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Automation Systems

The Automation Systems Group (ASG) led by Prof Robert Harrison focuses on research and development related to supporting the lifecycle of automation in manufacturing, process control, and embedded systems. A major theme in this work is the virtual engineering of these systems and the direct deployment of control and monitoring capabilities from a common lifecycle engineering model.

The group collaborates closely with industry and partners on the current research include JLR, Ford, ThyssenKrupp System Engineering, Froehlich, FDS, Schneider Electric and Siemens.

A targeted body of internationally leading research carried out by the ASG has built up core expertise in reconfigurable modular automation systems and related engineering tools and methods. Current and recent projects under the research theme of Business-Driven Automation have established a new approach to reconfigurable manufacturing systems with the potential to enable a major change in the way manufacturing automation systems are engineered and supported through their lifecycle.

See more about the background of the group and its members.

Current Projects

Knowledge driven configurable manufacturing (KDCM) focuses on component-based modular reconfigurable systems.

Arrowhead aims to address the technical and applicative challenges associated with cooperative automation.

Direct Digital Deployment of Manufacturing Systems (3Deployment) aims to create new software components for a shareable lightweight 3D visualisation of production stations.

The Augmented Manufacturing Reality project focuses on the development of a novel augmented manufacturing reality, which will enable the automation of the design, configuration, re-configuration and use of manufacturing automation systems.

DigiMan is a €3.5 million EU funded programme within which WMG is working together with Intelligent Energy, Freudenberg, Pretexo, CEA Tech, and Toyota Motor Europe. The project is utilising the latest techniques in digital manufacture and automation in stack production processes to create a state of the art PEM fuel cell assembly process for zero emission automotive vehicles.


Facilities include:

The Multi-purpose Training Machine (MTM) is designed to simulate an automated assembly line incorporating a range of manufacturing related process, including twelve local control stations.

The Festo Didactic Test Rig is a laboratory-based system representing a real automation system used within automotive industry to provide a realistic and effective testing and evaluation of research concept.

Multi-purpose Training Machine (MTM) Festo Didactic Test Rig

MTM (left) and Festo Didactic Test Rig (right)

See full details of the technical equipment we have available.

Key Publications

Energy optimisation in manufacturing systems using virtual engineering-driven discrete event simulation
Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part B: Journal of Engineering Manufacture
Ghani, U., Monfared, R. P., & Harrison, R.

Configuration of SoA-based devices in virtual production cells
International Journal of Production Research
Cachapa, D., Harrison, R., & Colombo, A.

Automation Systems Demonstrator: