Featured Image: Siemens Government Technologies
[Note: Siemens is the single source provider on the Navy digital twin contracts. This video is how the company represents its vision of the future use cases of digital twins in various vertical industries. This video is of course not an endorsement of any company or software platform, but we feel it captured future use cases pretty well.]
Digital Twins are the virtual representation of hard assets in a system for the proxy observation of operations and the maintenance of infrastructure. Navy ships, shipping containers, consumer goods – everything can be represented by a digital twin in a virtual software environment – including all the vital attributes attached to the hard asset and monitored via the digital twin (“virtual replica”).
In late 2020, OODA Network Member Chris Ward first provided an analysis of the future of digital twins in the Navy. Chris provided an overview of the Navy’s struggle to keep up with its goals for a software and hardware refresh on all Navy vessels: “Delivering a complex computing environment to a 300 plus fleet of seagoing vessels is a monumental task. A typical Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) program installation takes many months to complete and must be done in port, in a shipyard.
“Navy programs a 4-year software refresh and a 6-year hardware refresh. They almost never meet that goal. Keeping the fleet modernized and standardized often falls prey to pressing operational needs. Imagine working with 7+-year-old hardware and 4+-year-old software? Today, less than half the Fleet has been modernized with the CANES configuration, and those delivered include many variants on the standard CANES framework.”
“…a multi-billion-dollar optimization overhaul that will employ digital twin technology to map out areas most in need of changes.”
“To resolve some of these issues, Navy has started to build virtual replicas of ships systems. Can a Digital Twin help the Navy deploy new technology without pulling the ship into port? Can a Digital Twin reduce the chance of breaking important mission-critical systems?”
Since Chris’ initial analysis, the Navy has expanded the digital twin approach in the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP) – “a multi-billion-dollar optimization overhaul that will employ digital twin technology to map out areas most in need of changes. The SIOP is a 20-year, $21-billion effort to modernize the four public yards in Kittery, Maine; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Portsmouth, Virginia; and Puget Sound, Washington.”
“…we’re ingesting thousands and thousands of lines of data and information into the model.”
According to National Defense Magazine: “Critical to the effort is a modeling-and-simulation technology known as digital twins which digitally replicates an object, place, or building, said Stephanie Douglas, executive director for logistics, maintenance, and industrial operations at Naval Sea Systems Command. “The modeling and simulation is really key as it allows us the opportunity to figure out how to optimize flow, not only within the shops but around the yards to provide the most efficient and productive layout for operations within the shipyard,” she said.
“We’re already seeing some really exciting things come out of the modeling-and-simulation piece of it in terms of opportunities.” The service reached out to industry to tackle the “massive effort” and chose Siemens Government Technologies to create digital twins for each of the four yards, .said Steve Lagana, program manager for the SIOP office, “There has never been a digital twin modeling-and-simulation effort of this size and scale ever in the world.”
The service completed its first digital twin of Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard near the end of 2020 and as the various digital twins come online, the Navy is applying lessons learned to the entire program, noted Lagana. “We’re learning as we’re ingesting thousands and thousands of lines of data and information into the model,” he said. The service is identifying limitations in the software and working through those to make the system more efficient. Those changes will then be incorporated into the other digital twins. (1)
- In-house modeling and simulation capabilities are key to any digital twin strategy. What department in your organization has these capabilities – or should lead the build-out of this capacity?
- Web3 technologies (blockchain) and computer graphic visualizations (aka the metaverse) are a logical disruption of the more proprietary ‘closed garden’ approach taken by the Navy with Siemens described here. Be careful to not get locked into an overly proprietary commercial solution too early in this innovative space.
- Choose a small-scale portion of the assets in your operation, assemble a team, and explore commercially available digital twin platforms for the creation of a digital twin prototype project.
- If commercial packages are cost-prohibitive for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB), explore a suite of Web3 platforms and Metaverse APIs tools to create a digital twin prototype for your organization.
- Web3 tools and the metaverse are not solely the domain of SMBs. A business case can be made for this development approach within large organizations as well.
- Generate quantifiable test results from your prototype project and socialize the results company-wide to garner feedback from various departments and business lines. Ideally, get traction for a more ambitious digital twin project within your organization.
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