Minimising Energy Utilisation for Batch Production through Multivariate Scheduling Optimisation

IT (Institute of Technology), Sligo – Centre for Precision Engineering, Materials and Manufacturing research (PEM Research Centre)


The Institute's Centre for Precision Engineering, Materials and Manufacturing research (PEM Research Centre) is a partner in a successful Interreg 1.1 application that is developing an Advanced Manufacturing Research programme specifically for the Health and Life Science Sector. The other main academic partners include Catalyst, University of Ulster, LyIT, and University of Glasgow in addition to a number of manufacturing companies. The programme will fund a number of PhD and Post-doctoral projects that are industrially focused. The areas that the proposed research programme include are, sustainable manufacturing, with the PEM Research Centre leading out on, advanced polymer products, nano-manufacturing and also polymeric and metallic Additive Manufacturing. The PEM Research Centre is collaborating with GSK based in Sligo on one of the Industrial research projects within the programme and now has an opportunity to recruit a PhD researcher to work specifically on this project.


The postdoctoral researcher will contribute to the GSK project   “Minimising energy utilisation for batch production through multivariate scheduling optimisation” working with Principal Investigators Dr. David Tormey and Dr. John Donovan. Specifically, the role requires knowledge, ideally in the following areas: multivariate statistics, data analytics, production system modeling and simulation, DoE and process optimization. The successful candidate will also be expected to contribute to the formulation and submission of research publications and research proposals as well as help manage and direct this complex and challenging project as opportunities allow.


The project is fully funded under the Interreg VA program for three years.  As well as providing funding for equipment and materials there is a dedicated budget to support training and participation in international conferences. A generous stipend of €18,500 plus fees per year will be available for the right candidate and is at a level that may be attractive to candidates considering pursuing a PhD after some time in industry.

PhD project specification

Overall: Develop a multi-objective energy efficient workflow scheduling model with particular application in the pharmaceutical industry. Simulate the model and validate it in an industrial context.

  • 1) Review state-of-the-art in multi-objective workflow scheduling modelling with particular emphasis on energy optimisation.
  • 2) Review the state-of-the-art in multi-objective optimisation algorithms with particular reference to genetic algorithms and artificial neural networks.
  • 3) Simulate the current workflow scheduling operation. Include existing production scheduling constraints in the simulation model.
  • 4) Validate the model against the current operating practice in an industrial context.
  • 5) Evaluate of the workflow scheduling simulation model and optimise using appropriate optimisation algorithms.
  • 6) Expand the simulation model to include additional objectives such as energy optimisation.
  • 7) Validate the final model in an industrial context.

The expected output of the project will be new knowledge contributing to the state-of-the-art in multi-objective scheduling with particular emphasis of energy optimisation.  The student will make contributions through presentations at major international conferences and publications in high impact factor peer-review journals.

Candidate should have minimum 2.1 Hons Bachelor degree in Mathematics, Statistics, Engineering, Operations Research or other cognate area.  The PhD student will be working as part of a team involving the academic supervisors, postdocs as well as other PhD students pursuing projects in similar areas. Candidates will need show that they are capable of working in a team environment, but also that they can “self-start” and work unsupervised when required.  It is also expected that the student will be capable of innovative thinking and problem solving. This project is being carried out with the close cooperation of industrial partner  GSK. Candidates should possess characteristics and attributes that equip them well for working in such a collaboration.

Other General Duties and Responsibilities:

Perform the following activities in conjunction with and under the guidance of the Principal/Co Investigator and Industry partner:

  1. Plan and conduct assigned research individually or jointly in accordance with the project deliverables and PEM Centre’s research strategy.
  2. Survey the research literature and environment, understand the research challenges associated with the project & subject area, & develop/implement a suitable research strategy.
  3. Document research output including analysis and interpretation of all data, maintaining records and databases, drafting technical/progress reports and papers as appropriate
  4. Participate in communication with GSK.
  5. Develop and enhance research profile and reputation and that of the Institute of Technology Sligo, PEM Research Centre/School of Engineering and Design, including contributing to publications of international quality in high profile/quality refereed journals, enhancing the research impact in terms of economic/societal benefit, and gathering indicators of esteem.
  6. Contribute to the presentation of work at international and national conferences, at internal and external seminars, colloquia and workshops to develop and enhance the PEM Centre’s research profile.
  7. Contribute to the identification of potential funding sources and to assist in the development of proposals to secure funding from internal and external bodies to support future research.
  8. Collaborate with academic colleagues and participate in team/group meetings/seminars/workshops across the Institute’s Research community and wider regional shareholder community (e.g Academic and Industrial Partners).
  9. Contribute to safety management related to the organisation and running of PEM Research Laboratory and/or Experimental techniques, equipment and processes as appropriate.
  10. Keep up to date with current knowledge and recent advances in the field/discipline.
  11. Undertake any other duties of equivalent standing as assigned by the Lead PI/Co-PI or postdoctoral researcher team.
  12. Establish and sustain a track record of independent and joint published research to establish and maintain PEM Research Centre’s research reputation in the subject area.

These key tasks are not intended to be exhaustive but simply highlight a number of major tasks which the staff member may be reasonably expected to perform.

Application Process:

Interested applicants should send a cover letter and CV by email to Dr. David Tormey, with subject line ‘GSK PhD Project’.


For informal enquires please contact Dr. David Tormey,, +353-71-91-55496

Acknowledgement: This project is supported by the European Union's INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).