Gibela Research Chair in manufacturing and skills development
Primary discipline: Industrial Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Manufacturing and Related Skills Development (2016 - 2021)
Prof Khumbulani Mpofu is the interim Gibela chair in manufacturing and skills development. He is an NRF rated researcher with unbridled passion for Industrial Engineering.
Prof Mpofu’s research career began in 2004 at the completion of a five year qualification with a design project that he carried out for his Bachelor of Engineering Honours degree in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. This project had both design elements and also an exploratory research aspects. In 2005, he received an offer to be a lecturer in a Bachelor of Technology programme, where he was responsible for computer related courses. He then enrolled for a postgraduate course which had a 50% research component.
During his Master’s studies he gained keen interest on the computer aspects of the manufacturing industry. He was also involved in a Cleaner Production project at the manufacturing site of an airport component production and maintenance unit.
He also pursued a research project in 2006, focusing on small to medium enterprise wood manufacturing companies and how they can reduce their environmental impact by collating their efforts with a clustering approach. Prof Mpofu enrolled for a Doctor of Technology in Mechanical Engineering at TUT in 2007, where he designed a Knowledge Based System for Reconfigurable Manufacturing. Between 2004 and 2011, Prof Mpofu was exposed to a range of other manufacturing challenges in; for example, manufacturing maintenance, importance of environmental conscious manufacturing, the advanced manufacturing technologies, from the mechanical, and control design to information system application in manufacturing.
Prof Mpofu has reviewed papers for various conferences including the CIRP Conference on Manufacturing Systems, CIRP Global Conference on Sustainable Manufacturing, Flexible Automation and Intelligent Manufacturing conference, Southern African Institute of Industrial Engineers Conference, Zimbabwe Institute of Engineers, International Conference on Appropriate Technology, Symposium on Mechatronics and Robotics, Botswana Institute of Engineers Conference, Conference on Mechatronics and Machine Vision, Hybrid and Intelligent Systems and the International Federation on Automatic Conference, CIRP Global Conference on Manufacturing. In 2008, he chaired the much acclaimed session at the International Conference on CADCAM and Robotics and Factories of the Future, he also participated in the CIRP General Assembly local organising committee in 2015 held in Cape Town, South Africa. He also serves on the CIRP Global Conference on Sustainable Manufacturing.
He has also reviewed numerous journals such as the Taylor and Francis Journal of Production Research, Elsevier Journal of Manufacturing Systems, the Emerald Design and Technology Journal, Engineering Optimization and the Proceedings of the Zimbabwe Institute of Engineers Journal. Currently, the Head of Department for the Industrial Engineering department, Prof Mpofu represented his faculty at the Research and Ethics Committee for a three year term and he spearheads the Innovative Design and Manufacturing research unit under the New Materials and Advanced Manufacturing niche area.
In addition to his many accolades, Prof Mpofu has received excellence awards at the institutional level as well as at the national level being one of the finalists in the DST awards for emerging researcher 2015. To date (2016), he has attracted in excess of R30 million corporately and individually for research activities. He has collaborators locally and internationally in France, Germany, Slovenia, Sweden, Slovenia, China and the United States of America. Until 2016, he had over 70 publications in conferences, journals and book chapters. Graduated two doctoral students and twelve masters students. Through his efforts and his team he, has registered 3 patents to date, which are at various stages for development for commercialisation.
Prof Mpofu’s field of expertise and research specialisation is Industrial Engineering with the focus on:
Skills development is a challenge in the South African landscape, further skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is a global problem. This chair will seek to be a catalyst in revitalising the rail commuter coach manufacturing focusing on engineering and the related sectors to propel rail as a preferred commuter transport mode. Technical skills, running of technical business and development of localised technologies will bring about a revamp of the contribution of manufacturing sector to the GDP and also result in sustainable employment and black owned Small, Micro & Medium Enterprise development.