Increasingly advanced and integrated vessel systems offer potentially great benefits to shipowners and operators, but making sure all systems work reliably together can present significant challenges. Since 2018, a consortium of maritime industry stakeholders has joined forces to establish an ecosystem for collaborative digital twin simulations that will enable virtual exploration of solutions for designing, commissioning, operating and assuring complex, integrated systems.
To reach these ambitious goals, a Joint Industry Project (JIP) has been founded under the name Open Simulation Platform (OSP). Project co-founders DNV GL, Kongsberg Maritime, NTNU, and SINTEF Ocean have been joined by 20 industry partners in what promises to be a game-changing effort to maximise the benefits of digital twin technology. OSP is a step toward bringing the maritime industry up to the level of other industries such as automotive and aviation, with their long history of integrating complex systems.
The goal for OSP is to establish a standard for models and simulations in the maritime industry, enabling both re-use of models and collaborative system simulations to solve challenges in the design, building and operation of today’s and tomorrow’s ships. The JIP is scheduled to make its final work package deliveries by spring of 2020, laying the groundwork for the long-term ecosystem vision.
Software and systems integration issues can create challenges throughout the newbuilding and operational phases, leading to expensive delays, slowing innovation, and causing undesired incidents and downtime. According to Pierre Sames, DNV GL Group Technology and Research Director, there is a growing need to understand how different systems work together to help owners avoid costly consequences of unforeseen complications.
“As owners seek to equip vessels with more sophisticated digital solutions offered by different suppliers, they become more vulnerable to software and systems integration failures,” he says. While he acknowledges that some suppliers already offer proprietary ‘digital twin’ services, the high cost of creating simulation models, limited re-use and interoperability of these models and lack of common simulation infrastructure has made true industry collaboration difficult.
“The Open Simulation Platform will create the foundation for an open ecosystem where the maritime industry can share simulation models to facilitate the creation of holistic digital twin systems and vessels,” he says. “We believe the OSP will strengthen collaboration between owners, shipyards, equipment manufacturers and sub-suppliers to help manage growing challenges related to the design, integration, commissioning and operation of increasingly complex, integrated systems and software.”
Virtual eco-system, real value
The four project initiators share a common goal, but have different interests. DNV GL will act as the host of the ecosystem, providing neutral space for industry collaboration, with an eye to future classification services for cyber-physical systems and components, and future model-based advisory services. “We believe that data-smart asset solutions are a key to improved business performance and risk management, and the digital twin approach is central to this next-generation offering,” says Sames.
The Open Simulation Platform is an open-source software code which will be a game-changer for the industry...
Svein Kleven – Senior Vice President Kongsberg Maritime
As a technology provider, Kongsberg has identified the commercial benefits of the OSP for designing, constructing, verifying and operating new maritime concepts and technology. “The Open Simulation Platform is an open-source software code which will be a game-changer for the industry when it comes to utilisation of simulation tools and virtual prototyping as an integrated part of the value creation. Well-defined standards, protocols and programming interfaces are instrumental in order to increase the efficiency and reduce cost for modeling of advanced systems. The Open Simulation Platform approach allows for co-simulation of multiple models without the need for re-modeling or transferring models between their application software environments. Model libraries may be stored locally and secured according to premises and policies set by the individual companies and users. The opportunity of sharing the physical behavior of the product model without the risk of compromising company confidential information about the product itself is the key driver for the development of the OSP standards”, says Svein Kleven – Senior Vice President Kongsberg Maritime. “The OSP standards will be instrumental when building digital twins of complex systems and are equally applicable throughout the lifecycle, from design through construction and into operations.”
The research organisation SINTEF Ocean sees the platform as a tool to support the development of ocean space industries in a more efficient way. The OSP will be key in efficient distribution of knowledge and technology for industrial adaptation through simulation models and applications, both internally in SINTEF and in collaboration with external partners. The OSP will make SINTEF Ocean's research and commercial software available for a larger group of users by introducing a standardized methodology for co-simulation in the maritime domain. Standards developed in the OSP will be adapted by SINTEF Ocean, enabling future research projects to focus solely on domain simulation models and applications rather than using significant resources on simulation infrastructure and interfaces, as in the past.
Hans Petter Hildre (NTNU) says that by working together in a virtual environment, the industry can achieve a larger degree of interaction between different systems. “We can also help individual businesses and developers to avoid spending a lot of time on their own testing systems in isolation, without having the opportunity to test how it actually will interact in operation with other systems,” he says.
The beauty of the OSP concept lies in the interoperability of models from all stakeholders
DNV GL - Research Programme Director
DNV GL Research Program Director Øyvind Smogeli, who is managing the project on behalf of the partners, says that the work is challenging and ambitious, but collaboration is going smoothly and the project is progressing according to plan.
“We are building the Core Simulation Environment (CSE), a co-simulation engine based on decades of experience from all founding partners, and building these legacies together with new standards from the automotive industry. The CSE will be launched as open source to the industry by the end of the project in order to drive standardization and enable companies to work on the same basic platform.”
In addition the JIP will deliver a model catalogue where stakeholders can share models and test their behaviour in interactive scenarios. “This requires that we define and categorise different components and systems within a fixed hierarchy and make sure all models comply with the OSP model standard, to achieve compatibility and interoperability between different models and platforms.” Smogeli adds that the project will also be delivering a set of open reference models and digital twin system examples as a separate work package.
A new way of building digital twins
Smogeli explains that an OSP digital twin is comprised of a large set of interconnected models and digital twin components. "The beauty of the OSP concept lies in the interoperability of models from all stakeholders and modeling tools, and the collaboration opportunities this offers. “With the OSP approach the digital twin is built in steps, starting with simpler models in the design phase, then substituting these with more accurate models and actual control system software in the construction phase, and finally being able to fine-tune and adapt models based on data streams in the operational phase,” he says.
“OEMs, system and component providers and other stakeholders can make their models and digital twin components visible in the catalogue, and offer them to other participants in the ecosystem at their own commercial and IPR terms. A digital twin component would include engineering models of the equipment physics and control system software, as well as emulated control system hardware, human-machine interfaces and control panels, making it possible to perform virtual commissioning, configuration and testing in a collaborative effort on the platform.”
Assessing emergent properties – the next level digital twin
The OSP approach is more than data-driven digital twin, which does not contain any real physics, explains Smogeli. “Comparing data from the real asset with the digital twin in order to refine the twin is important, but it pertains mainly to monitoring equipment, such as in predictive or condition-based maintenance. But a data driven digital twin cannot monitor or detect system failures in complex systems that arise due to software errors and system integration failures, or predict the effect of changes to software or other system elements. Enabling a twin to assess emergent properties represents the next level digital twin.”
Emergent properties exist in a system only because of the interaction of its parts. Studying the parts or components in isolation does not reveal which emergent properties might arise. “Emergent properties are a risk throughout a vessel’s operation, not just in the design phase,” Smogeli explains. “For example, an engineer might do a software update for a thruster, which might be fine in isolation, but if it’s not tested in an OSP-like twin environment, it could have a mission-critical impact through other systems on the vessel.” Such system issues are difficult to deal with, he points out, involving painstaking troubleshooting to find the critical emergent problems, and typically leading to expensive downtime for ships and rigs.
The aim of the OSP is to resolve these issues by incorporating engineering models and the actual control system software from all manufacturers into the digital twin. “Then it becomes possible to assess also the emergent system properties through systematic simulations. The next-level digital twin then becomes the most reliable as-built documentation of the vessel systems. This is useful throughout the vessel lifecycle.
24 active partners and growing
Since work began in 2018, the OSP project has also generated interest among other stakeholders from all over the world. “The OSP has been conceived as a transparent, open ecosystem, and because the growing complexity of today’s vessels involves many different types of companies, we have actively sought the input from other industry players,” says Smogeli. “Today, we have a total of 24 active partners, including suppliers, sub-suppliers, energy companies, shipyards and owners, and there is an open invitation for new partners to join the project.”
Smogeli relates that one key challenge has been to ensure the integrity of intellectual property rights among partners. “Everyone agrees that managing software integration issues requires some measure of transparency between stakeholders,” he says. “But we recognise that for the OSP to become a truly collaborative platform, all stakeholders must trust that their proprietary software and solutions remain safe and undisclosed.”
In a statement released by Timothy Kendon, Principal Researcher, Equinor, the company “…joined the OSP JIP to promote the use of the Functional Mock Up Interface (FMI) standard within the maritime industry and to help harmonize model building, verification and integration within tomorrow’s digital twins.”
Erik-Jan Boonen, Principal Research Engineer, DAMEN shipyards says: “Time domain simulation is a powerful tool for model-based design. However, as shipyard, we don’t have all the component details. Better cooperation should make expectations and responsibilities clear to yard and supplier.”
Hinnerk Treyde, Project Manager for thyssenkrupp notes: “As a system integrator, we need to combine a large variety of system models to form a comprehensive multi domain ship model. Standardization and exchange of models are required for that.”
“As a leading commercial maritime simulator supplier, we want to follow the project and help the OSP standard succeed,” says Terje Heierstad, VP Business Development Maritime Simulation, Kongsberg Digital.
Open source collaboration on Veracity
At present, the JIP has developed a working prototype for the Core Simulation Environment and is working to build the model catalogue. “We are also developing three use cases to give users a sense of how the platform works,” says Smogeli. “These include design of a hybrid ferry propulsion system, virtual commissioning of a coastal service vessel, and planning of a subsea crane operation.”
The open source Core Simulation Environment and the new standards will be available for any company to download and use for their own purpose and with models they have access to. In addition, the full OSP ecosystem – incorporating the Core Simulation Environment, the model catalogue and all needed platform mechanisms – will be hosted on DNV GL’s open industry data platform Veracity. This provides a secure and neutral collaborative space for all stakeholders, allowing any partner to use the models they have been granted access to for their own purpose, and enabling a group of partners to establish co-simulation without exposing inner workings of models or control systems software.“
For all of this to happen, common standards and interoperability must be established,” Smogeli says. “All parties are able to work individually within the system, but a shared and secure platform is required for collaboration.”
If we get it right, OSP could have a profound impact on how the industry works together in the future
Remi Eriksen - Group President & CEO, DNV GL
For Remi Eriksen, Group President & CEO of DNV GL, the project represents a good example of how the industry can work together to solve common challenges. “At is core, OSP is a tool for the industry to innovate and co-create next generation vessels on a platform that has clear benefits for each stakeholder,” he says. “But we also recognise that thanks to introduction of new digital technologies that enable everything from automation to zero emissions propulsion systems, the OSP may also play an important role in helping the industry to improve safety and environmental performance. If we get it right, OSP could have a profound impact on how the industry works together in the future.”
Digital twin - definition
A digital twin is a digital copy of a real ship, including its systems, which synthesises the information available about the ship in a digital world. The use of digital twins enables optimization of a ship’s design, maintenance, production and sustainability throughout its entire lifecycle.
Key benefits of the Open Simulation Platform
- Cost-efficient delivery of “digital twin” vessels through re-use of models
- An open platform that promotes transparency and cooperation
- Open-source license drives adoption and standardization
- Model and interface standardization while protecting intellectual property rights
- Lifecycle software change management