I don't think permanent contractors need to stay the very same as they always were. They can be solved quickly if you are high above the level they are calculated for and because PF adds new ones very slowly, actually until level 480 while the game meanwhile has 1400 levels, they became very easy after a while.
So of course different concepts could be thought about. For example contractors who needs to be played over a longer time, obviously for higher rewards then.
But Edward Harland was not the test for such a new well thought concept. He has 38 out of 40 contracts which are as easy to solve as ever before, the same rewards as usual and just 2 contracts which are much harder to solve. Because of this it is more than obvious, that PF just miscalculated those 2 contracts instead trying something really new.
And here we are back to the core problem, developers not playing the game themselves and having no idea and feeling what players were already doing when a new contractor joins the game and what they need to do to solve it in parallel. They were just increasing numbers which consequences they do not really understand, in the draft it was even 10 times higher showing how far away from understanding the game mechanics and balance they already are.
And I am afraid this only can be solved by developers getting more realistic views on what players are actually doing. If they had understood their miscalculations for the required amounts of concrete to upgrade the later 4-slot ships, they would not just have resisted to make anything new in the game asking for even more products from the workshop, but they would finally have reworked and rebalanced the output from the cement factory with the game levels and the efficiency of the recipes for cogs and concrete.
As a direct reality check I would highly suggest the developers at PF to just try to upgrade USNS Mercy with a non god mode level 640 account using the outdated concrete recipe from level 320. If after 10 days of fulltime producing concrete 24/7 they still think players have workshop capacities a lot, so workshop products should be even used more, then I will accept the test result, but state they have no life.