On one of his previous article Jan Van Os vice president of marine industry strategy for Siemens PLM Software explains how digitalization in the shipbuilding industry supports the opportunity of the creation of more sustainable ships. The fact and figures are there, the International Maritime Organization adopted regulations that aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions by half, per 2008 levels, by 2050.

Pressured by those new game rules, marine industrial players have no other choice but bending themselves to those and finding alternatives to reduce their emissions footprint, still by bringing their product to the market on a fast-pace.


That being said, let’s try to think from where the gas emissions can be reduced and how. It seems clear that ship powertrain is one the main source of exhaust and that from where the gas emissions can start being reduced. Re-imagining the powertrain of a ship is a huge work and opting for its hybridization is even more ambitious.


Vessels’ hybridization, too ambitious you said?

Nevertheless, bringing hybrid technology into the vessels industry is something very well considered as explained in a report from the Lappeenranta University of Technology from Finland [ref.1]. What I retained from this state of the art is that:

First, yes electrical systems have a fair role to take in future energy technology and yes hybrid vessel technology can take advantage of fast developing battery storages. I also figured out that, yes maybe that an ambitious thing to for vessel hybridization but that’s something already adopted since the last 20 years with the first electro-diesel systems where icebreakers due to advanced drive dynamics. This reading brought us to the conclusion that marine vessels will adapt increasingly energy storages in the coming years for:

– Reduced emissions for climate and sea protection

– Better fuel economy, lower operational costs

– Better dynamic performance


So, well yes hybridization is more than an option. It’s the path to get into. Getting faster to the market with hybrid vessels is another thing, and that’s how we end up with digitalization.

On that same article I mentioned earlier, Jan Vas Os explains how much digitalization can be key to success for the development of sustainable ships. ([ref.2] – link to the series of article)


Sustainable Ship Design_Future Ships_Sustainable Shipping.png

Faster hybridization thanks to digitalization

So, let’s come back to the powertrain hybridization we mentioned at the very beginning and let’s combine this with our digitalization topic.

One of the first steps of the creation of the digital twin is to go through simulation. And, the very first step is opting for system simulation. This is the early phase where you can easily start to define your powertrain architecture over a short development time.  Re-thinking the powertrain systems is about “to optimize not only our engines but reconsider the architecture of the entire systems”. And, this is not our own statement, but Hyun Sook Yoo’s one – who is a Senior Researcher at Hyundai Heavy Industries.


I had the chance to meet Hyun Sook Yoo, an early adopter in the marine field of system simulation, and discuss how she worked with Romain Nicolas to use our Simcenter system simulation solution Simcenter Amesim. During their collaboration, they focus on the optimization of the engine design and control strategy, in order a new generation of hybridized powertrain to the market. The senior researcher and her team are converting their existing engine models to Simcenter Amesim with real-time capability and hybrid ship integration. Hyun Sook Yoo explained that “HHI engine and machinery division is improving the whole engine system, as well as developing electric systems that integrate IoT technology with the electric parts.” ([ref.3] – link to the whole video)


The ways to make this conversion successful and bring faster hybrid vessel in the market by using Simcenter Amesim have been to:

  • Validate high-frequency engine model versus the baseline model in steady and transient operations
  • Generate a mean value engine model for Hardware-In-the-Loop validation (HiL)
  • Integrate engine model into hybrid ship architecture for analysis on different load cases 



The deployment of Simcenter Amesim in HHI engine and machinery division has been successful while it enables, on one hand, HHI engine engineers to obtain simulation results in a short time as well as streamline modeling process from engine design to ship integration. 

On another hand – and that’s how I close the loop and come back to our start about how digitalization is key to bring sustainable vessels to the market – Simcenter Amesim is an essential tool for HHI to efficiently assess fuel consumption and NOx emissions of their hybrid vessel over different load cases and understand how they can fit with the emissions target set by IMO.


[1] Hybridization of ships – a co-operation between the industry and the research institutes to reduce operational expenses and environmental footprint, by Olli Pyrhönen: http://www.kvarken.org/assets/Uploads/5-Vaasa-220416-OP-Final2.pdf


[2] Digitalization is key for sustainable shipping success, by Jos Van Os: https://community.plm.automation.siemens.com/t5/Digital-Transformations/Digitalization-is-key-for-sustainable-shipping-success/ba-p/512488 


[3] Hyundai Heavy Industries – Optimizing engine design using Simcenter Amesim: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcxvBnnhCm4