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The 3rd International Conference on

Emerging Trends in Electrical, Electronic and Communications Engineering
Workshop - "Fascination with Systems Engineering”


The purpose of this workshop is to raise awareness around the application of systems engineering in multiple industries. It is cross cutting and has several interfaces with traditional electrical, electronic and communications engineering and many of the topics in the list on the ELECOM 2018 conference page.  Participants of this workshop from both academia and industry will benefit from the wide experience of the presenters and the real-life applications in major industries.


Bridging the Skills Gap for Industry 4.0


Beatrys Lacquet and Nic Cloete-Hopkins


Wits Transnet Centre of Systems Engineering,

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa




The fourth industrial revolution is upon us. Because this phase of economic and technological development is flowing from the third industrial revolution – the digital evolution, it may not be fully visible or recognised in all domains of our society at present. Increasingly, science fiction as we experienced and revered it, is becoming science fact. We have a choice to fear it, or to embrace it!


Whereas the first industrial revolution, a term coined in circa 1884, swopped animal power with water and steam power to mechanise production, the second used the recently introduced electric power to mass produce products to drive the economies. The natural successor since the middle of the previous century, the third industrial revolution, was associated with the automation of production using electronics and information technology. Now, a fourth industrial revolution is building on the third. This new wave is characterised by a fusion of many technologies to create exciting new and innovative products and services. The fourth industrial revolution will empower billions of people to connect through mobile devices that have almost unlimited processing power and  storage capacity, and access to knowledge. And, these possibilities will be amplified by technology breakthroughs that will emerge in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D/4-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing. Physical, digital and biological paradigms will fuse and the societal fabric of our times will change in ways that were previously only imagined in science fiction.


The question arises who will create this new world. Our view of the place of work and the nature of ‘jobs’ will soon be outdated and as stated by Sugate Mitra in 2013, “In the future, no one will pay you for knowledge they can look up”. We have to prepare young people and upskill encumbents for jobs that do not exist yet, and for flexible ways of working.


A bigger question is how do we predict the required skills and knowledge base and develop the new generation to deliver on the expectations of products and services for a very different and mostly unknown world in the fourth industrial revolution. This industrial age will evolve exponentially and involve the transformation of complete multidimentional and different systems, across various countries, economic sectors, and society in its entirety, into highly complex and interconnected systems.


We will present our current thinking on systems methodologies to predict skills gaps that may arise in this industrial age. A few scenarios will be considered and proposals presented to bridge the skills gaps. We will also share some thoughts on a new systems oriented education and training paradigm.

Why Engineering and Systems Development Projects Fail


Paul M. Bester



Wits Transnet Centre of Systems Engineering,

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


There are numerous reports of engineering- and systems development projects, both small and macro-projects, that have “failed”. “A failed project can be defined as a project which delivered outcomes and behaviours which did not comply with the stakeholders’ requirements” (Buede 2009).

The purpose of this paper is to investigate and report on why engineering projects have failed, also taking into account human and organisational issues. The paper explores some highly published “failed” projects and considers the effects of such project failures.

Ten identified reasons for these project failures are explored with the primary reasons being an underestimation of the complexity of the project and secondly, a lack of control over the requirements and scope of the project.

The paper further explores the human, cultural and organisational issues that affects project success and also addresses possible project risk mitigation practices.

Systems Engineering (SE) is an approach that provides projects with a higher chance of being successful, as SE is about the reduction of projects’ risk and aim to achieve a shared understanding of the context and contents of complex projects. Core to the practice of SE is the focus on managing project requirements. The Systems Engineering Management Plan (SEMP) is the Systems Engineering management tool for managing the scope of the project. Apart from defining the System of Interest (SOI), its boundaries, its context system, environment and external interfaces, the SEMP also addresses the speciality engineering elements required by the project, as well as the required logistics engineering deliverables for the desired system.

System Engineering Methodology –

Towards Successful Projects Management

Letlotlo Phohole


Wits Transnet Centre of Systems Engineering,

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa



The transport logistics sector is characterised by stovepipe (silo-engineered) projects that run into significant challenges during integration, verification and validation, transitioning into operation, and client acceptance. This presents a significant risk of project delays, necessitates rework resulting in cost increases, unsatisfied stakeholders, and consequently reflects poorly on the performance of the project manager and the responsible organization.

Although most projects are run using project management principles project failures still occur. Also, with the current adoption of Industry 4.0 strategies by organisations, more complex projects need to be executed and this could subsequently lead to more failed projects.


The Project Management Institute, Inc. (PMI) holds that all organizations perform two kinds of work: operational work and projects. Due to the repetitive nature of operational work, it is easier to systematise processes. However, because projects have finite start and end dates, are unique in nature, and involve mixed team players, they are more difficult to systematise and to develop sound methodologies and processes for.


This paper focuses on the importance and influence of integrated project management and requirements management for the execution of successful projects. The paper is based on the premise that while there are several reasons why projects fail, poorly elicited, documented, validated and managed needs and requirements contribute grossly to project failure.


The aim of this paper is to synthesise the known theory and practices of project management and requirements management in the context of Industry 4.0, and to investigate the required changes that will result in a meaningful system engineering methodology.

Application of Human Factors in a Port Socio-technical System


Jessica Hutchings


Wits Transnet Centre of Systems Engineering,

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa



Human Factors is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of the interactions among humans and other elements of a system (IEA, 2018). It is the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance (IEA, 2018). As a discipline and profession, the objective of this science is to provide a multidisciplinary approach to the design of any system, task, equipment, technology and process. The human element is the key focus. The application of Human Factors is to ensure a fit between the person and their environment, where the task, environment or equipment must be adapted to fit the capabilities and limitations of people rather than the other way around. Failure to do this can result in the risk of forcing people to operate in unsuitable conditions and use poorly designed equipment. Vincente (2004) states that when a fit is achieved that technology is more likely to fulfil its intended purpose. A better designed workplace, task and environment has benefits for individuals (improved well-being and safety) and employers (improved work performance and efficiency).


Traditionally Human Factors has been seen to be synonymous with human error, a wrong assumption. This thought, especially in accident investigations, leads to the conclusion that the interventions should be directed towards improving the human operator (e.g. more training, procedures, punishment, disciplinary action etc.) but often the problem is not related to the specific individual. Rather it is factors inherent within the system that contributed to such events. Human Factors can contribute towards achieving a safe system by understanding the system, and how the system succeeds (by implication is safe). 


One such way of doing this is by adopting a socio-technical systems approach. This method offers a more holistic systematic approach. There is a need in the application of Human Factors and safety to focus on the integration of people and technology, and understanding the relationships between these. A socio-technical systems approach in accident analysis sees a system as a set of interrelated elements that function as a unit intended for a specific purpose (Rita-Grech, Horberry, Koester, 2008). The individual, organization, technology and social system are analyzed where instead system error is identified. This highlights the deeper issues that are responsible for the state of the system rather than human error which is an effect or symptom of these.


This paper will explore the discipline and profession of Human Factors, and illustrates how a more systematic approach, the socio-technical system viewpoint, is favoured in understanding the interactions within a system that influence its performance. The outcome is to ensure that the system as a whole operates within a safe boundary. By way of example, a port and its operations in the maritime domain are discussed to illustrate this new way of thinking.  

The Utility of System Dynamics in Discipline-Specific Applications –

Examples from the World of Medicine and Public Health


David M. Rubin


Biomedical Engineering Research Group, School of Electrical and Information Engineering,

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa




System Dynamics, originally developed at MIT to address business and social phenomena, is a powerful and versatile tool which facilitates rapid modeling in a wide range of disciplines. The development of models in system dynamics through the stock/flow (level/rate) nomenclature is equivalent to modeling dynamic behaviour as a set of coupled first-order differential equations. This, combined with the highly intuitive, graphical interface of modern system dynamics software tools, provides an environment in which discipline-specific experts with minimal or no advanced training in systems modeling can develop and explore models of high complexity and non-linearity.

Medicine and public health are examples of professional domains in which practitioners often lack advanced training in systems, thus conferring particular utility to system dynamics as a powerful tool in these disciplines. Examples of the use of system dynamics will be shown using a wide variety of medical and public health models, both new and literature-based. These will cover applications ranging from physiology and pharmacology to chronic disease management and alcohol consumption. Aspects of system dynamics will be highlighted and the behaviour of the selected models will be shown.

Finally, an existing published mathematical model of a Chikungunya virus epidemic on Reunion Island will be discussed and it will be shown how this can easily be translated into a System Dynamics model without loss of insight into the mechanistic aspects of the epidemic. The model will be simulated for a variety of parameters to demonstrate the ease of use and versatility of system dynamics tools for non-expert modelers.

Control Theory and System Dynamics Simulations of Electric Vehicle Market Penetration in South Africa

Nalini Pillay*1, Alan Brent2 and Josephine Musango3


1Eskom SOC, Research Testing & Development, Cleveland, South Africa

2,3Department of Industrial Engineering, Stellenbosch University, South Africa




Economic development shares interdependence with energy investment, a complex interaction of systems. Thus, advanced modelling tools are required to support the development of strategic integrated energy plans, inclusive of the technological complexities in the electricity value chain. This paper looks at a system dynamics modelling approach with elements of control theory to determine the impact of the electric vehicle (EV) technology market penetration on the electricity demand profile and the related environmental impact in the energy and transport sectors in South Africa. Results indicate that the approach provided a robust framework in which to design the model and conduct sensitivity analyses of additional EVs entering the system due to the feedback loops inherent in the system structure.    

Big Data Innovation and the Application of Standards for Business Resiliency in the Financial Services Industry in the Journey into the Future Industrial Revolutions


Caroline Herron and Nic Cloete-Hopkins


Wits Transnet Centre of Systems Engineering,

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa




In the next ten years consumer behaviour will significantly change. Children born after 1990 are entering tertiary education and by 2020 will make up 47% of the global population. This generation is connected 24/7 and will have different expectations of banking products and services. As digital natives they will be focused on getting the best deal instantaneously. Together with an increasing demand for digital products and services in the banking industry, regulators play an important role in ensuring that banks adequately manage their risks.  Globally regulatory pressures are increasing with the result that investment in enterprise risk management programs has doubled in the last ten years. The way traditional banks respond to these two factors will determine their ability to compete with digital banks of the future.


Business resiliency in the financial services industry has become critically important with more data and information required to support decision making in real time using predictive modelling and analytics underpinned with artificial intelligence and machine learning. The application of Systems Thinking to Business Continuity Management systems using Big Data as an asset can significantly enhance the responsiveness of banks to realise a full stack business model that is resilient enough to survive in future industrial revolutions.


“The ISO22301 standard specifies the requirements to plan, establish, implement, operate, monitor, review, maintain and continually improve a documented management system to protect against, reduce the likelihood of occurrence, prepare for and respond to, and recover from disruptive incidents as they arise.” The operating model of the bank of the future will be increasingly influenced by threats in the digital ecosystem. Technology convergence, the increased usage of robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning will enable competitors to develop and deploy highly personalised and flexible product and services to clients in increasingly shorter timeframes. Other threats, including cyber-attacks, cryptocurrencies and disintermediation, all need to be catered for in contingency and crisis management plans. 


Globally, banks must honour their regulatory obligations including compliance to GDPR, Basel, POPI and the Data Protection Act. The management of these regulatory requirements and digital risk, are all important elements that must be considered in the design of a business continuity management system for banks of the future.


Through the successful implementation and operation of a Business Continuity System underpinned by managed data and information, banks can not only meet regulatory obligations, but can also gain significant advantage through a coordinated response to disruption in the industry.


Systems thinking and the adoption of the ISO15288 provides a framework by which banks can achieve a competitive business model with sound processes and operating practices.


This paper will provide a Big Data Systems Framework for a Business Continuity System in the context of financial services that can be used in conjunction with the ISO22301 Good Practice Guide.

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