Professor Duncan McFarlane

Professor of Industrial Informational Engineering & Head, Distributed Information & Automation Laboratory


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. 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.


Prof McFarlane is the lead on the Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring project which is investigating how low-cost, readily available digital technologies can be implemented to support growth and productivity in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The project addresses the common concern that many digital manufacturing solutions are designed for large companies. The research team is working with SME partners on a UK-wide and international project to identify common digital challenges in SME manufacturers and create inexpensive digital options. They will create digital options based on commercially available technologies such as Raspberry Pi, and work with small IT developers and student hackathons to produce a range of customisable solutions.


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.

Professional affiliations

  • Head of Distributed Automation & Information Lab, Institute for Manufacturing (1995 – present)
  • Committee Member of IEE Professional Group (I7) on Next Generation Manufacturing Enterprises (1996 - 2000)
  • Springer Verlag Series in Industrial Control - Member of Editorial Board (1990 - 2001)
  • IFAC Working Committee on Mining, Minerals and Metallurgy (1990 - 2002)
  • IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Technical Committee on Robotics and Manufacturing Systems - Chairman of Subcommittee on Manufacturing (2000 - 2004)
  • Board Member, Maersk McKinner Møller Institute, Odense, Denmark (2000-2002 )
  • Technical Advisory Board - IEE Professional Network on Automation and Control (2001-)
  • IFAC Working Committee on Manufacturing Systems (2001-)
  • UK Node, EU Network of Excellence in Intelligent Manufacturing Systems, (2002-2004)
  • Research Director, Auto ID Labs (2003 – 2007)
  • Management Board, EU PROMISE Project (2004 – 2007)
  • Committee Member of UK RFID Council (2004-2006)
  • Founder and Director, Easy EPC (2004 – 2006)
  • Editor, IEEE Transactions of SMC – Part C (2005 – 2007)
  • Research Director, Aero ID Programme (2005-2007)
  • Founder and Chairman : RedBite Solutions PLC (2007 - present)
  • Steering Board – Cranfield IMRC (2007 – 2011)
  • Research Director, Airport Operations Consortium (2008-2010)
  • Editorial Board, International Journal of Agile Systems and Management (2010)
  • Steering Board, Smart Construction and Infrastructure IKC (2011 - present)
  • IFAC Working Committee on Industrial Agents (2008 - present)


Click here for a dynamic list of my publications


  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. Lu, W, McFarlane, D, Giannikas, V, Zhang, Q, An algorithm for dynamic order-picking in warehouse operations, In European Journal of Operational Research, July 2015, doi:10.1016/j.ejor.2015.06.074
  2. Masood, T, McFarlane, DC, Parlikad, AK, Dora, J, Ellis, A, and Schooling, J (2015) Towards the futureproofing of UK infrastructure, ICE Journal of Infrastructure Asset Management, accepted for publication July 2015
  3. Tsamis, N and Giannikas, V and McFarlane, D and Lu, W and Strachan, J (2015) Adaptive storage location assignment for warehouses using intelligent products. Studies in Computational Intelligence, 594. pp. 271-279. ISSN 1860-949X
  4. Jess, T and Woodall, P and McFarlane, D (2015) Evaluating the applicability of multi-agent software for implementing distributed industrial data management approaches. Studies in Computational Intelligence, 594. pp. 199-207. ISSN 1860-949X
  5. Lu, W and McFarlane, D and Giannikas, V and Zhang, Q (2014) An algorithm for dynamic order-picking in warehouse operations. European Journal of Operational Research. ISSN 0377-2217
  6. Guta, SA, Dumitrache, I, McFarlane, D, Masood, T (2013), Rationales of holonic manufacturing systems in leather industry, Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in  Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics), 8062 LNAI: 199-211 2013
  7. Giannikas, V, Lu, W, McFarlane, D, Hyde, J (2013), Product intelligent in warehouse management: A case study, Lecture Notes in  Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Noes in Bioinformatics), 8062 LNAI:224-235 2013
  8. McFarlane, D, Giannikas, V, Wong, ACY, Harrison, M (2013), Product intelligence in industrial control: Theory and practice, Annual Reviews in  Control 37(1):69-88 2013
  9. McFarlane, D, Giannikas, V, Wong, ACY, Harrison, M (2013), Intelligent products in the supply chain – 10 Years on, Studies in Computational Intelligence 472:103-117 2013
  10. McFarlane, D, Parlikad, A, Neely, A, Thorne, A (2013), A framework for distributed intelligent automation systems developments, Studies in Computational Intelligence 472: 313-326 2013
  11. Kruse, B, Brintrup, A, McFarlane, D, Lopez TS, Owens, K, Krechel, WE (2013), Designing Automated Allocation Mechanisms for Service Procurement of Imperfectly Substitutable Services, IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games 5(1):15-32, March 2013
  12. Lopez, TS, Ranasinghe, DC, Harrison, M, McFarlane, D (2012), Adding sense to the Internet of Things An architecture framework for Smart Objective systems, PERS UBIQUIT COMPUT 16(3):291-309 March 2012
  13. McFarlane, D, Cuthbert, R, (2012) Modelling Information Requirements in Complex Engineering Services, Computers in Industry 63(4):349-360 Article number COMIND2336, May 2012
  14. Kruse, S, Brintrup, A, McFarlane, D, Sanchez Lopez, T, Owens, K, Krechel, W, (2012) Self-serving assets are competing! A multi-agent system for handling competition among products, IEEE Computational Intelligence and AI in Games, vol.PP, no.99, pp.1, doi:10.1109/TCIAIG.2012.2222406
  15. Kelepouris, T, McFarlane, D, Giannikas, V (2012) A Supply Chain Tracking Model Using Auto-ID Observations, International Journal of Information Systems and Supply Chain Management, v5, n4.
  16. Cuthbert, R, McFarlane, D, Neely, A, (2011) The Impact of Contract Type on Service Provider Information Requirement, 'The Advances in Service Research' in International Journal of Service Science, Management, Engineering, and Technology (IJSSMET).
  17. Ranasinghe, D C, Mark Harrison, M, Främling, K, Duncan C. McFarlane: Enabling through life product-instance management: Solutions and challenges. J. Network and Computer Applications 34(3): 1015-1031 (2011)
  18. Kelepouris, T, McFarlane, D, Harrison, M, (2011), Bayesian Supply Chain Tracking Using Serial-Level Information, IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part C: Applications and Reviews, V 41, Issue 5,  pp 733 - 742
  19. Sanchez-Lopez, T, Harrison, M, McFarlane, D (2011) “Adding Sense to the Internet of Things - An Architecture Framework and High-Performance Protocol for Smart Objects”, Journal of Personal and Ubiquitous Computing - Special Issue " User Driven Applications RFID Applications & Challenges, DOI: 10.1007/s00779-011-0399-8, pp 1–18.
  20. Brintrup, A, McFarlane, D, D Ranasinghe, T Sanchez-Lopez, Owens, K, (2011) "Will intelligent assets take off? Towards self-serving aircrafts," IEEE Intelligent Systems, 26 (3). pp. 66-75. ISSN 1941-1294
  21. Covanich, W, McFarlane, D, (2011) Comparing the Control Structures of ISA S88 and Holonic Component-Based Architecture, IEEE Trans on Systems Man and Cybernetics – Part C Applications and Reviews V. 41, No.

Recent Conference Papers

  1. Jess, T., Woodall, P., Dodwani, V., Harrison, M., McFarlane, D., Nicks, E., Krechel, W. (2015), An Industrial Data Recommender System To Solve The Problem of Data Overload, 23rd European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS 2015), Münster, Germany, May 26-29, 2015.
  2. Woodall, P., Yilmaz, G., Giannikas, V., Lu, W. and McFarlane, D. (2015), “New Directions for Warehousing Data Management Research: Extensions to an Existing Review”. In proceedings of the International Conference on Industrial Informatics (INDIN), Cambridge, UK.
  3. Jess, T., Woodall, P. and McFarlane, D. (2015). Overcoming Limited Dataset Availability when Working with Industrial Organisations. In proceedings of the International Conference on Industrial Informatics (INDIN), Cambridge, UK.
  4. Jess, T, Woodall, P, McFarlane, D, (2014) A Framework for identifying suitable cases for using market based approaches in industrial data acquisition, 17th September 2014, International Data and Information Management Conference, Loughborough, UK
  5. Woodall, P, Jess, T, Harrison, M, McFarlane, D, Shah, A, Krechel, W, Nicks, E, (2014) A Framework for Detecting Unnecessary Industrial Data in ETL Processes, 27th – 30th July 2014, International Conference on Industrial Informatics (INDIN), Porto Alegre, Brazil
  6. Masood, T, McFarlane D, Schooling, J, Parlikad, A, Catton, C, (2014) The Role of Futureproofing in the Management of Infrastructural Assets, International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure, 30th September – 1st October 2014, Vienna, Austria
  7. Tsamis, N, Giannikas, V, McFarlane, D, Lu, W, Strachan, J, (2014) Adaptive Storage Location Assignment for Warehouses Using Intelligent Products, Sohoma 2014, 5th – 6th November 2014, Nancy, France
  8. Jess, T, Woodall, P, McFarlane, D, (2014) Evaluating the Applicability of Multi Agent Software for Implementing Distributed Industrial Data Management Approaches, Sohoma 2014, 5th – 6th November 2014, Nancy, France
  9. Parlikad, A, Srinivasan, R, McFarlane, D, Catton, P, (2013) Information Futureproofing for large-scale infrastructure, (2013) IET / IAM Asset Management Conference, 27th – 28th November 2013 London
  10. Masood, T, Cuthbert, R, McFarlane, D, Parlikad, A, (2013) Information Futureproofing for large-scale infrastructure, (2013) IET / IAM Asset Management Conference, 27th – 28th November 2013 London
  11. Lu, W, Giannikas, V, McFarlane, D, Hyde, J, (2013)The role of distributed intelligence in warehouse management systems, 3rd International Workshop on Service Orientation in Holonic and Multi-Agent Manufacturing and Robotics, Valenciennes, France
  12. Kola, D, Giannikas, V, McFarlane, D (2012), Travel behavior applied in freight transportation using intelligent products, 2nd International Conference on Communications Computing and Control Applications, CCCA 2012
  13. McFarlane, D (2012), Product Intelligence: Theory and practice, IFAC Proceedings Volumes (IFAC-Papers Online) 14: 9-14, 2012
  14. McFarlane, D, Giannikas, V, Wong, ACY, Harrison, M (2012), Intelligent products in the supply chain – 10 years on, IFAC Proceedings Volumes (IFAC-Papers Online) 14: 655-660, 2012
  15. McFarlane, D, Parlikad, A, Neely, A, Thorne, A (2012),  A framework for distributed intelligent automation systems developments, IFAC Proceedings Volumes (IFAC-Papers Online) 14: 758-763, 2012
  16. Giannikas, V, McFarlane, D (2011) Product Intelligence in Intermodal Transportation: The Dynamic Routing Problem, submitted to Log Dynamics, Bremen, April 2011
  17. Cuthbert, R, McFarlane, D, Information Requirements for Complex Service Systems: A study of the London Borough of Sutton, Service Week Conference, 22-23 September 2011, Cambridge, UK
  18. Neely A, McFarlane D, Visnjic I, (2011) Complex Service Systems - Identifying Drivers, Characteristics and Success Factors, in Proceedings of Euroma 2011, Cambridge, UK
  19. Tomasella M, Thorne A, McFarlane D, Febvay G, Usserau L (2011) Airport services to passengers with reduced mobility: a case for adoption of Auto ID technologies? in Proceedings of Euroma 2011, Cambridge, UK
  20. Panda R, Ranasinghe, DC, Parlikad, A, McFarlane, D (2010) A condition monitoring platform using COTS wireless sensor networks – Lessons and experience, International Conference on Advanced Information Networking and Applications, AINA, 473-480, 2010
  21. 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", Proceedings of IEEE DEST, Egypt.

Contact Details

T: +44 (0) 1223 338069
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