(c) Neil Holmes - offshorewind

Aura CDT & Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy: Blade Factory Digital Twin for Recording and Analysing Production Parameters


Funded PG Dip and PhD


4 years (full-time)

Application deadline:

Sunday 24 January 2021

About this project

The UK is committed to the use of offshore wind energy to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The EPSRC-NERC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Offshore Wind Energy and the Environment will enable delivery of this target by developing environmental engineering solutions to key offshore wind sector challenges; thereby supporting a sustainable energy supply. In partnership with Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE), a 4-year taught and research industry-sponsored Aura CDT PhD is offered. The PhD directly addresses sector needs to understand the application of digital twins to predict real world performance of turbine blades

Wind turbine blades are some of the largest composite structures currently manufactured and they are becoming larger and more sophisticated. Blades are manufactured in SGRE’s Hull facility through a number of complex manual and machine based processes. In order to monitor and improve these processes a digital twin of them is required. A digital twin is a digital representation of the processes and procedures within the manufacturing environment, displayed and modelled as close to real time as possible. As such, a digital twin is a very powerful tool which can be used to combine the many and complex data streams inside the factory environment into a single simulation; from that simulation, data can then be monitored to help improve machine or process efficiencies, reduce safety risks, and make other general improvements.

Working with SGRE, the largest manufacturer of offshore wind turbines, you will investigate the end-to-end production process inside the Hull factory environment and identify the key aspects and data models that are needed to create the type of simulation that is desired. The work is supported by SGRE and will involve close collaboration with SGRE colleagues in the UK and Denmark.

The project aims are:

  • Identify all relevant parameters affecting the blade manufacturing process and further identify which of these could contribute to the digital twin simulation.
  • Explore how to digitalise the data collection infrastructure of the manufacturing process while considering the connectivity of machinery and edge devices that might have a wide range capability when it comes to ‘built in connectivity’.

  • A clear end to end process and storage map that would show what is required for a digital twin. This is in terms of both technical requirements and in process terms.

  • Create a digital twin along-side our plant simulation team, adding value in module development from the identified issues.

  • Develop techniques to analyse data to establish any correlations between specific parameters and known defects and implement inside the created digital twin.

  • Storage and future applications of ‘as-built’ blade digital twins considering client-side storage and rendering in a real manufacturing environment.

  • Understand and identify creative ways to display complex data in a simple way that makes intuitive sense.

The post is available from September 2020 as a full-time position. You will join Cohort 2 of the Aura CDT in Hull, in the heart of the UK’s Energy Estuary – the global centre for research, innovation and development for the sector. Initially, you will study for a Postgraduate Diploma in Offshore Wind Energy and the Environment, followed by a 3-year PhD in Sheffield supported by Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy.

Find out more through our webinar

Click here to watch a recording of our recent free webinar about funded postgraduate research at the Aura CDT. You'll hear from programme leaders, supervisors, and students and listen to queries from other applicants in the Q&A.

For more information visit auracdt.hull.ac.uk


Apply now

To apply for this Aura CDT / ORE Catapult PhD Scholarship, please complete the online form accessed from the links below (please ensure you choose the appropriate link for full-time or part-time study):

Apply here for a full-time place on the Blade Factory Digital Twin for Recording and Analysing Production Parameters 

Apply here for a part-time place on the Blade Factory Digital Twin for Recording and Analysing Production Parameters 

For further advice on making an application, please see the Aura CDT website

The University's Postgraduate Training Scheme (PGTS) provides a range of generic and discipline-specific modules to support research students through their programme.

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The library has an exclusive lounge for postgraduate research students and a dedicated Skills Team to provide a wide range of study and research skills help. 

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The Doctoral College provides support to postgraduate research students. Offering skills development opportunities and dedicated facilities, the college is here to help you achieve your potential. 

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This full-time ORE Catapult PhD Scholarship will include fees at the ‘Home' student rate and maintenance (£15,560 per annum, 2021/22 rate) for four years, depending on satisfactory progress.

Entry requirements

We would like to hear from candidates with a First-class Honours degree or a 2:1 Honours degree and a Masters (or the international equivalents) in Mechanical or Chemical Engineering, Computer Science or related disciplines with experience of modelling mechanical systems and/or manufacturing processes.

If your first language is not English you will be required to provide evidence of your English language proficiency level that meets the requirements of the Aura CDT’s academic partners. This course requires academic IELTS 7.0 overall, with no less than 6.0 in each skill.

Please contact auracdt@hull.ac.uk for further guidance or questions. 

How to Apply

Please apply online which enables you to track the progress of your application and upload supporting documents. 

Apply here for a full-time place on Blade Factory Digital Twin for Recording and Analysing Production Parameters

Apply here for a part-time place on Blade Factory Digital Twin for Recording and Analysing Production Parameters 

With your application, you need to upload copies of the following supporting evidence:

  • complete transcripts (and final degree certificate(s) where possible). If your qualification documents are not in English, you will need to supply copies of your original language documents as well as their official translation into English.
  • current Curriculum Vitae.
  • personal statement (please see guidance below on what you need to include in your statement).

Guidance on completing your personal statement

Your personal statement should be around 2 pages long. In your statement you should highlight:

  • your interest in the Aura CDT and the research proposal and how it fits with your career aspirations
  • how your previous study links with the Aura CDT and the research proposal
  • why you have an interest in offshore wind and the environment, particularly if your background is in an academic discipline not included in the list above
  • relevant work experience or other experience relevant to the Aura CDT
  • anything else you would like to tell us about yourself that makes you a great candidate.

Please also describe:

  • any relevant research experience (such as a project completed during a previous degree)
  • any academic work you have published or which is awaiting publication including venue/s
  • why you believe you are the best candidate to study with the Aura CDT.

International students must tell us about all prior UK study (whether completed/passed or not, including any short courses).