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Congratulations Dr Louw Butler

During my undergraduate studies I became interested in optimisation methods and techniques. I moved on to complete an MSc in Engineering in Mechatronic Engineering, focused on the optimal integration of mechanical, electronic and control systems with a manufacturing basis. The natural progression from there was to shift focus up to a systems level, which led to the topic of my PhD.

I recently completed my PhD in Engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The aim of my research was to apply previously unused optimisation methods based on Computational Intelligence to improve the performance of modern manufacturing systems. The focus was both on production planning and operations scheduling. I developed an algorithm based on the migration of species between habitats and a tried and trusted planning method to produce improved production plans. I also developed a distributed scheduling strategy based on the improvisation techniques of musicians to improve the throughput through better scheduling of part and assembly processing.

I started my PhD studies while lecturing at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. I moved to New Zealand in the final year of my studies, and managed to complete my thesis while working at BVT. Skills in carrying out high level research will be useful in my work for keeping up-to-date with the changing field of Occupational Health and Safety in New Zealand. Systems thinking and experience with analysing complex manufacturing systems will also be put to good use in helping a wide range of organisations in New Zealand effectively assess and manage the specific risks involved with their operations.