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Digitisation of Skill-intensive Manufacturing Processes

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The focus of this project is to develop and demonstrate, in a realistic factory environment, digitisation solutions that deliver a step increase in productivity of high-value manufacturing and assembly. The aim of this project involves capturing and digitising skill-intensive manual tasks in manufacturing, such as wing manufacture, engine assembly and composite layup. The challenge here is simultaneous tracking of human actions and the effect of those actions on the workpiece(s) during a skill-intensive manual task and the digitisation/modelling of this knowledge in real-time.

This research is based on the concept that every manual manufacturing task is an interaction between the human worker and the workpiece(s). In this interaction, every human action step on the workpiece is followed by feedback from the workpiece to which the worker reacts in the next step. This feedback could be visual, audible and/or tactile. A series of such action-feedback-reaction loops results in the workpiece being processed from start to finish. By observing these interactions and capturing human actions and their effects on the workpiece over the duration of the task and for multiple runs of that task, expert human gestures in executing the task and adept human responses to unexpected problems in the task, can be extracted and digitised. Now the availability of a range of sensors (visual, audible and tactile) makes it possible to capture human-workpiece interactions on a shopfloor in an inexpensive manner.

This project will support the technology developments and research projects carried out under the Airbus / Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) Research Chair in Digitisation for Manufacturing based at the University of Sheffield. This project will be undertaken in collaboration with Airbus UK and the internationally renowned University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) including the AMRC’s £43 million state-of-the-art ‘Factory 2050’ - the UK’s first fully reconfigurable assembly and component manufacturing research facility.

Funding Notes

Applicants can apply for a Scholarship from the University of Sheffield but should note that competition for these Scholarships is highly competitive. it will be possible to make Scholarship applications from the Autumn with a strict deadline in late January/early February. Specific information will appear here:
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This project will require candidates to have excellent engineering and computational skills. It will be an advantage if the candidates have familiarity with systems engineering (including simulation), programming skills (at least MATLAB), and/or hardware/software integration.

How good is research at University of Sheffield in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 21.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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