Case Studies

Precision Systems Engineering

In-house expertise to serve heavy industry worldwide

Based in Sandy, Utah, Precision Systems Engineering (PSE) has been providing a strong suite of engineering services for industrial clients for 25 years. Founded with a strong team including Brent Maxwell, current president, the business incorporates in-house expertise and strikes a balance between personalized services and broad capabilities.Precision Systems Engineering

“We are large enough to handle good-sized jobs,” says Maxwell. “But we are small enough to be nimble. What sets us apart is being full service; we handle whatever our clients throw at us.”

With approximately 75 employees, PSE operates within the mining and minerals processing, oil and gas, and heavy manufacturing industries. “We have process engineers, project engineers, civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, controls, process controls and instrumentation and even a UL508 panel shop in-house — and each discipline also has a strong design team,” Maxwell explains. His team has performed diverse projects all over the world, including South America, Asia, the Middle East and Canada, though most of PSE’s work is concentrated in the Western U.S.

In-house resources

From an industry perspective, PSE’s ability to serve mining and minerals processing, oil and gas, and heavy manufacturing sets it apart. “Many of the company’s competitors focus on one particular area,” Maxwell explains. “We feel that our diversity allows us to spread our wings wider, making a much more stable environment for us.”

Maxwell notes that the firm’s greatest resource is its people. “At the end of the day, as an engineering company, it all boils down to the people we have,” he adds. “We have fantastic people — both in engineering and our client service managers. These are the people out visiting with our clients and while many companies refer to them as the sales staff, they’re there to provide service. Our people do an excellent job of trying to meet needs of our clients and that’s how you get repeat business, based on the quality of relationships that are created, built and maintained.”

Technology is another important component of the company’s success. “We do all the CAD drawings with specialized CAD designers,” notes Maxwell. “One of the key factors is we’re doing a lot of the solid modeling from the perspective of flow and SEA analysis and finite element analysis. We can take a 3-D model, apply stresses to it — either seismic conditions or electrical or mechanical loads — and the model can then be rotated to allow us to see where stresses apply, whether the design is meeting minimum requirements or needs to be stiffened up to solidify a model with high risk of fracturing. It also allows us to detect possible interferences. That’s all done digitally.”

Complex design work

Around the U.S., PSE is tackling a number of complex industrial projects. Recent work includes a large project for a natural gas storage facility. “We started this with very basic engineering support for structural and soon we were asked to apply our expertise in other disciplines to support the project, including mechanical, piping, controls, and electrical services for that facility,” says Roger Rich, the firm’s chief operations officer. “This was a challenging project from the perspective of working with clients and contractors, as a parallel development path was instigated. Getting around that challenge was 90 percent communication, which is probably one of our best strengths. We have excellent project managers who understand the criticality of involving all parties at the right time.”

Another challenging undertaking has been the development of a ready-to-construct-and-operate oil shale facility, designed with energy performance at the forefront. “With oil pricing where it is, we completed the project but the customer will probably not realize the same profit margins intended,” Rich notes. “The company we worked for is struggling to get what they were hoping for, but they have a great process — an extremely environmentally friendly shale process, which is exceptional. With the price of oil where it is right now, unfortunately it’s difficult to prove that process to anyone yet.”

“While we have been working with renewable energy sources to some extent for some time, we are very much now focusing resources to engineer innovation for other renewable technologies,” says Maxwell. “We can see this shift with the government moving away from coal to natural gas, which is only a small step to clean up the environment. We’re really looking into energy sources that allow independent facilities to generate and recover their own energy, sustaining and cleaning up a lot of what past generations have created.”

PSE is also heavily involved with development of multiple technical aspects in design for the food industry — a growing market. These projects incorporate all of the firm’s disciplines: mechanical, structural, process, controls, electrical — the full gamut. “Particularly, we’re engineering for the future; we are embracing new technology that comes out and keeps us on the cutting edge,” says Maxwell. “We’re looking for better end results with our clients in mind.”

Engineering a better world

Maxwell and his colleagues adhere to the tagline, “Engineering a better world through innovation, sustainability and responsibility.” “It’s relatively new for us, but we focus on that tagline,” he explains. “We’re working in a combination of more widely recognized technology such as solar, wind and geothermal, but with our food processing clients we are also looking at vegetable byproducts and how they can be refined and used for energy resources.”

“Renewable energy is a broad term that we can boil down to that which is naturally occurring, can be grown or found in nature and can be used as a cleaner energy source,” Maxwell elaborates. “One thing is for sure: energy demand keeps growing.”

With broad in-house expertise, PSE is able to put a microscope on resource use from a number of perspectives. The firm’s diversity helps keep it balanced and growing — both internally and externally. Being able to pivot to another market when one is slow means PSE is constantly innovating and incorporating input from a number of sectors.

With wide in-house experience and expertise, Precision Systems Engineering stands apart as a leader in innovation in the Western U.S. and around the world.

Published on: March 29, 2016

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