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Digital Twins Transforming Singapore’s Maritime Sector

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Associate Professor Tay Zhi Yung, an expert in naval design and marine engineering at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), has been working with other members of the Goal Zero consortium to build the “Hydromover,” Singapore’s first fully electric harbour boat.

This craft is anticipated to be among the most cost-effective and green solutions available for cargo vessel crafts, with the potential to cut fuel expenditures by as much as 77% and prevent as many as 752 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere.

The Hydromover is unique among traditional ships since it can travel both in the physical and virtual worlds. The Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore (TCOMS) and the SIT team developed the vessel’s digital twin, a virtual representation of itself. This digital twin will be able to simulate numerically how the Hydromover reacts to severe weather conditions like storm surges and thunderstorms in real-time.

“We can now instantly connect our numerical model with data we gather from ships thanks to 4G, 5G, and the Internet of Things,” said A/Prof Tay. As a result, it transforms into a digital twin, a virtual model that functions exactly like the real model.

A digital twin has many advantages for the maritime sector. It can boost efficiency while also enhancing safety by foreseeing when a vessel could need maintenance. Sensors monitoring the battery performance of a ship can alert maintenance staff to irregularities, reducing downtime and extending asset life.

However, due to the high cost of the sensors needed for data collecting, the installation of digital twins can be costly. While the digital counterpart of the Hydromover is being calibrated and improved Wider adoption of digital twinning for larger warships will be difficult once actual data from the ship’s sensors is gathered. Large batteries are needed for large ships, and these batteries don’t get much lighter when energy is used up.

Despite these obstacles, the project is progressing, and the pilot vessel’s construction is currently underway. By the end of 2023, the Hydromover is anticipated to be operational, and by the second part of 2024, it should be ready for commercial use.

The introduction of it will be a critical step in attaining the decarbonisation goals established by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), which requires that by 2030, all new harbour boats operating in Singaporean waters be completely electric or powered by low-carbon energy sources.

In addition, the digital twin system created for the Hydromover may support ship operators in their decision-making by assisting in the calculation of battery sizes for newly constructed electric boats and enabling the conversion of diesel-powered ships to electric power. The adoption of sustainable maritime technology may be influenced significantly by the research results and operational profiles.

It is essential to provide the upcoming generation of maritime professionals with the ability to work with new technology to assure the success of these ambitious endeavours. A/Prof Tay underlines the significance of digitalisation skills, which will be crucial for the future of the maritime industry and include data analytics.

The development of autonomous vessels has tremendous potential because of the digital twin technology, which is consistent with Singapore’s goal of having ports that are prepared for the future. Innovation will be crucial in transforming the maritime sector into one that is more efficient and sustainable as it continues to develop.

A brave step towards a cleaner, more environmentally friendly marine future is represented by the Hydromover and its digital twin. It represents Singapore’s dedication to developing sustainable shipping solutions as it readies to set sail and acts as motivation for the international maritime community to move toward a more technologically sophisticated and ecologically sensitive future


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