2021 Engineering Leader Under 40: Robert Harman, 38
Senior Control System Engineer/Project Engineer, Plus Group, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States, BS Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Ohio State
Robert Harman, 38
Senior Control System Engineer/Project Engineer
Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
BS Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Ohio State
Why should this person be recognized for this award?
Plus Group has nominated Robert as a talented young professional for the 40 Under 40 award for his exceptional engineering experience, including MES systems, system integration, and factory floor automation across the Chemical, Life Science, Food & Beverage, and Consumer Product Industries. With over 15 years of experience, Robert has successfully executed projects from design through programming, commissioning, and startup, always striving to save Plus Group customers time and money wherever possible. Robert is a highly analytical problem solver with a team-first attitude who executes multiple leadership roles to complete projects ahead of schedule with high product quality
Achievements, Advancement & Career-related Industry Contributions
Robert led a team to develop and deploy a customized EMS for a Fortune 500 cosmetics company. The solution used (74) flow meters, tracked the department’s overall water usage, monitored over 20 batch skids, and collected statistical data for every CIP/SIP that was executed within the facility. This identified worst use offenders and reduced the client’s overall water consumption. The scale and complexity of the project was a major contributor toward Automation Plus being named Control Engineering‘s “2018 System Integrator of the Year.” Robert is experienced in data collection and analytics – he helped design Automation Plus’ Metrix365, a data collection platform written in .NET Core. It operates within the ISA95 security model and features agnostic edge agents, KPI analytics, and integrations to enterprise ERP/MES systems. Robert has executed many automation projects within processing, packaging, and IT. Examples include migrating a plant to Windows 10, which required upgrading (~60) legacy HMIs into one distributed application running on Rockwell Automation Thin Manager developed complex valve bank solutions managing (~40) mix-proof valves with strict hygiene requirements per pathway and has developed Supervisory Line Control solutions that have been adopted as standard and serves as the template for future packaging line expansions.
Non-work-related Activities & Hobbies
Robert is interested in bringing enterprise software principles into the automation space. His interest in system architectures, design patterns, mocking frameworks, and test-driven development has prompted Robert to develop analogous patterns for PLC code. Robert maintains his own open-source project/code repository, where he freely distributes PLC code in the form of reusable AOI’s. His repositories range from basic control modules, unit testing frameworks to 1st and 2nd order dynamic simulators. Robert supports the open-source movement and sees enormous long-term benefits for the industry by promoting openness, transparency, and free collaboration.
- Robert and his wife are trained and licensed foster parents. Robert’s oldest son, Demario, came to live with his family at the age of (3) through a foster care program. Demario was legally adopted by Robert and his wife a year and a half later.
- Robert lives in Cincinnati with his wife Elizabeth and three children: Demario (7), Leo (6), and Olivia (3). Robert believes strongly in mentoring and encouraging younger generations. He volunteers by coaching youth sports and tutoring children in STEM ranging from 5th-grade math to college chemistry courses at the University of Cincinnati.
Why did they choose this career?
Growing up, Robert excelled in STEM. He enjoyed creative outlets like drawing and puzzles that require outside-the-box thinking. Automation offers a great mix of both. The systems we design can be dangerous and must perform at a high level to consistently produce high-quality products, demanding engineering rigor. There are always new technologies coming to market, appealing to his creative side – there are always new puzzle pieces being dropped on the table to experiment with. Finding new and creative ways to put pieces together to generate something rigid and exact is a fun and exciting challenge.