Digital vessel twinning

Digital twinning bridges the gap between the physical world and virtual world.[1] It involves the scanning of existing objects to create virtual (digital) replicas. During ship construction, hull sections are scanned before being sent for assembly. These highly-accurate digital replicas are then used to prepare for the final assembly of the hull. However, during shipbuilding many modifications are made during the construction, and the delivered ship never has the exact specifications detailed in the initial ship design.

This becomes a challenge when yards, that rely on the designs, plan for the retrofitting and rebuilding of these ships. Shipyards are thus required to re-plan the service when the actual ship comes into the yard. With the global ship repair and maintenance services market expected to reach over $39.93bn by 2029, digital twins will give shipowners and yards better starting points for planning.[2] It will provide a single platform that can help service providers avoid costly mistakes and rework as well as increasing the efficiency of stowage operations.[3,4]

Furthermore, when the construction of a ship is finished, a comparison of the design with the delivered digital twin can be used to check if the yard has delivered the planned ship to specification. Experiences with digital twinning from other sectors have shown to speed up and improve the effectiveness of physical inspections by 10%.[5,6] However, despite the promise of digital twinning, there is currently a lack of operational standards and concerns over the difficulty of integrating the technology.

When will it be accepted practice that digital twins are delivered alongside physical ships?

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[1] Grand View Research (2018), Digital Twin Market Size Worth $26.07 Billion By 2025
[2] Future Market Insights (2018),An Incisive, In-depth Analysis on the Ship Repair And Maintenance Services Market
[3] The Maritime Executive (2019), Managing Vessel Repairs with a "Digital Twin"
[4] Danish Maritime Authority (2018), Digital Twins for Blue Denmark
[5] Safety4Sea (2019), The Digital Twin Concept explained/
[6] Safety4Sea (2018), Ten technologies that will lead the way in the next five years
More Information:
Safety4Sea (2018), How the digital twin concept can improve shipping
Markets and Markets (2020), Digital Twin Market
DNV GL (2020), Data smart asset solutions - Digital twin
The Maritime Executive (2020), Digital Twins
Danish Ship Finance (2018), Shipping Market Review
Sea Europe (2018), Sea Market Forecast
Safety4Sea (2018), VesselsValue: 44% of 2018 ship orderbook not delivered yet
Markets and Markets (2020), Digital Twin Market worth $35.8 billion by 2025
Danish Maritime Authority (2020), Inspection intervals

By Matthew J. Spaniol