Discover how computer simulation can revolutionize the maritime industry

  • 14/11/2023
  • 15 minutes

Computer simulation is revolutionizing the maritime industry in many ways, providing a more accurate and comprehensive view of maritime projects and operations. With the ability to virtually model and test different scenarios, computer simulation offers a competitive advantage for the companies and institutions that adopt it.

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That is, it’s a powerful and very valuable technology for the shipping industry, offering new possibilities and innovative solutions to the challenges of the sector. If you are interested in the subject and want to find out how computer simulation can revolutionize the shipping industry, keep reading and understand in more detail!

What is computer simulation?

Computer simulation is a technique that allows you to model and study complex systems and their behaviours in controlled virtual environments. It uses mathematical models and algorithms to simulate its dynamics, such as industrial processes, transport, financial, biological systems, among others.

The process allows researchers, engineers, and other professionals to test hypotheses, evaluate alternatives, and take informed decisions without the need for expensive and dangerous physical experiments or tests.

In addition, this type of simulation can be used to optimize the performance of systems, predict them under specific conditions, and visualize their dynamics in real time. It’s technology, once again, helping to make processes more accurate and agile.

The combination of mathematical models and state-of-the-art technology makes computer simulation a valuable tool for solving complex problems. It also helps support decisions in a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing, health, energy, and the environment.

How does computer simulation impact the shipping industry?

The impact on the shipping industry advances rapidly — computer simulations allow you to reduce the number of prototypes, designing everything correctly from the first time. And this is a positive point, since the segment has always faced the challenge of developing complex and refined ships, equipped with modern technologies, in shorter periods of time.

Here, we can include other recurring deadlocks, such as requirements in tight design cycles, optimized safety, high-quality equipment, speed, cargo capacity, handling of communication systems, and other aspects.

The shipping industry still has to deal with meeting contractual requirements, the need for customizations to meet customer needs, as well as geographical and environmental challenges. Achieving these goals is challenging, of course, but it is something that can be made easier through the use of the right technology.

Any late changes to these processes can have a significant financial impact. And this is where computer simulation comes into play, to prevent these setbacks and ensure the efficiency of naval projects.

With it, engineers accurately design and conduct virtual tests before the prototyping phase. This is critical to the successful development of projects, as it gives professionals the opportunity to visualize and evaluate the performance of parts and systems before their actual construction.

What are the most direct benefits?

Shipbuilders need to develop a robust design to evaluate, develop and test models that verify the desired performance of the final product. Because we’re talking about something big, a lot of changes tend to occur during the process of aligning and fine-tuning.

These are situations that can cause delays in the schedule, as well as increased costs and delivery of products that do not meet market and company specifications. Therefore, this increases the risk of customer dissatisfaction or even recalls.

Using simulation in the development of these products represents a significant change in culture and its paradigms. Currently, many shipbuilding industries, both commercial and military, are using this strategy from the performance design phase to the production phase. The aim is to explore options, identify problems and optimize the performance of ships before they even “leave the drawing board”.

Simulation allows critical and accurate decisions to be made about functionality, geometry and materials at the beginning of the product development cycle, for example, based on the results obtained. This also helps to decrease the number of physical tests — a time-consuming, delicate and costly process.

In the simulation of naval product development, several technologies are employed, such as fluid dynamics, design optimization, electromagnetism, structural analysis, multiphysics simulations and acoustic prediction. Through the application of different analysis tools in several stages, it is possible to simulate with great precision and correctly direct the elaboration of the project.

How is it used in the shipping industry projects?

As we have seen, computer simulation has a significant impact on the shipping industry. It allows designers, engineers and shipbuilders the possibility to evaluate and optimize the performance and safety characteristics of their projects before building or implementing changes on a vessel.

Some of the ways in which computer simulation impacts the shipping industry include the aspects we will look at in the next topics. Understand how everything happens in practice!

Ship design and optimization

The computer simulation allows experts in the field to evaluate the energy efficiency, engine performance, endurance and movement of vessels in different weather and sea conditions.

Maritime safety

Computer simulation can also be used to simulate emergencies such as onboard fires, oil and gas (O&G) leaks, collisions and shipwrecks, helping to identify weaknesses and assess the responsiveness of vessels and their crews.

Cargo tests

The computer simulation also enables manufacturers to test the cargo capacity of ships and the impact of different loads and stowage configurations.

Simulation of operations

It is also possible to simulate ship operations in ports, maritime terminals and other areas of operation. This helps optimize resource usage, increase efficiency, and minimize downtime.


Computer simulation can also be useful for training crews and ensure they are prepared to handle emergencies.

Reduction of fuel consumption

Simulation is a valuable tool to also increase the efficiency of vessels, for example: more containers are transported with the same or even less fuel. More efficient engines, hydrodynamic hulls and optimized propulsion systems significantly decrease fuel consumption and ship-generated emissions.

A popular alternative to produce vessels with lower fuel consumption is the optimization of the propulsion system. The simulation analyses the performance of the propeller and the system, varying the navigation conditions to find the best combination of propeller and geometry. This includes assessing thrust, torque, drag or other characteristics that the vessel’s design requires.

What are the prospects for advancing computer simulation in the shipping industry?

It is quite easy to see how much computer simulation is as a valuable tool for the shipping industry. It helps improve the safety, efficiency and performance of vessels by ensuring that operations are conducted efficiently and productively.

The simulations also have many other applications in addition to the ones we have presented. They can help, for example, in the design of stability and manoeuvrability. Thus, they collaborate to reduce the amount of water ballast used by ships and to reduce noise and pollutants harmful to marine life.

In this sense, the prospects are positive and the advancement of the use of computer simulation in the shipping industry is growing rapidly. Some of the trends include the aspects listed below.

Improvement in efficiency

Computer simulation is widely used to improve the efficiency of ships, helping to reduce operational and maintenance costs and increase energy efficiency. The trend is for these analyses and applications to become more robust and accurate over time.

Digital Design

Virtual prototypes are already a reality in other industries. Computer simulation allows engineers and designers to create digital models of ships and test them before construction, helping to ensure greater project success as well as reduce risks.

Integration of emerging technologies

Computer simulation is integrating with other emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), and data analytics. The idea is to provide an even more complete and accurate view of the performance of the vessel and its operations.

Industry standardization

Computer simulation is becoming a standard tool for the maritime industry, helping to ensure the consistency and quality of projects and their operations.

Growing adoption

Companies and institutions around the world are embracing computer simulation. It is critical in automotive vehicle safety, energy distribution planning, product distribution logistics, and even weather forecasting and airplane pilot training. Therefore, the demand for more advanced and improved solutions increases, which will also benefit the maritime segment.

In general, we can say that the prospects for the advancement of computer simulation in the maritime industry and in the blue economy are very promising. After all, the technology is expected to continue to expand and become even more valuable for maritime projects and operations.

As can be seen, computer simulation has become a basic tool for the shipping industry. It enables you to take important decisions about robust projects based on accurate results and helps reduce the number of test models (a time-consuming and expensive process).

Thus, we can say that computer simulation is a powerful resource, which helps to develop even more efficient, safe, technological and sustainable maritime products.

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