Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering

TechTalk – Urban Co-modality: Transforming the Future Collaborative Passenger and Freight Transportation

June 20, 2024 (Thursday) 4:30-5:30pm
Due to the rapid development of the e-commerce market and the surging urban logistics demand, the concept of collaborative passenger and freight transportation in the urban context (urban co-modality) is becoming increasingly popular. Urban co-modality exploits the under-utilized capacity in existing urban multimodal transportation systems. This talk will introduce three types of urban co-modality, namely, co-modality based on public transit systems, individual travelers (crowdshipping), and emerging modular vehicles. In this talk, we first introduce analytical and optimization studies of the co-modality problem based on public transit systems, including quantifying the impacts of introducing co-modality on public transit and urban freight systems, examining the Pareto-improving co-modal system that benefits both users and operators, and designing co-modal service networks. We then present recent studies on crowdshipping – engaging travelers in the crowd to carry freight. The optimal pricing strategies of the crowdshipping platform in alternative business formats are identified. Finally, we discuss prospective opportunities to use modular vehicle-based transit systems for co-modal service. Our studies demonstrate that collaborative passenger and freight transportation is a future trend of sustainable transportation, which has the potential to alleviate congestion, reduce carbon emissions, facilitate urban mobility, and create social benefits for users and operators.

TechTalk – Healthcare Decision-Making: From Data to Solutions and Insights

May 09 2024 (Thursday) 4:30-5:30pm
Every day, numerous decisions must be made in healthcare systems, addressing a wide range of issues, including patient admissions, physician assignments, operating room scheduling, pharmaceutical inventory control, and ambulance dispatch. Conventionally, these decisions are made by experienced experts. However, human decision-makers may face challenges such as the unavailability of complete information, rapidly changing healthcare environments, personal biases, and prompt responses to medical emergence. Additionally, decision-makers often struggle to evaluate the effectiveness and possible consequences of their decisions.
This talk will introduce a set of scientific and systematic tools that leverage operations research techniques (originally developed to solve decision-making problems during World War II) and data collected in healthcare systems. The talk will begin with an overview of traditional healthcare decision-making approaches before delving into data-driven methodologies that have emerged in recent years. Subsequently, the speaker will share his experience over the years in tackling decision-making problems in healthcare systems in Hong Kong and the region, including emergency department patient flow modelling and optimization, medical appointment scheduling, vaccination strategies, and healthcare logistics. Finally, potential future directions for addressing healthcare decision-making challenges will be explored.
The supports by HKRGC (Refs: 27200419; 17204823; F-HKU704/22) and HMRF of the Health Bureau (Refs: 14202115; 21222881) for the projects to be presented in this talk are greatly acknowledged.

TechTalk – Optimal of the Service Reliability of Self-Service Systems

April 11 2024 (Thursday) 4:30-5:30pm
Self-service systems, such as electrical vehicle charging piles, are often deployed in a fleet at a designated location. These systems may fail either while idle or during customer use. If the system initially chosen by a customer is nonfunctional or fails during service, the customer may switch to another available system for service. This phenomenon is called failure-induced demand switching (FDS). To maximize the long-run profit of the fleet, the operator must balance revenue with operation and maintenance costs, by conducting appropriate maintenance actions. However, it is challenging to develop an optimal maintenance policy due to FDS. This talk defines and assesses the service level of such systems in terms of the proportion of demands being completed in the long run, and proposes a three-dimensional maintenance policy to maximize the fleet’s long-run profit rate. The insights are expected to guide the operators of such systems in enhancing their profitability.

Young Scholar TechTalk – Cyber-Physical Spare Parts Intralogistics System for Aviation MRO

Spare parts management is a vital supporting function in aviation Maintenance, Repair,and Overhaul (MRO). Spare parts intralogistics (SPI), the operational perspective of spare parts management, significantly affects performance of MRO activities. This study proposes Cyber-Physical Spare Parts Intralogistics System (CPSPIS) to address the synchronization problems associated with the SPI business process and SPI resources. The proposed system applies Internet-of-Things technologies and unified representations to provide resources and operations traceability and visibility. Further, CPSPIS contributes several services with self-X abilities for real-time synchronization throughout the SPI process. In addition, CPSPIS develops applications and visualization tools for real-time cooperation between execution and decision-making. Finally, this study conducts a real-life case study in one of the largest aviation MRO organizations in Hong Kong, and discusses the quantitative and qualitative improvements of CPSPIS.

TechTalk – Wearable Assistive Robots for Aging Society

A rapidly aging population is one of the grand challenges facing the society. It is estimated that by 2050, the global population of people aged 65 or older will reach 1.6 billion. This is a major difficulty that many elders are experiencing severe limitations in mobility and manipulability in their daily lives, resulting in tremendous social and economic challenges. This talk will discuss a User-Centric Co-Creation (UC³) approach to develop intelligent robotic systems to assist mobility and manipulability as well as prevent falls. The UC³ methodology lays down a theoretical foundation for multi-disciplinary approach to the development of personalized wearable assistive systems. It will pave a new avenue to advance the ergonomics and gerontechnology beyond current horizons.

TechTalk – Cyber-Physical Internet (CPI) for Cross-Border Logistics of Manufactured Products

The vision of “Cyber-Physical Internet (CPI)” is to establish a new paradigm for sending and receiving manufactured goods just like sending and receiving instant messages over the internet using online chatting platforms. Four innovations are critical to achieve this ultimate vision: (1) digitization architecture for entangling the flows of information and materials into one flow of cyber-physical objects for manufacturing and logistics operations; (2) network services for configuring local aera network (LAN), wide area network (WAN) and catchment area network (CAN); (3) value mechanisms to motivate and facilitate participation and collaboration between multiple stakeholders including shippers, carriers, forwarders; and (4) decision analytics for synchronized logistics planning, scheduling and execution. These innovations are based upon some fundamental breakthroughs of CPI routers and TCP/PIP protocols that are yet to be developed.

Tech Talk – Digital Twin-Enabled Synchronization System for Smart Precast Construction

Prefabricated construction is an emerging construction approach to produce prefabricated components in the off-site factory and transport them to the construction site for assembly, which provides enhanced quality, productivity, and sustainability. On-site assembly is an uncertain and complex stage in prefabrication projects, due to high variability of outside conditions, organization of multi-contractors, and geographic dispersion of activities. Information technology is adopted for the management of precast on-site assembly, such as Internet-of-Things (IoT), Cyber-Physical Internet (CPS), and cloud computing, which generate massive digital twins of construction resources and activities. This tech talk introduces a digital twin-enabled real-time synchronization system (DT-SYNC) with a robotic testbed demonstration for smart prefabricated on-site assembly. On-site resources are converted into Smart Construction Objects (SCOs) attaching with UWB and RFID devices to collect and integrate real-time nD data (e.g. identity, location, cost, and construction progress). Through smart mobile gateway, various on-site resources and activities could be real-timely interoperated with their corresponding digital twins. Cloud-based services are provided for real-time monitoring through high-fidelity virtual models, and robotic control with automatic navigations and alerts. Supported by the cyber-physical visibility and traceability provided by digital twins, a real-time synchronization model is designed to organize and coordinate operations and resources with simplicity and resilience, which guarantees that the appropriate resources are spatiotemporally allocated to the appropriate activities.

Tech Talk – Sensing and Data Processing for Human Balancing Evaluation

Balance ability is human’s basic physiological ability that ensures stable standing and walking. Falls are major threats to the health and independent living of the elderly. 10% of the falls in the elderly are associated with fractures, and some can lead to head injuries and deaths. A highly effective human balance sensor is invented, which can capture high-resolution dynamic pressure distribution under human feet. The variation of the pressure distribution can be used to solve the dynamics of human motion while standing on the balance sensor. The algorithms using artificial intelligence are developed to assess the risk of falling for elderly people to help them prevent falls. Furthermore, this sensor can be used to measure balance ability of athletes, such as weightlifting, golf and gymnastics. In medical diagnosis, balance ability tests can provide important information for diagnostics of neural disease. It can also be used to identify drunk driving.