Press Release

Cross-industry collaboration launches to accelerate digital twins uptake in shipping

The Digital Twin project involving Japan-based ship owners, shipbuilders, classification society and a software provider signals a potential breakthrough in the sharing of ship design and operational data.

Tokyo, Japan: 22 May 2024 – Japanese maritime leaders have announced the successful completion of the early phases of a cross-industry project aimed at creating a secure data-sharing framework between shipyards and shipowners to advance the use of digital twins throughout a ship’s lifecycle. The project, which aims to enable the use of a vessel’s unique design data to optimize efficiency and safety at sea as well as the sharing of operational data to inform new designs, brings together shipowners NYK Group company MTI Co. Ltd. (“MTI”), Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL) and Marubeni Corporation, shipbuilders Imabari Shipbuilding, Japan Marine United Corporation, and Usuki Shipyard, software and data services provider NAPA, and classification society ClassNK.

Initial results have confirmed the feasibility of increased data sharing between shipyards, shipowners, ship managers and charterers, among other stakeholders, by overcoming obstacles related to the sharing of sensitive design and operational data.

The first two phases of the project identified over 30 potential use cases where the data and 3D models used to design the ship can be shared securely and used to create a vessel-specific digital twin that helps improve operational efficiency and safety throughout its lifecycle. Further analysis confirmed the potential and value of digital twins in supporting loading calculations, ship condition monitoring and energy-saving device evaluation.

Building on the success of the feasibility study, the next phase will develop a new platform that will enable 3D models created during the design stage to be shared in a secure and access-controlled digital environment, together with new business models to implement this innovative approach in practice in commercial agreements. This could create a new revenue stream for shipyards and solution providers, as well as mechanisms to share benefits between stakeholders. This phase of the project is led by ClassNK as an impartial entity to ensure that the platform is neutral and fair.

The project aims to start operation in 2025, signaling a potential breakthrough in the sharing of design and operational data to overcome traditional barriers to the adoption of digital twins in the maritime sector.

The partnership also explored ways in which operational data can be fed back to shipyards to provide valuable insights on how their concepts perform in real life, thereby enabling naval architects and engineers to improve future ship designs.

Mr. Naoki Mizutani, Executive Vice President for NAPA Studios, said: “Collaboration continues to be the underpinning foundation enabling the industry to develop new solutions and optimize existing operations for the energy transition. Our Digital Twin project captures this enterprising spirit to reach a new milestone: bridging design and operational data for safer, more efficient and greener shipping. This project also demonstrates that it is possible to build new types of partnerships with stakeholders across the value chain to make the most of industry expertise and maximize the potential of technologies at our fingertips.”

Mr. Yoshimichi Sasaki, General Manager, Digital Transformation Center at ClassNK, said: “Digital twins are a key asset for shipping, particularly in the context of the energy transition. They offer unparalleled insight into a ship’s unique design profile and characteristics and unlock new opportunities to use this data to optimize operations and maintenance, while also expanding possibilities to deploy innovative technologies on board. This project demonstrates how we can break data silos to foster closer dialogue between shipyards and ship owners at a time of increasing design and operational complexity.”

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About NAPA
NAPA is a leading provider of software and digital services for the global maritime industry, harnessing data science to enable safer, more sustainable and future-proof shipping.

Founded in 1989 to provide smart solutions for ship design, NAPA is now the global reference in shipbuilding, with over 90% of new vessels built by NAPA customers. Today, the company’s expertise spans the entire lifecycle of a ship, from shipyards to operational safety and efficiency at sea. Over 3000 commercial ships globally sail with NAPA safety and efficiency solutions, which include digital ship stability systems that enable a proactive approach to safety at sea, cloud-based performance monitoring that delivers insights to unlock new operational efficiencies, and voyage optimization solutions that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from voyages.

Headquartered in Finland, NAPA employs 200 experts and operates globally, with a presence in Japan, Korea, China, Singapore, the USA, Germany, Greece, Romania and India.

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About ClassNK
Established in 1899, ClassNK is a classification society dedicated to safety and environmental protection through third-party certification. ClassNK has conducted diverse technical services including surveys and classifications of ships and marine structures based on its own rules, international conventions on behalf of more than 100 flag states, management system certifications in line with ISO and other industry standards. ClassNK has committed to provide the industry with its full support to pave the way for digitalization and decarbonization challenges through the expanding certification service and R&D with industry partners.

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Press contact
Rohini Lakhani
BLUE Communications

ClassNK - EOD