Prof Igor Gorlach

Professor, Isuzu Chair of Mechatronics
Department of Mechatronics
041 504 3289
North Campus, Building Nr 204, Room Nr C249

Biography / Background

Igor Gorlach is a Professor at Nelson Mandela University and the Isuzu Chair of Mechatronics. He obtained a Masters degree from Wits University and a PhD from the North-West University. The Isuzu Chair in Mechatronics at Nelson Mandela University was established in 2009. Initially sponsored by General Motors and later by Isuzu, the main objective of the partnership is to co-facilitate cooperation between industry and academia with the aim to enhance human resource development (HRD) in support of the automotive industry. The guiding priorities of the Chair are formulated as follows: identify mutually beneficial projects, engage with the company engineering departments and university staff to support joint activities, facilitate research, training and education, knowledge transfer, and provide guidance and support for students in their interactions with the company.

Ph.D. in Mechanical and Materials Engineering, MSc in Industrial Engineering, BSc in Mechanical Engineering, National Higher Diploma in Education.

Awards and Achievements

My masters student Tim Light was awarded the SA2 medal for his academic achievements.

Professional Activities
Professional Engineer registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) since 2000.
Member of the South African Institute of Industrial Engineers (SAIIE) since 1998.

Teaching Interests

I have a scholarly approach to teaching that is determined by my interaction with industry through the Chair activities. The Chair is an engagement entity at Nelson Mandela University. The Chair made a significant contribution to the establishment of the Mechatronics Bachelor’s degree at Nelson Mandela University as a platform for university-industry collaboration providing opportunities for students of different academic levels to solve real industrial problems, as well as contributing to human capital development in the critical area of engineering and automation. For Isuzu, it is important that the Chair activities should contribute to the company’s competitiveness. On the other hand, for the University it is important that students from various engineering streams would obtain the exposure to a highly advanced automotive industry and new technologies. By engaging with real-world industry, students will be able to apply and test theory in a real industrial environment by gaining valuable practical experience. Regular interaction of the university staff and students with the company staff is a key aspect, which provides a successful long-term partnership and benefits for Nelson Mandela University and Isuzu. This university-industry collaboration allows better prepare young engineers for their careers, but also to increase the number of graduates. The Chair also provides academic support for junior students to adapt to the university environment and mitigate any lack of knowledge in mathematics and science, which is typically due to poor schooling in rural areas of South Africa. This problem has been identified as a major factor contributing to the high student failure rate of engineering programmes. The Chair has implemented a tutoring programme, where senior students help junior students to cope with foundation courses and to acquire the necessary learning skills to master advanced engineering courses. As a result of this initiative, the number of graduates in engineering has been constantly improving.

Research Interests

As the Chair, I am actively involved in applied research in robotics and automation, collaboration with international universities, hosting seminars on research and providing support for student exchange.  The Chair activities also include the commercialisation of products and inventions developed by students. This is achieved by means of registering patents, developing business plans, running market surveys, and establishing spin-off companies. International exchange students, who take their internship at the University, are involved in design projects at Isuzu. Robotic research involves international partner universities, such as Aachen University and Reutlingen University in Germany, in University in Gainesville in the USA. Automation research focuses on improvements and optimisation of the control system of power generation plants at Eskom in collaboration with the University of Cape Town as part of the Eskom Power Plant Engineering Institute. Some power plant controllers exhibit large fluctuations in certain set points, including for some critical parameters, resulting in reduced efficiency, losses, and causes of plant trips. This could be attributed to the aging fleet and different control systems tuning and optimisation methods. Therefore, a study is required to establish the causes and develop a tool to optimise the performance of controllers of power plants.

Representative Publications

R Kirton, IA Gorlach. Example of Cross-Disciplinary approach in Education. International Journal of Advances in Science Engineering and Technology, ISSN(p): 2321 –8991, ISSN(e): 2321 –9009 Volume-7, Issue-4, Oct.-2019
L Van der Westhuizen, IA Gorlach. Modelling of boiler drum level control using Flownex software Environment. WSEAS Transactions on Systems. E- ISSN: 2224-2678, Vol. 18, 2019.
L Van der Westhuizen, IA Gorlach. Integration of low-cost vision system with the Fanuc M-1ia robot for sorting and assembly operations. International Journal of Control Systems and Robotics. ISSN: 2367-8917, Vol. 3, 2018.
M Koekermoer, IA Gorlach, Development of a reconfigurable pallet system for a robotic cell. Matec Web Conferences ISBN 978-1-5108-7292-9, Vol 210, 2018.
IA Gorlach, A success of university-industry partnership.New Trends and Issues Proceedings on Humanities and Social Sciences. ISSN: 2547-881, Vol. 4, Issue 6, 2017.
E Liebenberg, IA Gorlach, Development of a Robot Cell with a Vision System, International Journal of Control Systems and Robotics, ISSN: 2367-8917, Vol. 2, 2017.
T Ferreira, IA Gorlach, Development of An Automated Guided Vehicle Controller Using A Model-Based Systems Engineering Approach.  South African Journal of Industrial Engineering August, Vol, 27(2), 2016.
T Ferreira, IA Gorlach. M Peterek, R Schmitt, Implementation of a Multilateration Strategy for CNC Machine Calibration, the International Conference on Competitive Manufacturing, Coma’13, Stellenbosch, South Africa. 2016.
G Gruher, AV Bublikov, IA Gorlach, G Cawood, Control Strategy for a mobile Platform with omni-directional drive. Bulletin of National Mining University. Scientific and Technical Journal. No 2 (146). ISSN 2071-2227. E-ISSN 2223-2362, 2015.
I McLaren, IA Gorlach, Development of a Tool Changer for a Reconfigurable Machine Tool, the International Conference of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (ICMAE2015), Rome, Italy. 2015.
IA Gorlach, GMSA Chair as an Example of University-Industry Collaboration, the 2nd International Conference on Management Sciences and Innovations-ICMSI 2015, Barcelona, Spain. 2015.
A Kellerman, IA Gorlach, Modelling of Boiler Fireside Control in Flownex Software Environment, the 2015 PRASA-RobMech International Conference, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. 2015.
G Cawood, IA Gorlach, Navigation and locomotion of a low-cost Automated Guided Cart, the 2015 PRASA-RobMech International Conference, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. 2015.
TP Ferreira, IA Gorlach, Development of a Controller for a Reconfigurable Manufacturing Cell, Recent Advances in Telecommunications & Circuits: 2nd International Conference on Circuits, Systems, Communications, Computers and Applications (CSCCA ’13), Dubrovnik, Croatia. 2013.
D Barth (NMMU), IA Gorlach (NMMU), G Gruhler (Reutlingen), Modelling of a Thermal Spraying Controller Using Matlab/Simulink, International Conference on Systems, Control and Informatics (SCI 2013), Venice, Italy. 2013.
M Simpson, IA Gorlach, MC du Plessis, Enhancing the Accuracy of a CNC Machine using Artificial Neural Networks, International Conference on Competitive Manufacturing, Coma’13, South Africa, Stellenbosch. 2013.
T Light,  IA Gorlach, Alexander Schönberg, Robert Schmitt, Application of a Camera for Robot Position Accuracy, International Conference on Competitive Manufacturing, Coma’13, South Africa, Stellenbosch. 2013.
AR NORMAN, A SCHĂ–NBERG, IA GORLACH, R SCHMITT, Validation of iGPS as an external measurement system for cooperative robot positioning, The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, Vol. 64, No 1. 2012
O Wessel, IA Gorlach, Automation or De-Automation. Current Themes in Engineering Science 2007. Selected Presentations at the World Congress on Engineering -2007. American Institute of Physics, Melville, New York, 2008. ISBN 978-0-7354-0573-8.