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Professor Duncan McFarlane

Professor Duncan McFarlane

Professor of Industrial Information Engineering

Office Phone: 01223 338069


Duncan McFarlane is Professor of Industrial Information Engineering at the Cambridge University Engineering Department, and head of the Distributed Information & Automation Laboratory within the Institute for Manufacturing. He has been involved in the design and operation of industrial automation and information systems for twenty years.

Prof McFarlane completed a B Eng degree at Melbourne University in 1984, a PhD in the design of robust control systems at Cambridge in 1988, and worked industrially with BHP Australia in engineering and research positions between 1980 and 1994. Prof McFarlane joined the Department of Engineering at Cambridge in 1995 as a lecturer in the area of industrial automation systems. His research work is focused in the areas of distributed industrial automation, reconfigurable systems, RFID integration, track and trace systems and valuing industrial information. Most recently he has been examining the role of automation and information solutions in supporting service environments and in addressing environmental concerns. 

Between 2000 and 2003 he was the European Research Director of the Auto-ID Center external link. From 2001-2011 he was a co-investigator in the EPSRC funded Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre based in the Institute for Manufacturing. In 2004, he became head of the Cambridge Auto ID Lab and co founded a series of programmes on information in the aerospace sector including the Aero ID Programme, examining the role of RFID in the aerospace industry.  Professor McFarlane is also Co-Founder and Chairman of RedBite Solutions Ltd - an industrial RFID and track & trace solutions company.  He was Professor of Service and Support Engineering between 2006 and 2011 which was supported by both Royal Academy of Engineering and BAE Systems. From October 2011, he became Professor of Industrial Information Engineering at Cambridge. Prof. McFarlane is also a lead investigator for the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction external link.


Research interests

  • industrial control & automation,
  • reconfigurable industrial systems design,
  • analysis and synthesis of intelligent control systems,
  • automated identification systems,
  • value of industrial information & sensing,
  • track & trace systems,
  • information systems in complex industrial environments.

Key Publications

Click here for a dynamic list of my publications external link


  1. McFarlane, D., Glover, K., "Robust Controller Design Using Normalised Coprime Factor Plant Descriptions", Springer Verlag, Berlin (1990).
  2. Marik, V, McFarlane, D, Valckenaers, P, eds, Holonic and Multi-Agent Systems for Manufacturing, Springer Verlag, LNAI 2744 (2003)
  3. Chokshi, N, McFarlane, D, “Reconfigurable Process Control Systems”, Springer, (2008)
  4. Ng, Irene C.L., Peter Wild, Glenn Parry, Duncan McFarlane and Paul Tasker (Eds) (2011), Complex Service Systems: Concepts & Research, Springer [to appear]

Recent Book Chapters

  1. McFarlane, D, (2005) Networked RFID in Industrial Control: Current and Future, IFIP International Federation for Information Processing, ISSN: 1571-5736, pages: 3 - 12
  2. Parlikad, A.K, McFarlane, D., Kulkarni, A.G., (2006) Improving product recovery decisions through enhanced information. In: Innovation in Life Cycle Engineering and Sustainable Development. Springer-Verlag / Kluwer. ISBN 1402046014.
  3. Patkai, B and McFarlane, D and Tar, JK and Rudas, IJ (2007) From cybernetics to plectics: a practical approach to systemic enquiry in engineering. In: Intelligent Engineering Systems and Computational Cybernetics. Springer.
  4. Brusey, J. and McFarlane, D.C. (2007) Designing communication protocols for holonic control devices using elementary nets In: Holonic and Multi-Agent Systems for Manufacturing. Lecture notes in computer Science. Springer-Verlag, pp. 76-86. ISBN 9783540744788, 3540744789
  5. McFarlane, D, Thorne, A, Harrison, M, Prodonoff, V, (2008) Reducing Barriers to ID System Adoption in the Aerospace Industry in Miles, S et al (eds), RFID Technology and Applications, CUP.
  6. M. Harrison, A. Brintrup, T. Sanchez Lopez, M. Tomasella, D. C. McFarlane “BRIDGE: Developing and piloting the next generation of networked RFID systems”, Cluster of European Research Projects on the Internet of Things (CERP-IoT) Book, 2010 (in press)
  7. Cuthbert, R, Pennisi, P, McFarlane, D, (2008) A Case Study Approach to Examining Service Information Requirements, Information Technology in the Service Economy: Challenges and Possibilities for the 21st Century IFIP International Federation for Information Processing, Volume , 383-385, DOI: 10.1007/978-0-387-09768-8_34
  8. B. Patkai, D. C. Ranasinghe, M. Harrison and D. McFarlane, "Methodology for development and objective comparison of architectures for networked RFID", Dynamics in Logistics, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 125-128, 2008
  9. Ng, I, Parry, G, McFarlane, D, Tasker, P, (2011) Towards A Core Integrative Framework For Complex Engineering Service Systems, in Ng, Irene C.L., Peter Wild, Glenn Parry, Duncan McFarlane and Paul Tasker (Eds) (2011), Complex Service Systems: Concepts & Research, Springer

Journal Editorial

  1. MacCarthy, B. A., McFarlane, D. C., eds, Special Issue on Manufacturing Responsiveness, International Journal of Operations and Production Management, July, 1999
  2. McFarlane, D., Marik, V, Valckenaers, P, eds, Special Issue on Applications of Intelligent Industrial Control, IEEE Intelligent Systems, IEEE Computer Society, January/February 2005..
  3. Framling, K, McFarlane, D, Special issue on Intelligent Products, Computers in Industry,
  4. Volume 60 , Issue 3 (April 2009)
  5. Sarma, S, Engels, Daniel W.; Cole, Peter; McFarlane, Duncan; Mickle, Marlin H. (2009). ”Special Section on RFID.” IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering, 6.1

Recent Journal Papers

  1. Farid, A, McFarlane, D, (2007) A Design Structure Matrix Based Method for Reconfigurability Measurement of Distributed Manufacturing Systems, International Journal of Intelligent Control and Systems, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp118-129
  2. Brusey, J, Fletcher, M, McFarlane, D, Thorne, A, Non-Autonomous Elementary Net Systems And Their Application To Programmable Logic Control, IEEE Transactions On Systems, Man, And Cybernetics—Part A: Systems And Humans, Vol. 38, No. 2, pp 397-409
  3. Chokshi, N, McFarlane, D, Reconfigurable Control of Chemical Process Operations, Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing, Volume 19, Number 2 / April, 2008, 215-232
  4. Ouertani, Z, Parlikad, A, McFarlane, D, (2008) Towards An Approach To Select An Asset Information Management System, IJCSA, 2008 International Journal of Computer Science and Applications, Vol. 5, No. 3b, pp 25 – 44
  5. Farid, A.M., McFarlane, (2008) D Production Degrees of Freedom as Manufacturing System Reconfiguration Potential Measures. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part B, Journal of Engineering Manufacture, Volume 222, Number 10, pp1301-1314.
  6. Covanich, W, McFarlane, D, Brusey, J, Farid, A, Ready Configuration of Machines into an Existing Manufacturing System”, in International Journal of Agile Manufacturing, v10, n2, 5-18, 2007
  7. Framling, K, McFarlane, D, (2009) Editorial – Special Issue on Intelligent Products, Computers in Industry, Volume 60 , Issue 3, Pages: 135-136
  8. Parlikad, A, McFarlane, D, Harrison, M, Thorne, A, (2009) The role of AIDC technologies in product recovery – an Information Quality perspective, Int. J. Product Lifecycle Management, Vol. 4, Nos. 1/2/3, pp129-145
  9. Covanich, W, McFarlane, D, Assessing the The Ease of Reconfiguration of Distributed Manufacturing Systems and Conventional Manufacturing Systems, Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence
  10. Volume 22, Issue 7, October 2009, Pages 1015-1024
  11. Brintrup, A, McFarlane, D, D Ranasinghe, T Sanchez-Lopez, Owens, K, "Will intelligent assets take off? Towards self-serving aircrafts," IEEE Intelligent Systems, 06 Aug. 2009. IEEE computer Society Digital Library. IEEE Computer Society,, 2009,
  12. Parlikad, A.K.N. and McFarlane, D.C. (2009) A Bayesian Decision Support system for vehicle component recovery International Journal of Sustainable Manufacturing, 1 (4). pp. 415-436. ISSN 1742–7223, 1742-7231 (Online)
  13. Parlikad, A.K.N. and McFarlane, D.C. (2009) Strategies for product recovery decisions International Journal of Product Lifecycle Management, 4 (1/2/3). pp. 186-206. ISSN 1743-5110, 1743-5129(Online)
  14. Sarma, S, Engels, Daniel W.; Cole, Peter; McFarlane, Duncan; Mickle, Marlin H. (2009). Guest Editorial, “Special Section on RFID.” IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering, v6, n1, pages 1-3.
  15. Brusey, J, McFarlane, D, Effective RFID-based Part Tracking for Manufacturing, International Journal of Computer Integrated Manufacturing, 1362-3052, Volume 22, Issue 7, 2009
  16. Sanchez Lopez, T and Ranasinghe, D.C. and Patkai, B and McFarlane, D.C. (2009) Taxonomy, technology and applications of smart objects Information Systems and Frontiers . pp. 1-20. ISSN 1387-3326 (Print) 1572-9419

Recent Conference Papers

  1. Cuthbert, R.C. and Pennesi, P. and McFarlane, D.C. (2008) A case study approach to examining service information requirements In: IFIP WG 8.2 Working Conference on IT in the Service Economy, 10-13 Aug 2008, Toronto, Canada.
  2. Ouertani, M.Z. and Driouchi, T. and Parlikad, A.K.N. and McFarlane, D.C. (2008) Asset information management: a review of tools and methods for strategy assessment In: 3rd World Congress on Engineering Asset Management, 27-30 October 2008, Beijing, China. Item not available online. 23.
  3. Ouertani, M.Z. and Parlikad, A.K.N. and McFarlane, D.C. (2008) Asset information management: research challenges In: IEEE 2nd International Conference on Research Challenges in Information Science, RCIS 08, 3-6 June 2008, Marrakech, Morocco. Item not available online. 24.
  4. Ouertani, M.Z. and Parlikad, A.K.N. and McFarlane, D.C. (2008) Through-life management of asset information In: 5th International Conference on Product Lifecycle Management, 9-11 July 2008, Seoul, Korea. Item not available online.
  5. Kelepouris, T and McFarlane, D.C. (2008) Determining the value of location information systems in a manufacturing Environment In: POMS 19th Annual Conference, 9-12 May 2008, La Jolla, California, U.S.A.
  6. McFarlane, D, Cuthbert, R, Pennesi, P, Information Requirements in Service Delivery, in Proceedings of EUROMA, Groningen, June, 2008
  7. Brintrup, A and Damith C. Ranasinghe, Duncan McFarlane, and Ajith K. Parlikad A review of the intelligent product across the product lifecycle., International Product Lifecycle Management Conference (PLM08), Seoul, Korea, 9-11 Jul., 2008.
  8. Brintrup, A and Ranasinghe, D.C. and McFarlane, D.C. and Parlikad, A.K.N. (2009) A roadmap for the self-serving asset in civil aerospace In: International Academy of Production Engineering Conference (CIRP), 1-2 April 2009, Cranfield, UK.
  9. Kundu, S. and McKay, A. and Cuthbert, R.C. and McFarlane, D.C. and Saxena, D. and Tiwari, A. and Johnson, P. (2009) Service information in the provision of support service solutions: a state-of-the-art review In: CIRP Industrial Product-Service Systems Conference, 1-2 April 2009, Cranfield University, UK.
  10. Parlikad, A.K.N. and McFarlane, D.C. (2009) Exploring the trade-off between information completeness and accessibility in product recovery decisions In: 16th CIRP International Conference on Life Cycle Engineering (LCE 2009), 4-6 May 2009, Cairo, Egypt.
  11. Parlikad, A.K.N. and McFarlane, D.C. (2009) Exploring the trade-off between information completeness and accessibility in product recovery decisions In: 16th CIRP International Conference on Life Cycle Engineering (LCE 2009), 4-6 May 2009, Cairo, Egypt.
  12. Ouertani, M.Z. and Srinivasan, V and Parlikad, A.K.N. and Luyer, E and McFarlane, D.C. (2009) Through-life active asset configuration management In: International Conference on Product Lifecycle Management , 6 - 8 July 2009, Bath, UK
  13. Wild, P.J. Ng, I., and McFarlane, D.C. (2009) “Taming” the Ecology of Transdisciplinary Services Research: Combining, Strategic, Tactical, and Operational views in Integrative Services Research. In Frontiers in Services, 29th Oct - 1st Nov. Hawaii.
  14. Wild, P.J. Pezzotta, G., Cavalieri, S., and McFarlane, D.C. (2009) Towards a Classification of Service Design Foci, Activities, Phases, Perspectives and Participants. 11th International Conference on The Modern Information Technology in the Innovation Processes of the Industrial Enterprises 15-16 October, Bergamo, Italy.
  15. Sánchez López, T, Alexandra Brintrup, Duncan McFarlane, Douglas Dwyer, (2010) "Selecting a multi-agent system development tool for industrial applications: a case study of self-serving aircraft assets", IEEE DEST 2010

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