Companies, suppliers, and customers are becoming more closely aligned as a result of the processes and businesses are becoming more digitally connected and connected globally. The maritime industry struggles with widespread digitalization efforts in comparison to other fields like the automotive industry or manufacturing because it already faces extraordinary complexity in its products and organizational structures, as well as rising delivery costs or pressure for decarbonization. Applications for holistic digital twins can be crucial instruments for addressing these problems and significantly assisting digitalization efforts.

Consequently, the development of sophisticated decision support systems to help ship operators quantify the impact of various decarbonization pathways on the vessel emission profile, as well as improvements in technical and economic performance, is a key requirement for the shipping industry’s move toward decarbonization. A possible strategy to speed up decarbonization in the shipping industry is to use digitalization, supported by data from sensors and ship systems, as they have numerous positive effects on the economy, public health, and the environment. Digital Twin (DT) technology, first utilized by NASA, is particularly important since it has gained popularity recently across many sectors for improved decision-making, especially in the design and management of complex systems.

In essence, DTs make it possible to build a digital model of a ship that is fed information gathered by the actual ship’s sensors. These digital representations can then be used to mimic and/or optimize a variety of ship-related activities and processes, and the outcomes can then be utilized to manually or automatically execute the required actions on the actual ship. It is simple to see how digital twins might enable decision support systems for decarbonization and performance enhancement in the shipping sector given the complexity of managing a ship energy system supporting optimal propulsion and cargo operations in a mobile environment.