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What is the International Research Project?

The foundation ‘Stichting Study Tour Industria (SSTI) annually organizes the International Research Project. This project is an initiative of students of the School of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences the Eindhoven University of Technology. Students of the Master Programs ‘Innovation Management’, ‘Operations Management & Logistics, ‘Business Information Systems’ and ‘Manufacturing Systems Engineering’ are allowed to participate.

The International Research Project (IRP) is a research project in which 22 Industrial Engineering students conduct research in the Netherlands, based on a predetermined theme. Afterwards the students will go on a study trip to the USA and Mexico, organized around that same theme. This year’s theme is Intelligent Automation; Innovating towards a new industrial era.

The aim of the International Research Project is to provide students with the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge about a subject of research that suits their interests and education. In addition, the IRP enables students to learn about different cultures and to acquire international experience.


The organization of the International Research Project 2016 is in hands of the following executive committee:



Niels Hovens
Coordinator External Relations & Program

Tim d’Hondt

Koen Pijnappels
Coordinator Contract Research

Jef van den Buijs
Coordinator Culture, Accommodation & Transportation

Sebastiaan Keijsers
Financial Manager




Intelligent Automation: Innovating towards a new industrial era

We are at the brink of the 4th industrial revolution; a transformation of the industry into cyber-physical systems; blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres. Rapidly developing artificial intelligence technologies enable businesses to use smarter and more integrated automation, and fundamentally change the traditional ways of operating. In the near future, machines will be able to analyze information from other automated parts in the production line and make adjustments to their activities, no longer needing human input and resulting in a production hall that can run autonomously for months without human interference being mandatory. This implementation of artificial intelligence in business processes, creating smart automated systems where all parts are connected and able to make decisions based on (real-time) information, is called intelligent automation. Through new technologies like Machine Learning or Natural Language Processing, business activities like customer service can now be automated. This will improve the efficiency dramatically as a computer costs much less than an employers’ wage and it is available 24/7.

It may seem as if humans are simply being replaced by machines, but the only thing that changes is the role of humans in the production process. Where machines take over some roles and jobs from humans, new jobs, knowledge and skills emerge that have to be filled in in order to make this new cyber-physical system work. Humans will be more focused on the programming, calibrating and maintenance of automated processes.

“Intelligent automation will enable enterprises to innovate and evolve by increasing their agility, reducing the complexity of systems and operations, accelerating their time to market, and creating the ability to experiment continually with new products and services.”(Accenture, 2016)

As stressed by Delloite (2015) and Accenture (2016), intelligent automation is not an option, it’s mandatory. It will stretch the boundaries of a company’s ability to innovate and reposition in the market, increasing its competitiveness. The challenge lies in the capability of a company to reorganize its resources and integrate the new technologies into its business process in order to maximize their impact. This is the part our research project will focus on.

Impact on different stakeholders

Intelligent automation can be applied to a wide range of industries, as not only actual production halls, but also information analysis can be automated through new technologies like Machine Learning, as is seen in the big data trend. All stakeholders of a company will be affected by it, changing our ways of working, communicating and reasoning.



As seen before, intelligent automation will introduce new job roles for employees. Their roles will be more focused on programming or installing automated systems, instead of manually controlling it.  With new roles and jobs also come new skills, which means the education and training of employees has to be revised. Also, with the introduction of robots and AI into the workforce, we will find situations where machines and humans work alongside one another in production halls, which can be quite dangerous. This calls for new models that make environments and infrastructures that reduce risks on injuries and guarantee employees’ safety.


For consumers, the communication between a company and a customer changes. AI platforms like Amelia automate customer service via Speakingbot that is able to answer customers’ questions in more than 20 languages. This will change the communication and relation between customer and company. It is important that automation of this communication does not go at the expense of personal attention for a customer.
However, through Intelligent Automation it is also possible to personalize certain products to a customer’s needs in an efficient way.  For instance, UBS Group AG2, a Swiss bank, uses AI technologies to model individuals’ behavioural patterns and build a profile for each customer showing potential match-ups with different types of health management products.


Through automated analysis of data it is possible for entrepreneurs to make decisions faster and more reliable. Machine Learning technologies are used to discover patterns in the still heavily increasing amount of data that is available to a company nowadays. These patterns are used to make predictions about the market, sales, inventory management and give a manager real-time reliable data to base decisions on.


New technologies bring new opportunities, but also new problems. With computers and machines taking over human tasks, a number of societal problems rise. Will there still be enough jobs for everyone? How reliable are these machines? How much autonomy and decision rights can we assign to Artificial Intelligence? These questions about ethics and safety cannot be neglected and must be addressed now, as we are on the doorstep of a world where man and machine live side to side and thus rules about society and commune have to be made or revisited.

Our research will look into how companies can optimally integrate these new technologies and how all these stakeholders can receive as much benefit from it as possible.

“The companies that will grow and dominate their industries will be those that systematically embrace automation across their organizations, using it to drive the changes to their products, services, and even business models as they continue to transform themselves and their industry.” (Accenture, 2016)


This year the International Research Project will head to Mexico and the USA. The study tour starts with the three major Texan cities: Dallas, Austin and Houston. From Houston we will travel to Mexico, where technology epicentre Guadalajara will be the first stop, after which metropolis Mexico City will be visited. During the study tour several visits to companies that have a connection to the theme Intelligent Automation will take place. Also several universities will be visited, and a visit to the Dutch embassy in Mexico has been scheduled.

The goal of the study tour is to explore and document the applications and possibilities of Intelligent Automation in a corporate and academic environment in Mexico and the USA. By discussing the topic with employees of manufacturing plants, company headquarters, universities, and official country representation offices, we want to gain extensive knowledge on Intelligent Automation.

Once this knowledge has been obtained, we can use it to complement the research findings of the project we conducted in the Netherlands.


Research projects for companies

The participants of the IRP conduct research projects for firms. This research will take place in the Netherlands from December 2016 to June 2017. The IRP allows your company to benefit from the expertise of the students of Industrial Engineering and their professors. Research projects regarding the theme of this year’s IRP, Intelligent Automation, can provide the students with more insights into the theme. However, if a company faces any unfulfilled research need in the field of Industrial Engineering, the IRP provides an opportunity to get this need fulfilled. For any questions, please send an e-mail to

For more information, the brochure can be downloaded below:



The students involved in this project are students of the Master’s program ‘Operations Management and Logistics’, ‘Innovation Management’, ‘Business Information Systems’, or ‘Manufacturing Systems Engineering’. All students have knowledge in Industrial Engineering, but also capabilities specific to their Master’s program. These capabilities will be discussed on the next page. The majority of the selected students completed their Bachelor of Industrial Engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology. Topics the students covered during their Bachelor’s program include accounting, goods flow management, human performance management, stock control, organization science and information systems. The students of Industrial Engineering are focused on making improvements in companies and are ready to apply the methods and tools they have learned during their courses. The study program at Eindhoven University of Technology regularly involves group assignments. These group assignments enable students to train their analytical skills, their social skills and their presentation and cooperation skills.

Operations Management and Logistics

Operations Management & Logistics is a multidisciplinary field that covers such
disciplines as supply chain management, manufacturing systems, information
systems, business process management, human performance management,
health care engineering, transportation, reliability engineering, maintenance, and
operational finance. The program trains student in quantitative analyses. In all
courses, the theory is related to existing research and students are shown how to
apply theory in practice. For example, an alternative design of a control concept for
a supply chain or a workflow process in an insurance company aree investigated.
They also learn how efficiency improvement or cost reduction can be obtained by
advanced concepts.

Innovation Management

Innovation Management studies the management of innovation processes and
develops theories, tools and techniques to make businesses more innovative.
Key aspects of this discipline are knowledge management, strategic alliances,
entrepreneurship, new product development, supplier partnerships, marketing
management, quality management and technology management. Students learn
how to use the knowledge that they gain in carrying out research into innovation
management and in industrial applications. They also learn how to analyze the
current innovative performance of a company, explain it in terms of quality, cost
and time, and improve this performance by re-engineering innovation processes.

Business Information Systems

Modern organizations such as banks, insurance companies, ministries, hospitals,
travel companies and webstores are critically dependent on their information
system: when it falters, all the other processes come to a standstill. This creates a
demand for experts who are able to face the challenges of both computer science
and industrial engineering. The Business Information Systems Master program
unites the competencies of the computer scientist and the industrial engineer.
Through a balanced selection of computer science and industrial engineering
courses, this program gives students a solid foundation to be able to design and
realize secure and reliable information systems. Students can specialize in one
of the four streams: business process management, healthcare, ICT services and

Manufacturing Systems Engineering

Because of digitization and automation, the manufacturing industry is now rapidly
changing. The whole chain of products, machines, factories, warehouses and
customers, or the Internet of Things, is able to share and exchange information. To
fully exploit this network of information for more effective and efficient production,
the Manufacturing Systems Engineering Master program provides students with
knowledge of the whole chain: from the technology inside the machine up to
the level of supply chains. The program offers this combination of technological
knowledge of high-tech production systems and knowledge of production
processes and supply chains, and shows how to apply this knowledge effectively
at both system and network level.


Sponsor the IRP

The International Research Project (IRP) cannot be financially independent. For this reason, we would appeal to companies to support our project in all possible ways. Companies can support the IRP financially, or in kind.
The IRP is an excellent opportunity for companies to get attention from students in the final phase of their study Industrial Engineering. In addition, the members of the IRP and their presence at various workshops, lectures and activities create a wide spread awareness of your company to all students and other companies.
For the above reasons, we would like you to support the IRP and therefore we have different opportunities that we would like to bring to your attention. If you are interested and you would like to support us: please contact or look into the attachment below!
Of course, you can always contact us for further questions or comments.

Sebastiaan Keijsers
Financial Manager IRP 2017

Sponsorbrochure IRP 2017


Board of Recommendation 2016:

The Board of Recommendation 2017 contains the following persons:

Drs. I. (Imke) Carsouw
Algemeen Directeur Brainport Development

Ir. S.A. (Simon) Bambach
CEO VDL Enabling Technologies Group F.P.T. (Frank) Baaijens
Rector Magnificus, Eindhoven University of Technology

Dr. J.L.L. (Jeroen) Schepers
Program Director of Master’s Program ‘Innovation Management’
Eindhoven University of Technology

dr. T. (Tarkan) Tan
Program Director of Master’s Program ‘Operations, Management & Logistics’, Eindhoven University of Technology

Prof. dr. ir. J.C. (Jan) Fransoo
Dean of TU/e Graduate School, Eindhoven University of Technology

Prof. dr. ir. P.W.P.J. (Paul) Grefen
Research Director School of Industrial Engineering

Prof. dr. ir. M. (Maarten) Steinbuch
Professor Control Systems Technology
Eindhoven University of Technology

Prof. dr. A. (Annemieke) Roobeek
Professor Strategy and Transformation Management
Nyenrode Business University

Previous IRPs

IRP 2016 – Outcome Economy
Japan & Singapore



Welcome at the website of the IRP 2017!

The International Research Project is a study tour combined with internationally oriented research projects for industrial engineering master students at the Eindhoven University of Technology.

This year’s theme is “Intelligent Automation: Innovating towards a new industrial era”. The destination will be USA and Mexico!