The Control Systems research group at the University of Pretoria strives to address industrial needs through the application of the most recent advances in control theory. The aim is not only to promote, but also to apply automation and control for the benefit of humankind. There are two research areas of specific interest:
1. Model-based control and optimisation in the process industries
The aim is to assist industries to 'live' lighter on the plant by optimising energy usage in both main and peripheral processes. Better usage of energy does not only result in a reduced carbon footprint, but can also increase the profitability of a process. Process optimisation can also be used to increase the efficiency in terms of quality and quantity to offset declining profit margins.
To control and optimise a process, it is necessary to have an adequate model of the process. Although significant advances have been made in process modelling, many of the models are not suitable for dynamic process control. The challenge remains to construct low-cost control-relevant process models for use in optimisation and model-based control strategies.
Performance metrics for processes can be incorporated into economic objective functions that form part of a network of advanced process controllers. Additional criteria such as overall equipment effectiveness, energy efficiency, water management, and medium and reagent usage can be included in these objective functions. Information and communications technology, smart mining and industrial internet solutions can be used to optimally integrate the mineral processing supply chain in the form of a distributed network of advanced process controllers. Smart mining concepts such as material tracking and supply chain integration will play a significant role in assisting process controllers to reduce disturbances and to extract more benefit from the mineral processing value chain.
2. Model-based control of disease networks
Control systems theory has the potential to provide significant benefits to the medical industry. Pinning control of contact networks can potentially reduce the impact of diseases such as HIV/Aids and Tuberculosis. The aim is to model the spread of these diseases and develop strategies of how and where to administer medicine for the most significant impact.
Group Head: Prof Ian Craig
Group Member: Prof Derik le Roux
Extraordinary Professor: Prof. Margret Bauer
Research Associate: Dr. Dries Wiid
Research Associate: Dr. Laurentz Olivier