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A genetic algorithm for optimal tuning of a linear controller is presented. This method is applied to the networked control of a high-performance drilling process, a class of complex electromechanical process. A multi-objective optimisation criterion is presented for maximizing the tool's working life and the material removal rate. A modified mutation operator is implemented to carry out the search among P, PI, PD andPID controllers simultaneously in an efficient way. Simulations and real experiments with the resulting controllers are presented. The results corroborate the advantage of the proposed strategy with regard to a classic optimisation technique.