Digital twin enabled structural integrity management : critical review and framework development

Li, Shen and Brennan, Feargal (2024) Digital twin enabled structural integrity management : critical review and framework development. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part M: Journal of Engineering for the Maritime Environment. pp. 1-21. ISSN 1475-0902 (

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This paper presents a critical review of literature on the emerging technology known as digital twin and its application in structural integrity management for marine structures. The review defines digital twin in relation to structural integrity management as a virtual representation of a physical structure that mirrors the same structural conditions in real time. Twinning is a dynamic process that involves reducing the discrepancy between the virtual representation and physical structure, which is achieved with the aid of monitored data. Regarding the state-of-the-art concerning marine structure applications, all require the creation of a finite element model to represent the physical structure. Several practical schemes for physical to virtual interconnection have been proposed, but few researchers have concentrated on virtual to physical feedback. In addition, most works have focused only on assessing the current states of structures. To address this, a digital twin-based monitoring framework is proposed and three key enabling technologies, namely model updating, real-time simulation, and data-driven forecasting are demonstrated using a numerical case study. Such technologies enable structural diagnostics, as well as prognostics, to support decision making such as inspection/maintenance planning. Based on the case study, the opportunities and associated challenges of digital twin are discussed. For instance, to fully exploit the potential of digital twin, challenges related to monitoring systems such as standardisation, enhanced redundancy for long-term application, and monitored data quality assurance need to be addressed. Further, because digital twin can avail a vast amount of data, a dedicated data mining capability should also be incorporated.