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Automation Systems

Research feature

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.

Our Research

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.Read more about our research here.


Our Facilities

Our research facilities are split into two categories:The Multi-purpose Training Machine (MTM) and The Festo Didactic Test Rig

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Integrated Manufacturing and Logistics (IML)

This consists of various manufacturing stations, serviced by Autonomous Guided Vehicles, for the assembly of automotive battery packs.

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Festo Didactic Test Rig

Festo Didactic Test Rig

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.

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Key Publications

Knowledge-based PPR modelling for assembly automation
CIRP Journal of Manufacturing Science and Technology, 2018
M Ahmad, BR Ferrer, B Ahmad, D Vera, JLM Lastra, R Harrison

Complexity in manufacturing systems and its measures: a literature review
European Journal of Industrial Engineering 12 (1), 116-150, 2018
B Alkan, DA Vera, M Ahmad, B Ahmad, R Harrison

A Method to Assess Assembly Complexity of Industrial Products in Early Design Phase
IEEE Access, 2018
B Alkan, D Vera, B Ahmad, R Harrison

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.

Media Centre

Automation Systems Demonstrator

Automation Systems Workbench