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Maritime Digitalisation & Communications

Digital twins optimise workboat design and maintenance

Mon 22 Oct 2018 by Martyn Wingrove

Digital twins optimise workboat design and maintenance
Aveva Engage includes 3D design models, machinery and pipework on a vessel

Technology to create twins of complete vessels has been developed for engineering analysis and optimisation

Classification societies and design programmers have developed technology to produce digital twins of vessels, workboats and tug equipment to improve design, class approvals and through-life operations. These are digitised versions of vessels and onboard systems built from 3D models and updated through their lifetime using sensor data.

Potential uses for digital twins include optimisation, design and type-approval, integration, testing and acceptance, interface management and certification in the construction phase and change management, troubleshooting, training and classification in the operational phase.

Aveva introduced digital twin technology at the SMM exhibition in Hamburg, Germany in September. This software creates a twin that covers design, engineering, construction and the operating life of a vessel. Aveva Engage includes 3D design models, machinery and plant engineering plans, complex pipework models, deep insight information and condition analysis of all elements on a vessel, such as a tugboat.

“With this model and digital twin, users have access to live data on the vessel,” said Aveva regional manager Andrew Gordon, who demonstrated the software to Tug Technology & Business.

Aveva Engage has a “high-performance graphical engine that enables operators to navigate through the digital prototype” and view documents, photos, manuals and surveys in real-time, he explained.

The software also provides information on system components and data from sensors across a vessel once it is in operation. Initial design information and subsequent changes during engineering, construction and vessel operation is held in a relational database and accessed initially through the Aveva work-hub.

“A digital model can be downloaded into the system as a close-cut of the live database,” said Mr Gordon. “It is visualised in 3D, where we can include a marine environment, or used in an X-ray mode.” This enables engineers to view elements of the model, intelligent data of onboard systems and assess how these interact in the digital twin.

Naval architects at Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping Co’s Design Institute developed a digital twin of a multipurpose tug it designed for towing non self-propelled vessels and floating structures.

It used Cadmatic software to develop a 3D model of a single-deck tugboat with fixed pitch propellers with rotating nozzles. This model also includes the engineroom systems, pipework, bulkheads and electrical systems.

Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping operates a fleet of 11 harbour tugs, six barges and 19 anchor handlers in a fleet that includes merchant ships, passenger ships and offshore vessels.

At SMM, Lloyd’s Register (LR) named General Electric (GE) as its first class-certified digital twin provider. LR marine and offshore director Nick Brown thinks digital twins present “a significant opportunity to marine and offshore operators” in terms of improving aspects of their operational performance and maintenance regimes while allowing for “greater transparency and repeatability in demonstrating compliance”.

LR developed the first data-driven compliance framework because of the increasing use of digital twins. LR can assess and recognise a system provider's ability to create an asset-specific twin. “Digital Compliance now provides this assurance, defining how to demonstrate trust in using digital twins and associated digital health management systems,” said Mr Brown.

“Digital Compliance defines how to demonstrate trust in using digital twins and associated digital health management systems”

GE’s Predix Asset Performance Management is a suite of software designed to help optimise the performance of assets. Each asset can have a digital twin, including diesel engines, compressors, pumps, alternators, etc, for digital health management and mitigating operational risks.

In Norway, a consortium of companies established the Open Simulation Platform for building digital twins as complex simulations of vessels and their systems. Contributors create virtualised versions of their hardware, such as thrusters and engines, by gathering performance data from the asset-using sensors. This is fed into the digital twin that is submitted to a central library. Multiple digital twins can be co-simulated for assessing their interaction and improving design and engineering.

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