I think it’s about eight or nine feet maybe of clearance to fit through.

Rafael Testai 05:36
I see it. Okay. It’s almost like a the, what do you call it? I only know how to say in Spanish is called by the mobile, which means Batman’s vehicle basically, right? That mobile Batmobile is a we call it? Yeah, Batmobile? Yeah, yeah, like that. So it’s like low to the ground. So it’s like a big truck, very low to the ground. And it’s orange. SABIC underground scoop. That’s what I Googled. Right now, you talked about AG. Anytime we say ag industry, just for the listeners, it means agricultural industry. And this is not something that I’m very familiar with. Because here our pipeline where I work at, that’s sponsoring the podcast, we do test fixtures for medical devices. So this is way out of my field and things that I’m used to talking about. So this is all new to me. And I’m learning just as much as some of the listeners are. Well, you talked about machine design, could you tell us about what machine design is? And how do you get good at it, the more specific the advice, the better

Michael Kaeding 06:36
machine design, that is a good topic you can get, you can get quite broad, the machine operates, setting some parameters, and you can get down to the nitty gritty details of specific shafts. And what they look like. I like to consider machine design. I think there was a saying along the lines of mechanical engineers. What is it? The the design things to move? I forget, it’s it was a it was a good quote, but something along the lines of You know, we can dabble in almost anything. So you’ve got machine design, right from a bearing and a shaft all the way up to you know, a fairly complicated multi part system where you’re getting into like a full piece of mobile equipment.

Rafael Testai 07:37
Okay, what’s your specialty when it comes to machine design? And how did you come up on that specialty?

Michael Kaeding 07:42
Um, what would be my specialty? I’ve, I guess I’ve taken a key interest in, you know, shaft design, stress analysis. hydraulics, I would say those are probably my top three, what I enjoy doing. And I think that all kind of stems back to my upbringing on the farm. I mean, driving tractors and equipment like that. I was fairly exposed to it at an early age and, and spent some long days thinking about how things could be improved. On the pieces of equipment that I was running.

Rafael Testai 08:26
Did you ever get to design something that improved one of the pieces of equipment that you were contemplating as a younger adult when you were in the farm?

Michael Kaeding 08:33
Yeah, absolutely. We ran, we had a grain farm. So we had augers and grain carts and conveyors. So I was able to work on lots of those and take some of my knowledge and from from my upbringing and apply it to that situation, kind of already knowing what would and what wouldn’t work and what the end user would think of it as I was going through the design process.

Rafael Testai 09:03
So machine design is also a field that I’m in and it involves making mechanisms on CAD in software, and then bringing them to reality. You send it to a machine shop, and then you assemble it, and that the machine all works together as intended, hopefully, or you make some revisions. What was a step in your machine design career? That was that gave you a breakthrough that took you to the next level.

Michael Kaeding 09:28
I think I had one experience when I first started first started at the ICT company. I think it was one of the first jobs I was given was to model up these pieces of sheet steel and get a prototype on order. And I was fairly inexperienced using the CAD software so I modeled it up and threw in Bend lines manually and ended up that all my sheet metal parts are better backwards because I didn’t have a good appreciation for what those drawings meant to the guy that was making the equipment or making the sheet steel. That that definitely triggered something I like to try and keep, you know, the manufacturing process in mind, as I’m going through the design, you know, is a is a tool going to be able to fit in here, you always want to try and make sure that you’re designing something that’s, that’s practical for not only the end user, but the guy that has to make the part that fits in there.

Rafael Testai 10:39
So as an up and coming engineer, if we don’t want to make a mistake that’s going to cost our employer, hundreds or maybe 1000s of dollars, is there something that we can do on our way up through college to better prepare ourselves so that when we join the workforce, we don’t make mistakes that a beginner, a machine designer would make?

Michael Kaeding 11:00
Yeah, absolutely, you can, I would think my best piece of advice is just be curious, ask a pilot questions. Lean on the more experienced guys and get their feedback throughout your design process run, run every little thing past them if you can get their feedback and just get a better appreciation for how other people’s minds work and how they would change one small thing that may pay off big time in the end, as well as it saves you a bunch of rework time. You know, if you have to remodel something back down to a base part. If you can get ahead of it at the start. It’ll save you a bunch of time.

Rafael Testai 11:49
So let’s say that you’re someone that has your SolidWorks certifications, you know how to do a couple of mechanisms. And now you finally get your contributor in a company, and they assign you a task that’s machine design related. And you want to make sure that you do the best you can and make a good first impression with your employer and your teammates at this company. How can you prepare yourself for that when that moment comes? And this is advice you can give someone that already has their SolidWorks training already has the basics down? What advice would you give him?

Michael Kaeding 12:24
Probably the best advice. If you are in a company where you know, you do have an r&d division, and you’re doing prototypes and stuff like that would be to get down on the shop floor and get the feedback of the employees that are putting things together. You know, I can’t even think of the amount of times that I received great advice from the assembly line workers or the r&d techs who were putting everything together. And, you know, was fairly straightforward with me as to why I did that, because I could have done it this way, which would save them a bunch of time in the end, and was probably a better solution in the first place.

Rafael Testai 13:09
Okay, I like where this is going. So whenever you want to get that feedback from the Assembly nine or the machinists you how do you approach it because they’re busy? And you don’t want to interrupt? How do you go about basically tapping them on the shoulder and ask them, how’s that work?

Michael Kaeding 13:27
I think I’d, I would suggest, you know, just observing initially, just just watching them work, figure out what they’re doing. You know, if something doesn’t make sense, maybe make a mental note. And then if he comes to a time where they’ve got a little bit of downtime, you could step in at that point. You know, if they’re waiting for another part, or, or they’re, you know, nearing the end of their shift, you can maybe ask them, why they did what they did, is there any way that they think it could be improved. And I quite often found that they are more than willing to provide their input, in hopes that it makes their life easier in the end.

Rafael Testai 14:10
That makes a lot of sense. And if you can’t answer the following question, I understand but the advice you gave, takes into account a rather large company from the way that I understand your description, because you’re going down to where the people are building in assembling it. But what if you work in an engineering firm, where they don’t necessarily have the assembly line? They ship it out somewhere else and the assembly is elsewhere? How do you get that feedback? If you’re a machine designer?

Michael Kaeding 14:37
Yeah, that would that would fall in line with what we’re doing here at Rockford. We don’t have a huge engineering staff and we’ve got you know, half a dozen people out in the shop. But still, you could if you can’t get down to a shop, I’m sure there is more than one or two guys that would have experienced somewhere else that could offer you some input. Even just I know, I’ve looked at a couple of other people’s designs in the past and, and it’s triggered a question, and quite often has led to some pretty good in depth discussions on why they did what they did. And quite often there’s a bit of a middle ground that’s found, you know, where they can modify their existing design and come up with something that maybe they didn’t consider whether it’s a range of motion wasn’t fully analyzed, that I’ve maybe highlighted could be a potential issue, and they’ve gone back and looked at things and resulted in tweaking it and likely saved quite a bit of time and effort had that device been actually manufactured and put into the field to test

Rafael Testai 15:57
when you review somebody’s design, and you have a checklist that you follow.

Michael Kaeding 16:01
Ah, not officially, we’ve been kind of trying to work on a bit of a process of when we’re checking designs, you know, we generally tight generally try to do like a 5% 30% 60% 90%, check if we can. On some of those big jobs, that’s a little easier. Some of the smaller jobs, maybe it’s a 2575. But if we can see it multiple times, it quite often will bring up some good points that maybe weren’t considered and, and avoids that rework time afterwards.

Rafael Testai 16:44
Understood? Well, this seems like a good place for a quick pause to share with our listeners, that Team pipeline.us is where you can learn more about how we help medical devices and other product engineering or manufacturing teams develop turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines to characterize, inspect, assemble, manufacture and perform verification testing on your devices. Well, my next question was going to be continuing a little bit more about design for assembly. That was one of the topics that we wanted to discuss for today. And we touched upon it, is there anything else that you wanted to talk about when it comes to design for assembly?

Michael Kaeding 17:25
I guess one of my one of my tips and pieces of advice is always consider your tolerance stack up, been bit more than once on that issue. And it’s often an exercise that gets overlooked. But it can pay off if you at least look at a couple things, and figure out if you’re traveling down the right path, or if you’re gonna have issues right, right off the start.

Rafael Testai 17:52
So if you’re a an engineer listening to this, and maybe you’re well on your way to becoming an engineering college, and you haven’t even come across, because a lot of the classes in college are very theoretical calculus, physics, electromagnetism, and we have to take these classes, they’re part of the degree, but we may never have come across the term tolerance stack up yet. And we don’t know how to get training on it. So what should we look up online to get some good training so we can not make Tommy stuck up mistakes?

Michael Kaeding 18:28
That’s a good question. I’m sure there’s various YouTube videos out there. I know. I’ve gained a lot of insight and knowledge from listening to podcasts. Yeah, I mean, the internet is an endless amount of available information for you. I would also suggest if you’re going through university to try and seek out some of the internships that local engineering firms I know, in our giant area, there’s quite a few engineering firms or companies that would provide, you know, summer employment, which would offer great opportunities to gain experience on some of these issues.

Rafael Testai 19:17
Perfect. Well, we’re nearing towards the end of the podcast and I want to talk about you have your certification in engineering the P, and you got it in Canada. And I was wondering if you could maybe walk us through the steps in how you achieved your PE license?

Michael Kaeding 19:35
Yeah, for sure. Canada, I think has a fairly streamlined approach. All the universities here, or major universities in Canada, generally are accredited by the I think it’s the Canadian engineering board. I don’t quote me on the actual title. I could get that for you, if needed, but basically all the universities are accredited, which ultimately saves you from having to write a competency, yeah saves you from having to write a competency test. So once you graduate university, you out into the workforce work under a professional engineer for four years, gain a bunch of experience. I know when I was going through it, Saskatchewan has changed just recently here to a bit of a different reporting style. But when I was going through, you had to write for reports on various engineering tasks that you completed throughout your years. And that ultimately was submitted to the Association of Professional Engineers and geoscientists of Saskatchewan. They had a group set up there that would review all these experience reports, and they would either approve or ask you to elaborate on things before they approve them. And then once you had your four reports approved, you also had to take a law and ethics exam. There was a one or two day course followed up by an exam later on that you had to write and receive a passing grade. And then once you had the exam and all your experience reports covered, they issued you your professional engineering certification. Okay,

Rafael Testai 21:37
so professional engineering certification versus p license, is that different?

Michael Kaeding 21:43
I believe so. I think the PE designation is out of the states. I know when I did the law and ethics, there was a couple people that had come up from the States. So I it’s not fully transferable. However, the the professional engineer in Canada is fairly transferable between the provinces in Canada, you just have to apply. And each province will reach out to their home governing body and make sure you’re in good standing with them. And then it’s a matter of gaining the ability to sign off and drawings outside of your home province.

Rafael Testai 22:27
Understood Well, congratulations on your PE certification. And I wanted to ask you there’s something else that I shouldn’t that I should have asked you. But I haven’t asked you yet.

Michael Kaeding 22:39
Does it count with how cold the Saskatchewan winters are? Are they very cold? Yes, yes. They’re very cold. To the point where your car doesn’t agree with you some mornings? I think that’s that’s one point on the temperature scale where we can we can find a common ground. Is that minus 40 degrees.

Rafael Testai 23:04
Freezing case. Well, how can people find you?

Michael Kaeding 23:09
I’m fairly active on LinkedIn. So you can search me there, Michael Kaeding. You can also send me an email, which is mkaeding@Rockfordworks.com.

Rafael Testai 23:23
Wonderful. Well, Michael, thank you so much for joining the podcast.

Michael Kaeding 23:26
It’s been a privilege.

Aaron Moncur 23:31
I’m Aaron Moncur, founder of pipeline design and engineering. If you liked what you heard today, please share the episode. To learn how your team can leverage our team’s expertise developing turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines and with product design, visit us at Team pipeline.us. Thanks for listening.

Rafael Testai 24:04
Do your value listener We kindly ask that you help us get to 105 Star podcast reviews in their platform of your choice. For a chance to win a $50 amazon gift card send a screenshot of your five star podcast review to podcast at Team pipeline that us you’ll find that email address in the description of the show notes

About Being An Engineer

The Being An Engineer podcast is brought to you by Pipeline Design & Engineering. Pipeline partners with medical & other device engineering teams who need turnkey equipment such as cycle test machines, custom test fixtures, automation equipment, assembly jigs, inspection stations and more. You can find us on the web at www.teampipeline.us


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