The digital twin technology platform has not yet achieved the expected acceptance and wider implementation in the maritime industry. So far, most of the focus of the digital twin application discussions have centred around what to learn from big data in ship operation, and to a lesser extent, has anybody extended this discussion to include the benefits such new technology can contribute to the enhancement of the upstream ship concept and basic design activities, as well as detailed engineering. This paper particularly pays attention to this latter, partly forgotten, application area. There could be many reasons behind such a reluctance to take on new technology and utilize it to its full potential. It is hypothesized and argued by this article that the development has focused on applications that are too complex, too expensive and reflect, to a little extent, real-life needs. Lack of effective data transfer and transaction interphases among relevant stakeholders is another important factor creating these inefficiencies.  This paper document how and why such inefficiencies in novel digitization technology adoption and adaptation exist and hamper the progress of achieving noticeable benefits of such implementations and how such development hurdles can be eliminated.

Real-life user cases and several contributions in the professional literature suggest that more effective implementation of digital twin technology requires further discussions and investigations relating to three important aspects: i) a common and accepted definition of what is a digital twin; ii) an agreed-upon scalable and systemic approach to what is the solution space for a digital twin solution and iii) which systemic method to be used for digital twin development. Digital-twin technology must combine effective ship in operation and ship design feedback and feed forwarding, including their inherent people involvement and market behaviour.  This article reviews the status of digital twin technology in the maritime domain and proposes a common definition of the digital twin. The latter part of the article proposes a systemic perspective for effective digital twin development and a method for a goal-oriented digital twin development in the novel ship design domain as well for ships in operations. Real-life user-case examples are elaborated upon to support our suggestions for improvement.

The paper summarizes that, in its current form, the success rate of the digital twin technology implementation is so far, limited.  Thus, the short- and long-term benefits to be achieved from digital twin applications in relation to vessel operations and their designs are also limited. This paper advises ways for improvement of the present situation.

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