(c) Neil Holmes - offshorewind


Human Factors in Operations and Maintenance

About this project

The UK is leading the world in the deployment of offshore wind energy and Hull is at the centre of the industry, with the largest companies in the sector based in the region (Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and Ørsted). The University of Hull is working with these companies and other leading organisations to support the development of the industry through Aura.

The rapid development of the offshore wind (OSW) industry in UK waters has opened up many challenges and opportunities for research and innovation.

The rapid development of the offshore wind (OSW) industry in UK waters has opened up many challenges and opportunities for research and innovation. This is particularly true of Operations and Maintenance (O&M) where novel approaches are required, and where many innovation opportunities exist. O&M accounts for 20-30% of the lifetime cost of electricity generated from OSW and is a priority within the Industrial Strategy Green Paper and for funding agencies. To exploit these opportunities for research funding, the University of Hull has recently agreed with the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (OREC) to establish a joint Offshore Wind Operations and Maintenance Centre of Excellence (O&M CE) with the purpose of supporting innovation to help reduce the lifetime cost of electricity and promote the UK supply chain. The Centre of Excellence will develop a portfolio of activities ranging from early stage research to nearer market development based around a series of roadmaps developed in collaboration with the OSW industry. Through discussion with OREC, six areas of focus have been identified: Human free O&M, Human factors in O&M, Data driven O&M decision making, Offshore logistics, planning and risk, Lifetime asset management and Whole life supply chain modelling. The recently awarded PhD cluster of 4 scholarships will conduct early stage research addressing these six priority areas, which will feed a pipeline of innovation that ensures the long term sustainability of the Centre of Excellence.

The successful candidate will be based in the appropriate academic school but will benefit from opportunities to collaborate with AURA, the O&M CE, and both of the Energy and Environment and the Logistics Institutes.

Human Factors in Operations and Maintenance

There are a number of studies that provide insight into the effects of work in Offshore Wind (OSW) on the human technician: transit, transfer, climbing, fatigue, shift-work, etc. There are also technological innovations to alleviate these, such as Service Operation Vessels, climbing assists, transfer vessels types, autonomous vehicles etc. This PhD will review the cumulative and combined effects of OSW work on humans, possible mitigations of these effects through innovations (and future innovations that are expected), the range of tasks and feasible maintenance/inspection policies, to develop an integrated system model of the effect on the human and thus the human-factors effect on maintenance/inspection, and the mitigation of technological solutions. The aim of this would be to build into a decision tool to help determine the most appropriate ways to manage maintenance and inspection, taking account of human-factors. 



If you have any queries, please email contact Prof Terry Williams or Dr Fiona Earle.

Next steps


To celebrate the University's research successes, the University of Hull is offering a full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarship or International Fees Bursary.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have an appropriate first degree and an understanding of psychological ideas and humans within engineering systems, and of decision-support.

Applicants should have excellent programming skills and at least a 2:1 degree in Computer Science or a related discipline. Previous experience of one or more of the following areas is highly desirable: machine/deep learning, high performance computing or data analytics.

How to apply

Applications for scholarship consideration at the University of Hull should be made through the Postgraduate Application system.

On the second page of your application, please select “Graduate Scholarship” as the type of scholarship you are applying for. 

Applicants are strongly encouraged to first identify and contact a potential supervisor.

Application deadline: Monday 19 February