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Automation Systems

Our core expertise...


The Automation Systems Group (ASG) led by Prof Robert Harrison focuses on research and development related to manufacturing digitalisation and Industry 4.0, impacting on and supporting the lifecycle of automation in industry today and in the future.

A major theme in this work is the creation of digital twins, the virtual engineering of these systems and the direct deployment of control and monitoring capabilities from a common lifecycle engineering model. It also encompasses the real-time collection of in-process production data, which can be used to rapidly identify product/production performance correlations.


A targeted body of internationally leading research, carried out by our academic and research experts, has built up core expertise in the area of Industry 4.0, cyber-physical systems and related engineering tools and methods. Current and recent projects have established new approaches with the potential to enable a major change in the way manufacturing automation systems are engineered and supported through their lifecycle.

Our key capabilities relate to digitalisation, providing methods and software solutions to support key aspects of manufacturing systems’ engineering and production such as system’s virtual validation using digital models and simulations, robust, scalable and vendor agnostic shop floor connectivity solutions and integration strategies to collect more structured and better quality production data, as well as advanced data/information analytics methods to enable advanced decision support or automate complex processes.

A major objective is the development of data centric manufacturing systems’ engineering and production processes. Our research and industrial projects focus on the deployment of data and information driven systems throughout all levels of manufacturing organisations, from shop floor to top floor and across engineering domains and throughout all phases or production system’s lifecycle, from design and engineering to manufacturing operations.

Partnerships and real world impact...

Our industrial and R&D activities are conducted in close partnership with end users in the automotive, energy (battery, fuel cell, electric machine), general engineering, food and packaging sectors. This encompasses their product and manufacturing supply chains; a mix of large, medium and small enterprises. Partners on active project currently include JLR, Ford, ThyssenKrupp System Engineering, Froehlich, FDS, Schneider Electric and Siemens.


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