From designing the household Jaffle maker back in 1977 to developing a new body of knowledge in engineering systems, acquisition and support.
Professor John Mo, Professor of Manufacturing Engineering, School of Engineering
Professor Mo’s primary area of research is in manufacturing systems, enterprise modelling and industrial automation.
During his career Professor John Mo has led several large scale international projects involving multi-disciplinary teams in the development of advanced project collaboration systems for designing one-off facilities such as chemical plants and high value computer controlled assets.
"Automation in manufacturing covers every imaginable product and maintaining the systems that create and service these products is a key focus for my research," he says.
"Just look at the design and operation of complex assets such as an aircraft or a frigate which requires substantial planning and flexible delivery of services and logistics support.
"Apart from maintenance, many other factors are governing the operations of each particular asset.
"As each asset becomes more sophisticated, a properly designed support system in the form of customer support centres, information infrastructure, human resource management, multi-disciplinary engineering teams, supply chains, distribution networks, and so on, becomes vital to achieving customer satisfaction and continuous business.
"The companies we work with run sophisticated machines. You could say it is like working behind the scene when the equipment is being used by the customer; where we look at the symptoms and check the machine’s pulse and heartbeat.
"An example is a plasma-cutting machine. We look at the motions and how this machine should behave. From there we put in some signal processing and diagnostics and design a way to extract a pattern to identify why it is not producing the quality product the customer wants.
"Very often, the main aspect of my research is to adapt an established system to new requirements. Designing the original system is one thing but once you put it into practice there are a lot of other changes, factors that come into play and you have to look at how to quantify those changes so that you can make the transition seamlessly.
"When you manufacture a new car for example, the car is expected to drive on a sealed road but what if the road infrastructure is not up to expectation. So how do you make allowances for variations in usage and create better systems for diagnosis and planned repairs caused by constantly changing conditions?"
Mo’s research encompasses a broad range of systems so it’s next to impossible to generalize a service system for all complex engineering products.
"In essence, the need to remain competitive drives the research to develop innovative products and processes that are specific to individual customer's requirements, completely packaged and made available globally, and ensures that companies make best use of resources within the defined constraints.
"Each product design is different; even the usage of the product can be different from what it was originally designed for. The working principles for each system are completely different… at the moment."
Mo is aiming to establish a scientific basis for the yet ‘unknown’ common characteristic each system shares and hopes to discover it soon.
"So far there is no ‘one rule’ that applies to everyone. That unknown common characteristic will have to reflect the performance of each system but that characteristic is innominable."
Mo has been at RMIT for 9 years and has established successful collaborative networks across the disciplines.
"The environment fits me really well. I’m driven to improve the life of people. I’d call myself an engineer more than a scientist and as an engineer you try to find ways to improve living conditions and advancing society. I do believe that is my mission. That’s my drive and I like doing it at RMIT."