Dr Harry Harris, PhD, MEngSc, BE, Retired Associate Professor (USQ)

Biosystems Engineering is a first class engineering consultancy. It is headed by Richard Sulman, who is an excellent and accomplished engineer with a wide range of practical experience, and a deep appreciation of engineering principles.

I am a retired Associate Professor, who taught the Agricultural Machinery program in the Faculty of Engineering and Surveying at the University of Southern Queensland for a period of eighteen years. I was involved in research work throughout that time, primarily in the cane industry, and received substantial funding for work on machinery related issues.

I have known Richard for fifteen years, firstly as a student of mine at the University, and then as a much valued colleague over the last six years during my retirement, as we worked together on two industry-funded projects researching and assessing the design of a novel chipper for use in a mallee tree harvester. Richard's involvement in these projects and his major contributions to their success are evidence of his superior design skills, his understanding of and capacity for workshops skills and practical matters, his deep understanding of complex data acquisition systems and computer software and hardware, his ability to organise and undertake a complete laboratory investigation, and his capacity for organising and carrying out extended field trials and maintaining effective liaison with colleagues in Western Australia. His background on the family farm, then his work as a tradesman, engineering student and field engineer has given him an experience and understanding of machinery related matters that is deep and well-founded in both theory and practice.

The experimental and field chippers that Biosystems Engineering designed, and the associated instrumentation, experimental procedures and data acquisition systems operated by Biosystems Engineering, provided data that were detailed and robust, which provided valuable insights into the chip-by-chip operation of a chipper and its feed system. The quality of the data measured in these projects enabled us to demonstrate that it is possible to design a very efficient chipper that will enable the design of a realistic harvester.

Apart from work on these projects, Richard and I have consulted as colleagues on cases where we have been nominated as expert witnesses, which have involved using forensic engineering techniques to investigate machinery failures that have become the subject of litigation. While I have been primarily limited to assessing the related documentation, Richard has taken these forensic engineering techniques to a new level, developing methods for in-field measurement of forces, displacements, temperatures, speeds and other variables that can be used to analyse the cause of failures. All of this work requires a deep theoretical understanding and a capacity for detailed and careful consideration of evidence and opinion, and Richard has an excellent engineering sense of when something seemingly obscure is actually significant.

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