Digital Twin: A Step-Wise Approach Recommended
Digital twins will increase in potential in line with the development of digital tools, says Mogens Schrøder Bech, Senior Consultant at the Danish Maritime Authority.
The Danish Maritime Authority commissioned a report on the technology's potential from DNV GL, and the report highlights the potential for optimizing ship systems digitally rather than physically.
Even though the concept of digital twins has existed for several decades, recent developments have made it possible to realize an in-depth system simulation of a complete asset such as a ship, including physical models and systems controlled by computer-based algorithms. While many maritime stakeholders already have some tools that can be seen as digital twins, the natural next step is to integrate them into a full digital twin ship to maximize the benefits.
The U.S. Air Force and many car manufacturers, such as Maserati, have used digital twins to reduce cost and time in design and in manufacturing and operation. Equipment manufacturers, like General Electric (GE), are increasingly relying on them, for example for wind farms.
In the maritime business, digital twins have recently been tested, demonstrating that a multitude of asset properties and data can be embedded in a ship’s digital twin model:
• Analytical models for structures and hydrodynamics are important as design tools.
• Information models for systems and components are important to assure proper operation and maintenance, safety assurance and reporting to authorities.
• 3D visualization models can be applied for vessel design, operational planning and training.
• Time-domain models of components and systems provide the basis for process optimization, control system testing, operational planning and training.
• Sensor and process data from the real vessel is used for performance monitoring, condition based maintenance and for decision support.
• Software driven control algorithms and virtual communication networks are used for testing and verification of software updates, and for virtual operations.
Current developments are focusing on developing a platform for connecting the elements in an overall digital twin ecosystem. A prerequisite for such system integration and cooperation is a wider use of standards and development of new standards, e.g. covering formats for data, communication, models and interfaces.
To date, many operators have not been able to make, full use of available digital information and tools, as it has been difficult to make large investments without immediate pay-back. The report therefore recommends a step-wise approach towards taking full advantage of the new opportunities offered by a digital twin.
The report is available here.