PhD student opportunity in Smart manufacturing systems


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Beatrice Smyth


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The aim of this project is to develop an integrated approach to SMART SYSTEMS for design and manufacture to enable optimal balance of manufacturing costs and energy savings

Title:  Smart manufacturing systems as an enabler for productivity and sustainability

Project description:

The themes for the doctoral project are:

  1. Development of an integrated platform for optimising cost, human factors and energy in manufacturing systems.
  2. Validation of the integrated platform through industrial case studies.
  3. Design of management practices to embed socio-economic and environmental sustainability in selected manufacturing sectors. 

The work will start by identifying the Platform Requirements Specification using prototype technologies linked to both performance parameters and manufacturing process capabilities. Safety and ergonomics for operators and users will be specifically addressed through the use of smart protection systems and energy absorbing devices. An Integrated Design and Manufacturing Methodology will be developed for delivering optimization models for cost and energy saving. The methodology will focus on design variations, production scalability, manufacturing process chains, maintenance and service.

The safety, human factors, cost, and energy models will then be assembled to create the platform which will be applied to support product customisation and rapid reconfiguration of the manufacturing system in response to product or market changes. Integrated Design and Manufacturing Best Practice Recommendations will be produced at the end of this project step. The methodology and the guidelines will be tested using industrial case studies. These case studies will be used to verify the integrated design and manufacturing approach, and to benchmark key platform and process characteristics against user requirements.

The work will consolidate the i-AMS position as a world leader in Manufacturing the Future. It will generate quality publications in international journals, as well as follow-on EPSRC and EU proposals in line with the School strategy to sustain and grow the network of industrial collaborations.

Key skills required for the post:

Applicants must have a degree in mechanical or aerospace engineering, with a minimum of a 2:1 honours degree or an equivalent qualification. Candidates should be able to demonstrate that they are highly motivated, have excellent communication skills, be able to work in a team and undertake challenging tasks using their own initiative. Any experience relevant to manufacturing, engineering modelling or programming would be advantageous, but is not essential.

Key transferable skills that will be developed during the PhD:

This research project will enable the successful student to acquire valuable experience of smart manufacturing platforms, which is highly sought after within industry. The project will use a combination of advanced commercial simulation tools, validating their predictive capability against real industrial data. The training approach utilised in the PRP is specifically targeted to enable PhD graduates to secure very high quality employment in leading companies. Training areas will include four domains encompassing: knowledge & intellectual abilities, personal effectiveness, research governance & organisation, engagement influence & impact.

First/Lead Supervisor and their contact details

Dr Beatrice Smyth, Tel:+ 44 (0)28 9097 4318, Email:

Second Supervisor and their contact details:

Dr Adelaide Marzano, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 4034, Email:

Top up available for this project?

The studentship covers the full university fees and includes an income of up to £18,500 per annum (comprising a £14,000 stipend, a potential £3,000 top-up and the opportunity to undertake teaching and demonstration duties to earn a further £1,500 per annum). The top-up is available, dependent on academic performance.  

Pioneer Research Programmes (PRPs)

Enable researchers to form novel interdisciplinary collaborations to address emerging societal challenges.

The project will be undertaken within the newly created PRP in ‘Intelligent Autonomous Manufacturing Systems’. The PRP is worth up to £1.06 million over three years and includes 9 PhD studentships and funds to develop links with key centres in Europe, US and China. The PRP is design to provide a stimulating environment for the training of the next generation of post-doctoral graduates, directly feeding industry with high quality engineers. The PRP brings together complementary expertise to provide a training programme to develop technical knowledge and professional skills, aimed at preparing the students for their career as future engineering leaders. It also provides a supportive, team environment to undertake research and a wide network of industrial and academic collaborators, enabling students to understand how industry foresees its future engineering and technology needs. 

Media inquiries

Dr Beatrice Smyth, Tel:+ 44 (0)28 9097 4318, Email:

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