The rigour of its academic offering means UTS Tech Lab has at its disposal the country’s foremost authority in the field of mechanical and mechatronic engineering, benefiting both students and industry alike.

Prof. Jochen Deuse

When it comes to applying artificial intelligence and data science to the field of industrial manufacturing, few are more knowledgeable than Professor Jochen Deuse.

The Director of the UTS Centre for Advanced Manufacturing, Professor Deuse is a pioneer, having spent the early parts of his career investigating the potential of machine learning, at a time well before human-centric, real-time AI was recognised as a part of the new information revolution.

A proud graduate of TU Dortmund University and RWTH Aachen University in Germany, Professor Deuse first distinguished himself from his peers after investigating the application of Artificial Neural Networks in Group Technology for his PhD thesis. After graduation, he accepted a role at the multinational engineering and technology company Bosch, where he explored unsupervised learning algorithms for anomaly detection in manufacturing semiconductor power diodes.

Jochen Deuse at UTS Tech Lab with visitors from the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

I worked eight years for Bosch in the automotive electronics division in various roles ranging from manufacturing operations to business strategy and ending up in an expat senior management role with Bosch Australia. In that time, I was lucky to learn so much (the hard way) about operating a large factory and its problems by everyday practice

Informed learning

It was while working in the private sector that Professor Deuse says that he recognised there was not enough time to understand the root causes of these types of issues. Today he has made it his mission to ensure all his scientific research is inspired by real problems from the field of industrial manufacturing.

“I like to call that research for factory,” he says.

Having quit his role at Bosch Australia in 2005, Professor Deuse turned his attention back to the field of academia where he took up the position of Head of the Institute of Production Systems at his old alma mater, the TU Dortmund University.

After relocating from Melbourne to the German city, Professor Deuse says his family recognised they missed Australia badly and wanted to return. After a lengthy wait, the opportunity to helm the UTS Centre for Advanced Manufacturing came his way, with the Faculty’s previous Dean, Professor Ian Burnett, proposing a dual appointment. A grateful Professor Deuse says this has allowed him to maintain his professional networks in Germany while also opening new research opportunities across both countries.

A glimpse into the future

During his three decades in engineering Professor Deuse has witnessed many trends come and go. The one which has had the greatest impact is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) which he argues has created “a major change” in the manufacturing industry.

For good reason, Germany labelled it Industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution. IIoT has changed industrial automation and communication technology and in combination with affordable sensors in MEMS technology improved the availability of data in a factory significantly. Data availability is not only the foundation for AI application, in particular machine learning, in manufacturing, but also led to the applicability of well-known, but not utilised scientific models, such as factory physics (i.e. applied queuing theory).

Another big change, albeit slightly less dramatic, has been the gradual retirement of purely mechanical systems, with most products now mechatronic systems reliant on mechanics, electronics and software.

“On top of that comes connectivity through the internet resulting in what we call Cyber-Physical systems respectively. Cyber-physical human systems as the human-machine-interface remains a critical element in socio-technical systems.”

While that development has opened the door to a wide range of new opportunities, it has also resulted in much higher complexity too, he says.

Collaborations remain key

While his numerous local and international appointments have helped cement Professor Deuse’s professional reputation, it’s his work spearheading several high-profile collaborations for which he has gleaned the most attention.

These include contract research for technology conglomerate Siemens which saw Professor Deuse’s team access the UTS Tech Lab’s microalgae photo-bioreactor to conduct a proof of concept for virtually off-setting CO2 emissions from a manufacturing process at Siemens German factory by a CO2 sink in Australia.

Professor Deuse says when looking to collaborate with third-party organisations, he endeavours to seek out those who are open to exploring innovative topics in the advanced manufacturing field.

In addition to attracting research income, the focus is very much on gaining scientific knowledge. Hence, industry research projects also have great potential for ambitious scientific publications. Moreover, I look for long-term collaboration partners who have the potential to expand the existing Techlab ecosystem.

Professor Deuse says shared relationships between universities and industry will, always remain of critical importance. Not only are such collaborations essential to progress but they also extend well beyond an exchange of research results only, he says.

“Many of my industry projects I would consider as field experiments, i.e. open-heart surgery comprising a high risk of failure, i.e. rejecting the actual research hypothesis. Experimenting is the original idea of science, and it requires very strong and reliable relationships. You cannot conduct these types of experiments in a university lab.

“In my daily work, I visit factories of all types of industries and every visit inspires my scientific research.”