Sussi Birkevang designs machines that do not yet exist
Meet Sussi Birkevang, a mechanical design and development engineer at ODIN Engineering. She develops unique designs for machines and components and loves her work. For although it can be hectic at times, there is always room to be creative and think outside the box.
Sussi Birkevang is a mechanical design and development engineer at ODIN Engineering. She is a qualified engineer in integrated design and worked for two other machine manufacturers before arriving at ODIN three years ago.
Together with the rest of the team, Sussi designs and constructs special business-critical machines. Her role is to first draft drawings for prototypes and components and then construct the final solution and design for production. Once Sussi has created her design, she forwards it to her colleagues in charge of production and assembly. They give her feedback in the form of ideas, questions, and corrections, and she responds with her own feedback and an updated design. In this way, everyone contributes to developing the machine.
“I sit with my own little team, and somewhere else there are, for example, an industrial technician, a production planner and an operator, but in reality, we’re one big group. Everyone contributes throughout the entire process: From the instant the first lines are drawn to when the materials are purchased, and a unique special machine is ready for delivery to the customer,” says Sussi, adding:
“We never get a detailed description of a machine that we should build. We get a problem that we have to resolve. So, we put ourselves in the customer’s situation with regard to what is needed and develop a solution from the bottom up. This is why it is crucial that we have so many experienced and skilled members of staff who can bounce ideas off each other.”
A deep interest in machines and technology is a must
Although the pressure is intense at ODIN Engineering and things can be hectic at times, Sussi loves her work. This is because her daily routine is challenging in a fun way. In her view, you cannot really be at a place like ODIN without having a greater than normal interest in gadgets and technology.
“We’re really nerdy in our field, so it comes naturally to us to commit ourselves to this work. At school I had a class which was called: ‘separate the trash and collect it again’. It somehow sums up very well the interest in mechanics that we all have.”
Sussi also explains that rarely are two days the same at ODIN, and no two tasks are ever the same. It makes the work varied, and she values being in a creative playground every day, where no suggestion is shot down in flames as stupid. If someone has an idea that is unconventional, then it is seized on by the others:
“We have an approach that we call ‘THE ODIN WAY’. But in actual fact, this characterisation also admits the possibility that there is no hard and fast way to go. There is freedom to try all conceivable solutions to provide the customer with the best possible help, and I would say that we’re expected to think outside the box.”
ODIN Engineering is a machine factory with room for women
Sussi is one of the few women at ODIN Engineering. In her view, this is due to the fact that it is primarily men who are interested in mechanical design and construction. She remembers that during her time spent studying and training, the sexes were evenly balanced, but the women subsequently became project managers in production companies. However, it is not something she thinks about very much in her daily work:
“Before I arrived at ODIN, I did come across older engineers who thought that I was an assistant. And now and then I do encounter people who can’t understand that a woman can work on mechanical and technical matters to a high level, but then I just ask them what century they think they are living in. Of course, women can do these things.”
Sussi is 39 years old. She lives in Slagelse, and when not at work she loves being in the garden tending plants and flowers, together with her partner Claus and dog Morgan. Here she has plenty of opportunities to give her creativity free rein. Recently, for instance, she made several very big flowerboxes which she had designed on ODIN’s laser cutter.