Jeff Ross, Process Engineering Manager, Harris GroupJeff Ross, Process Engineering Manager
Within the chemical processing industry, engineering teams often deal with complex manufacturing processes to design, build, and commission projects in order to bring new products to market quickly. This, of course, requires a complex blend of chemistry, science, engineering, construction, and project management to get the job done—all of which present multi-faceted challenges to the process and project team as a whole. For example, an organization’s in-house team might lack the bandwidth to develop the level of detail necessary in the time allotted for tasks such as preliminary engineering, equipment sizing and selection, document control and management, or commissioning planning and execution. These are all vital components of a project, and each necessitates a significant commitment of attention, detail, and hours. In such scenarios, having a trusted partner to oversee the entire project can help businesses in the chemical processing industry manage their projects effectively and efficiently—from start to finish.

This is a promise Seattle-based Harris Group has been fulfilling over the last four decades. Established in 1975, Harris Group is a multidiscipline engineering firm with broad capabilities supporting businesses across various industries, including chemical processing, aerospace, energy, renewable fuels, and life sciences. Embracing modern technologies and valuing traditional excellence, the company provides clients with engineering services from concept through completion, including integrating process technologies, technology assessment, process conceptualization and development, automation solutions, detailed design and construction, and startup and commissioning support. Harris Group’s dedicated team of engineers, designers, project managers, and business specialists bring the technical and industry expertise and proficiency of a large firm and the focus and attention of a small business. “By positioning ourselves as an extension of our clients, we forge solutions to their technological challenges while also ensuring that capital projects are integrated seamlessly into an operating facility,” says Jeff Ross, process engineering manager of Harris Group.

A prominent service of Harris Group is its consulting and feasibility studies. “Most often, clients come to us not knowing the solution to their problem, and we conduct feasibility studies looking at various possible options, costs, and benefits, and then make a decision on the right path forward,” explains Ross. Harris Group takes a holistic approach with each project; this includes gaining a deep understanding of the clients’ key priorities, presenting different concepts, and jointly determining the optimal choice based on the client’s needs and specific project. Once the conceptual design has been finalized, the team works to finalize the scope of the project. As the detailed design of the overall project progresses, Harris Group’s process engineers ensure that mechanical, electrical, structural, and automation designs are all aligned with the design intent of the project. The firm also provides commissioning and startup support to ensure a smooth transition from construction to commercial operations. Automation and process control are critical to chemical and process facilities for ensuring quality and efficiency.
To that end, Harris Group provides complete automation, controls, and data acquisition from the plant floor to the corporate office, consequently improving productivity and cost-effectiveness.

By positioning ourselves as an extension of our clients, we forge solutions to their technological challenges while also ensuring that capital projects are integrated seamlessly into an operating facility

Talking about the client onboarding process, Ross mentions that the engagement begins with Harris Group discussing the client’s needs and understanding their pain points. Most clients reach out in two main situations: Firstly, when they identify an issue or area of improvement but lack the knowledge or resources to proceed with the goal. Secondly, when they are unsatisfied with their current service providers being rigid with their standards/procedures and fail to meet the needs. Harris Group makes it a priority to have an upfront discussion with the client about their specific needs, overall goals in terms of existing facilities, and limitations before starting each project in order to align themselves with the client’s idea and scope of work. Besides, the firm also provides periodic reviews and documentation services to ensure that they are on the same page with the client. “We take pride in offering trust and certainty that the processes will deliver at industrial scale and meet our clients’ goals,” states Ross.

Highlighting the effectiveness of Harris Group’s services is its success story with a client that wanted to increase the capacity of one of their processes at a site. “However, they didn’t know the project cost. They needed to finalize their project concept in order to get the required funding from their leadership,” mentions Ross. Harris Group conducted a feasibility study looking at different options in terms of equipment lineups to determine the number of new equipment they needed to double the capacity of their processes. The team also guided the client during the detailed design, engineering, and implementation phases. “It’s an ongoing project, and so we continue to conduct weekly meetings with the client. Construction is in progress and we are looking to commission the project very soon,” states Ross.

Harris Group’s emphasis on client satisfaction has helped the company create a name for itself across diverse industries and continues to play a critical role in attracting over 90 percent of work from existing clients. The firm has always focused on forging long-term relationships with its clients; its experienced team is dedicated to ensuring that the client’s project experience is of the highest quality. As the next step, Harris Group plans to expand its geographical footprint across its client’s locations. “Our mission is to become a trusted advisor for our clients. To that end, we will continue to collaborate with them to offer innovative solutions and provide value over and above what is called for in the contract every time,” concludes Ross.