Research in the Industrial Engineering Department can be broken down into two broad areas:
- The first of these is the development of appropriate modelling and analysis frameworks to examine the performance of complex systems and to optimize the design of these systems.
- The second is the research into human performance and the design of working environments designed to promote safety and productivity for the people working in these environments.
Systems modelling and analysis
Systems modelling and analysis occurs in a broad variety of contexts. Some of these include the traditional production areas normally associated with industrial engineering. Manufacturing control systems, maintenance systems, quality control systems, the sizing and location of facilities, and the logistics of distribution systems are among the research areas covered by the department. The Department has also extended its research to non-manufacturing settings. One important setting involves different aspects of the design of the healthcare system. These can range from models for evaluating and improving throughput of certain specific services to larger scale studies of system logistics and capacity.
Another area of considerable interest has been control strategies and performance analysis of telecommunications systems. In the area of natural resources and the environment, research has involved new industries such as aquaculture and old industries such as mining, forestry and fishing as well as problems involving pollution cleanup and the location of treatment facilities.
Human performance and working environments
The design of work environments and work processes is based on research on industrial ergonomics. This research includes innovative ways of measuring the reach envelopes and modelling isometric and isokinetic workspaces for both able-bodied and wheelchair mobile individuals. Other research has involved development of instrumentation for strength measurement as well as electromyography studies. These research efforts are aimed at developing models of worker physiological cost and comprehensive industrial work design models.
Research also is carried out on interfacing ergonomics with advanced manufacturing and in integrating facilities design with safety and ergonomics. Research into a variety of fundamental modelling methodologies is carried out. These include fundamental work in decision analysis and risk analysis. There is a strong interest in stochastic modelling with an emphasis on computational methods for stochastic models. Research is carried out on linear, nonlinear, integer and dynamic programming methods as well as stochastic programming. Computational application to large-scale dynamic systems is emphasized. Scheduling and vehicle routing problems are areas of considerable interest.
All researchers in the Industrial Engineering Department carry out funded research that allows them to support graduate students and other research associates. Most have support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.