PDEng position: The Challenge of Automation (Robotics) in a Veal Production Plant

PDEng position: The Challenge of Automation (Robotics) in a Veal Production Plant

Published Deadline Location
21 Oct 30 Oct Enschede

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Job description

Are you passionate about high-end technological design? Do you want to continue developing your skills with a combination of education and work?
The Professional Doctorate in Engineering (PDEng) programme Robotics offers you a 2-year position combining post MSc education and a design project to be carried out at VanDrie Group.

The educational programme, carried out at the University of Twente, will have an in-depth and broadening character with ample attention for professional development and will be partly tailored to the design project. In collaboration with VanDrie Group you will work on high level, creative new designs for complex issues. The goal of the VanDrie Group is that their current production line will be analyzed so they will get insight into the future opportunities and challenges related to automation of that line.

The project – The Challenge of Automation (Robotics) in a Veal Production Plant
Processing of veal meat is a labor intensive process requiring skilled staff. As is the case within many industry branches, skilled labor is hard to find while the success of the process depends on their availability and efficient application. Automation of tasks throughout the company is seen as one of the solutions to overcome the pitfalls of the scarcity of labor. Two aspects hinder the easy implementation of automation in veal production. Veal production is a niche market. This is the reason why only few of the standard automation solutions that have already tackled major automation challenges are available. Furthermore, calves coming in to the production site show large variations on size, weight and breed. An automation solution is required that is able to deal with these variations efficiently.

In this project you will first focus on analyzing the current production line. You will do so by describing the individual production steps and estimating their relative contribution to production effort. Furthermore, the suitability for automation has to be assessed. Based on these two evaluations, production steps which are most suitable for automation and have a large impact on production traits as described earlier, are the first candidates for automation. In cooperation with the VanDrie Group one of these candidates will be selected and an automation solution will be designed and validated.

The PDEng project will focus on obtaining the following results:

  • A model to evaluate production effort versus automation suitability. It will be used within the project but should also be available and usable after the completion of the project.
  • An evaluation of a current production line (line to be chosen by VanDrie Group) with the focus on identification of easy first steps (low hanging fruit) and hard bottlenecks.
  • The design of an automation solution for one/two of the suitable steps in the production line.
  • The construction and evaluation of a prototype of the automation solution.


University of Twente (UT)


  • You hold a MSc degree in:
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Electrical engineering with a focus on robotics
    • Other technical master programs with a focus on production and/or robotics
  • You have demonstrated affinity with design and multidisciplinary assignments;
  • You have a passion for finding solutions for complex issues;
  • You have excellent collaboration and communication skills;
  • You are self-starting and self-motivating, willing to take initiatives and feel the responsibility for your own project.

Applicants with a non-Dutch qualification and who have not had secondary and tertiary education in English can only be admitted with an IELTS-test showing a total band score of at least 6.5, internet TOEFL test (TOEFL-iBT) showing a score of at least 90, or a Cambridge CAE-C (CPE).

Conditions of employment

We offer a very challenging position at VanDrie Group for two years in an inspiring multidisciplinary and international environment. A salary, holiday allowance, solid pension scheme and 24 holidays a year are offered. In these 2 years we will provide you with a tailor made post-master design programme that has an educational component (~50%) as well as a design project (~50%).

On successfully completing the programme, you will receive a certified degree. You will be entitled to use the academic degree PDEng and will be registered as a Technological Designer in the Dutch register kept by the Royal Institution of Engineers in the Netherlands (KIVI).


The VanDrie Group is world market leader in veal production. It is a family owned company with activities throughout the entire production chain from veal farming, feed production to meat production. They have locations in The Netherlands, France, Italy and Germany. The standards regarding Food Safety, Animal Welfare and sustainability are among the highest in the world. VanDrie Group is always looking for ways to become better, opportunities are plentiful.

The VanDrie Group sees (partial) automation of their production lines as an essential development goal for the future wellbeing of both their staff and company. Furthermore, the standardization that is required for automation could result in benefits like improved food safety, animal welfare and worker health improvement. The entire production line consists of many production steps, all more, or to a lesser extent, suitable for automation.

A strong and ambitious team is ready to welcome you to the company and to assist you in realizing your goals.


  • PhD
  • Engineering; Agriculture
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • max. €2750 per month
  • University graduate
  • 2020-81


University of Twente (UT)

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Drienerlolaan 5, 7522 NB, Enschede

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