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An integrated whole-life solution for modular housing using industry 4.0 technologies (Advert Reference: RDF20/EE/ABE/THURAIRAJAHNiraj)

Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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Assoc Prof Niraj Thurairajah No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Newcastle United Kingdom Data Analysis Manufacturing Engineering Other Other Other Other Other

About the Project

The UK faces a large undersupply of housing and it has been decades in the making. Coupled with the decline in housing supply is the ever-growing demand for housing which has magnified the housing crisis. Offsite manufacturing (OSM) and modular construction are seen

as parts of a broader spectrum of innovative contemporary techniques that can be used to bridge this gap. However, the current OSM business models are struggling to address this growing crisis.

Through this project, we propose a whole life solution that integrates digital, manufacturing, and business processes enabled by Industry 4.0 technologies to make OSM more attractive to manufactures and house buyers. Fundamental to this notion is transforming OSM and modular homes businesses from supplying modular homes to supplying homes and associated services. Boyd, et al. (2015) proposed ‘customers for life’ as the main driver for a digital revolution in housing, arguing for whole life maintenance and adaptation strategy from housebuilders. Through this ‘whole life solution business model’, manufacturers and housebuilders can take risks, responsibilities and associated profits of maintenance activities that are normally handled by homeowners. This requires a well-designed information framework that connects various industry 4.0 technologies to ensure the successful delivery and maintenance of the home throughout its life cycle. However, this means designing and manufacturing processes need to consider long term performance aspects including guarantees and warranties. This type of

servitization oriented business models is becoming ‘normal’ in other industries such as automotive and aerospace who are starting to offer ‘through-life management solutions’ to customers.

This project aims to use the systems approach to develop an integrated whole-life business solution for modular housing enabled by industry 4.0 technologies. This project is associated with Northumbria university’s research theme ‘Digital Living’ that explores more tailored housing solutions to address the economic, social and environmental needs of citizens.

This project is supervised by Dr. Niraj Thurairajah.

Please note eligibility requirement:

• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.

• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF20/EE/ABE/THURAIRAJAHNiraj) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 7 January 2021

Start Date: 1 March 2021

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home and International (including EU) Students) where a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2020/1, this is £15,285 pa) and full tuition fees.


• Thurairajah, N., Watson, R., Babelon, I. and Gangatheepan, S. (2020), Procuring Building Information: Developing a Framework for High Level Information Purposes in Employer Information Requirements. 36th Annual ARCOM conference. Glasgow
• Jayasena, S., Thurairajah, N., Perera, K. and Siriwardena, M. (2019) Promotion of Diffusion of Innovation: A Study of BIM Adoption in Construction Industries. 35th Annual ARCOM Conference: Leeds
• Thurairajah, N., Wedawatta, G. and Thurairajah, N. (2019). Rethinking off-site manufacturing for disaster resilience, In Offsite Production and Manufacturing for Innovative Construction, Goulding, J. and Rahimian, F. (Ed.). Taylor and Francis
• Wedawatta, G., Thurairajah, N. & Ginige, K. (eds.) (2019) Proceedings of ARCOM Doctoral Workshop on 'Industry 4.0 and Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment': ARCOM Doctoral Workshop in association with CIB W120 - Disasters and the Built Environment, 30 Oct 2019, Industry 4.0 and Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment: ARCOM Doctoral Workshop In association with CIB W120 - Disasters and the Built Environment.
• Cidik, M.S. Boyd, D. and Thurairajah, N., (2017). Innovative Capability of Building Information Modelling in Construction Design. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management. 143(8).
• Thurairajah, N. and Boyd, D. (2017). BIM for clients: developing digital dividends. In: Haugbølle, K. and Boyd, D. Clients and Users in Construction: Agency, Governance and Innovation. London: Routledge. p195-213.
• Boyd, D., Thurairajah, N. and Leonard, M. (2015). Digital Construction for housing: delivering better homes for the customer. BCU in association with KPMG and the futures group. Birmingham.

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