25 Years of DIAL

DIAL started out as the Manufacturing Automation & Control Systems Group (MACSG) in late 1995 with three people, became the Centre for Distributed Automation & Control (CDAC) in 2002 and finally settled on Distributed Information & Automation Laboratory (DIAL) in 2006… mainly because of the acronym! The focus on distributed systems was largely driven by the evolution of the role the internet began to play in automation & information systems, and also the work the group was doing on distributed algorithms and protocols.

The flow diagrams tries to capture some of the developments DIAL has been involved in since 1995. The five phases described are – in reality – not as neatly deliniated as the diagram implies. But they do indicate that from an initial focus that was exclusively production-focused, the work of DIAL has evolved into encompassing logistics, supply chains, construction (as manufacturing), services – especially most recently healthcare. Meanwhile as DIAL has expanded to a centre of 30-40 people the range of tools and methods has grown too. DIAL’s six current themes reflect this expansion.


However the original guiding principles remain more or less intact…
·       Focusing on industrially motivated automation & information problems and issues
·       Bridging the gaps between academic development and industrial need
·       Examining the resilience of systems and operations in the face of change and disruption
·       Making the best use of available information
·       Keeping automation simple

With luck this will continue to underpin DIAL for the next 25 years…


Date published

30 April 2021

For further information please contact:

Duncan McFarlane

E: dial-admin@eng.cam.ac.uk

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