Our webinar, How digital twins drive vessel efficiency and voyage performance, offered answers on the actual and potential use of digital twin technology. Panellists said the technology’s development is reaching a critical juncture and discussed how the global coronavirus outbreak is hastening the digitalisation of the maritime sector
The webinar was the second in Riviera Maritime Media’s Vessel Optimisation Webinar Week, part of our ongoing, multi-week series of webinars.
Digital twins are dynamic digital replicas of machinery, systems and assets that can help to solve operational challenges, predict faults and reduce downtime. It is a technological solution that is being supplied to first movers by innovative manufacturers but still requires a considerable amount of in-use verification and continued development to reach full maturity.
The panellists represented the three sides of the digital twin triangle: supply, verification and development. Representing the suppliers of digital twin solutions was MacGregor vice president, digital and business transformation Dennis Mol. DNV GL principal specialist Gaute Storhaug covered the verification side, and the theoretical and practical development of digital twins was explained by Lappeenranta University of Technology associate professor Teemu Turunen-Saaresti.
Tackling the subject of the optimal division of storage and analysis, looking at sea-based and shoreside processing capabilities, Mr Turunen-Saaresti explained that for increased data transfer efficiency the data should be pre-analysed on board. However, he noted analysis on shore provides the kind of “computational power that is not always available on site".
"We need substantial [computational] power for digital twin analysis,” Mr Turunen-Saaresti said, alluding to the fact analysis on board is an advantage as it lowers the data packet size necessary when transfers are made on or near-shore. However, the equipment on the ship will have a limited capacity to process large data sets and granular analysis requires massive computational power only currently available on shore.
Mr Mol added that MacGregor "has learned the acceptance of digital twins on board beyond the physical equipment is related to how well the crew accept the system".
"Pre-working the data in parallel with crew on board stimulates the usage of the data. They can see the same information as the shore side and the information flow and processes improve a lot through this interaction,” he said. Mr Mol concluded that while there is a limit to the amount of computational power on a ship compared to shore, “for the adoption, pre-analysis on board is worth investing in”.
Mr Storhaug said, “There are three different concepts of digital twin. The first uses ’public’ data which does not mean the data is free to everyone, but it is in principle freely available. The second type of digital twin requires design models from the designer or shipyard or class society and data on ship position and wave heights. The third concept adds the data from sensors on the ship. That is a lot of different sources.” He noted that processing on board, in the cloud or on shore depended on the application but with one caveat “If it is for safety on board then it needs to be processed on board and all the data accessible onboard,” he said.
Attendees were asked via a poll ’To what extent do you analyse the processes that underpin digital twins?’.
More than a fifth, 22%, replied that they undertook no analysis, more than 18% processed a quarter of the data, some 30% processed half the data,15% processed 75% and the same percentage processed 100% of the data.
Asked to define the level of hype surrounding digital twin technology, Mr Mol answered through the prism of today’s most pressing issue, a global pandemic. While the shipping industry has discussed digitalisation and slowly began to adopt digital technologies over several years, Mr Mol said the Covid-19 pandemic has brought the real benefits into focus.
“Today we are using digital tools to stay focused and are having lots of discussions with clients on accelerated adoption. There is a tailwind behind the adoption of digital technologies that was not there a few months ago,” he said.
Similarly, attendees were asked to what extent they felt a digital twin mirrors reality, with the majority of respondents reporting a 50% or higher correlation and virtually none expressing the opinion that the virtual and physical representations bore no resemblance to each other.
Asked about the existence of data management strategies within their respective companies, the vast majority of attendees (82%) worked in organisations that had a data management strategy.
However, the bulk of attendees are yet to use digital twins as a service maintenance strategy. When it comes to digital twins and service maintenance: 18% said they were already using them, 20% planned to employ the technology within the next 12 months, 24% within the next 24 months, 26% in more than two years and 12% said they would not use the technology but rather maintain manual inspections. Similarly, some 20% of attendees said they use 3D modelling but not digital twins, nearly 60% stick with manual processes, while just over 20% use digital twins with condition monitoring.
Still, as Mr Mol pointed out, attitudes are changing fast now that digital communication is vital to cope with operations during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, and uptake is likely to continue on a growth trajectory.
You can view the webinar, in full, in our webinar library.
And you can sign up to attend one of our many upcoming webinars on our events page.
Panellists: top left, MacGregor vice president digital and business transformation Dennis Mol, top right: DNV GL principal specialist Gaute Storhaug, bottom left: Lappeenranta University of Technology associate professor Teemu Turunen-Saaresti