In a previous blog post I mentioned the digital twin and the digital thread as two key strategic capabilities which can delivered by a full enterprise wide shipyard PLM implementation project.
I believe that one of the key aspects moving forward with the digital twin concept in the Shipbuilding industry is to determine what digital data set needs to be handed over from shipyard to shipowner for improved efficiencies in fleet management.
This digital twin data set could be defined by classification society regulation: a new build hull would be required to have this minimum digital data set as part of the handover process to the shipowner, perhaps to achieve a new type of "digital class" approval for that ship.
With new, agile PLM systems being extended across the shipyard, beyond the traditional engineering domain, shipyards will increasingly have the opportunity to capture digital information throughout the manufacturing lifecycle of a new build.
So the good news is that a shipyard using a modern adaptive PLM solution, with implementation focused on internal shipyard efficiencies, will naturally capture a digital thread and digital twin rich data set as a natural by-product of its design, manufacturing and testing processes.
I believe we are still at a stage in the industry where shipowners are not fully aware of what effective gains they can achieve with a digital twin data set for fleet management. For example: how much reduced downtime can you achieve for service / maintenance operations using a 3D digital twin PLM derived data set, versus a traditional MRO work order /2D drawing approach? Benchmarking gains in similar industries such as aerospace, could provide an initial route for industry wide motivation to investigate further and initiate adoption.
A future significant use case for the shipowner digital twin will be when we achieve a critical mass of ship sensor information, required for increased levels of ship automation and remote vessel operation. I can certainly see ownership and maintenance of a digital twin data set as being a future mandatory requirement to obtain class approval permission for remote vessel operation (even with human on board supervision).
So the bottom line is that shipyards adopting PLM today, across the enterprise, are not only able to be more competitive during the construction phase for the current generation of vessels they are delivering, they are already positioning themselves to deliver more intelligent products and meet future regulatory requirements for new classes of highly automated vessels.