As digitalisation becomes essential in maritime, technology elevates to a more abstract level – smart ship versus digital twin.
Many shipping companies are incorporating technology into their processes. Jargons such as “Smart Ships” and “Digital Twins” are often confused. How can shipping companies tell both apart and adopt the correct medium for their operations?
What is the difference?
In short, smart shipping refers to autonomous operation of vessels. Manoeuvring waters is carried out remotely while utilising data collected by the ship’s sensors. All information is assembled in one point onshore or offshore. These data assist the captain’s decision making. Internet of Things (IoT) is required to facilitate data storage in a centralised cloud-database.
However, shipping companies may overlook the fact decisions made based on smart ships’ data are circumstantial. The limitation of smart ships is fluidity of conditions; resulting in some decisions eventually holding no merit upon new nautical developments.
A digital twin is a virtual replica of the vessel that runs simulations before actual deployment. This is particularly beneficial from a predictive standpoint. Digital twin combines real-time simulation of system dynamics with a set of executive controls. Serving as both an interactive simulation and a set of administrative tools, digital twins manage facilities, systems, and machines, while gathering data to drive performance. Hence, decisions made with the help of digital twins hold more weight as analysis is based on a combination of both historical and real-time data.
Characteristics at a glance
Envision piloting a vessel without any actual manoeuvring at the cockpit, and negotiating tricky waters without risking safety. The big advantage of a digital twin is its position as a low-risk alternative allowing ship operators to practise without compromising crew safety – albeit with higher costs. Shipowners can look into Marine Online’s extensive network of providers for courses on simulation training for their crew.