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PhD Studentship: Advanced Digital Twin Applications for Future Maintenance Optimisation

Cranfield University - Through-life Engineering Services Centre

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Cranfield
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £17,000 to £20,000 p/a tax free
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 9th August 2018
Closes: 30th September 2018
Reference: SATM0083

Application Deadline: 30th September 2018
Start Date: 1st October 2018
Eligibility: UK
Duration of award: 3 years
Ref: SATM0083
Supervisor: Dr John Erkoyuncu and Prof. Rajkumar Roy

This PhD is co-funded by the EPSRC Industrial CASE 2018 and BAE Systems. The PhD involves applied research within the context of defence marine industry and it will involve multi-disciplinary work in information systems, systems engineering, forecasting, modelling and simulation, maintenance, through-life engineering, software engineering. The research will extend the work on digital twins by developing algorithms that collects, analysis and distributes information for optimised efficiency and effectiveness in delivering through-life support solutions for complex engineered products such as ships and submarines. 

The development of computer modelling, simulations and connectivity between products and a digital twin (DT) introduces new and unique opportunities to elicit value for service and support through optimised decision making. The opportunities, risks and requirements of a digital twin are not fully understood in research literature, which makes this proposal relevant for further academic research. The key challenge and most significant benefit of the DT is realised by the combination, integration and analysis of data sources from across the product lifecycle and across difference levels from component to system of systems.

A Digital Twin (DT) could be used for predicting how a physical product behaves and performs in the future in a range of alternative scenarios and environments. The research fundamental for this PhD centres on developing the algorithms that will allow creation of the digital representation of the physical asset for a large variety of dynamic scenarios (e.g. operating conditions, maintenance interventions) within a maintenance context.

The student will use the cutting edge Advanced Visualisation Lab in the Through-life Engineering Services Centre at Cranfield to develop the Digital twin. The DT concept is applicable to all BAE Business Units and can offer new and brave applications in:

  1. Tailored maintenance delivered specific to a component serial number.
  2. Better informed decision making capability in the design stage to future-proof the implications of proactive maintenance actions.
  3. Just in Time (JIT) spares provisioning from the supplier reducing customer requirements to warehouse and administer spares, and reduced maintenance burden on spares with a ‘shelf life’.
  4. Potential to reduce costly range of test equipment, user manuals, spares, calibration requirements, and facilities.

Entry requirements:

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline such as computer science, mechanical engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, and industrial engineering.


To be eligible for this funding, applicants must be a UK national. We require that applicants are under no restrictions regarding how long they can stay in the UK i.e. have no visa restrictions or applicant has “settled status” and has been “ordinarily resident” in the UK for 3 years prior to start of studies and has not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. Due to funding restrictions all EU nationals are eligible to receive a fees-only award if they do not have “settled status” in the UK.

How to apply:

To apply please complete our online enquiry form and upload your CV.

For further information please contact:

Dr John Erkoyuncu

Department: School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing

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