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Research ship Polarstern as "digital twin"

Famous research vessel now has "digital twin"

The "Polarstern" is the flagship of German polar research. The icebreaker has been sailing in Arctic and Antarctic waters on scientific missions for the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) since 1982. Designed for temperatures as low as -50°C, the Polarstern is even able to winter in the perennial ice for certain research projects. 

Such extreme conditions require the vessel to have dependable "lifelines" – the heating and drinking water installations, for example, are constructed from the tried and proven Profipress copper pipeline system. This offers key advantages during operation, but also after months of service under the harshest conditions. The established press connecting technology allows even extensive repairs or replacement installations to be carried out swiftly and safely during the brief berthing times in the shipyard. Not least because the cold pressing technology eliminates the risk of fire, for example.

First point cloud of a research vessel

Just as important is one of the latest Viega services – the digitisation of objects by its partner company DiConneX. Within two days, a 3D laser scanner generated a point cloud of various decks and rooms on the Polarstern. The vessel now has a digital twin with saved as-built data. This allows researchers to arrange and equip their laboratories on the vessel as they like using a virtual model online before setting out.

In terms of machine technology too, this kind of digitisation can offer significant advantages, as DiConneX CEO Jörg Jungedeitering explains: "The point cloud allows us to configure the vessel's technical equipment, from the engine room to the crow's nest, in detail, with all the key documents stored and, for all assemblies and all installation components and so on, keep the information required for operation, preventive maintenance or repairs up to date".


It would be feasible, for example, during one of the Polarstern's missions, to reduce berthing times in the shipyard by identifying maintenance measures on the digital twin in advance. Or offer online assistance to any repairs required on the high seas.

Object Research ship Polarstern
Location Bremerhaven, Germany
Year 2021
Object Type Renovation
Area of use Transport