Safe and Cost-Effective Offshore Installation Starts with Deck Layout

Choosing the best deck layout is crucial to the efficiency of the operational and service quality of any offshore installation vessel. Therefore, IHC IQIP is becoming increasingly involved in the handling of structures and piles on deck of installation vessels.  

Efficiency might be officially defined as the ability to accomplish something with the least waste of time and effort, but ultimately it means competence in performance. The offshore wind industry can achieve much by increasing efficiency, not only within the supply chain as a whole (the focus of the Offshore WIND Conference), but also in how projects are handled from A to Z.

Luckily, there are companies who can engineer the tools and offer project advice to reach these goals. One of these companies is IHC IQIP. Offshore WIND spoke to some people within the company involved in offshore wind, including Marc Doorduin, Paul Hitzerd and Remco Lowenthal to find out more.

Safety first  

“In any project IHC IQIP always puts safety first,” says Remco Lowenthal, Sales Manager Offshore Wind. “This is an important factor in deck space planning. For example, how can we use the square footage on deck to the advantage of our customers, as well as decreasing costs and reduce the number of lifts and to minimise human interactions during installation.”  

Integrated solutions are currently a hot topic as companies seek enhanced efficiency, preferably through one point of contact. With this in mind, Royal IHC integrated four of its business units – IHC Hydrohammer, IHC Handling Systems, IHC Sea Steel and IHC Fundex Equipment – into a new organisation, operating as IHC IQIP.

“As IHC IQIP we can offer a fully integrated solution for on- and offshore installation, foundation and decommissioning to our customers within the oil and gas, offshore wind, and coastal and civil industries,” says Sales Director Marc Doorduin.

Advisory services  

“We prefer to become involved in a project very early on, in order to share knowledge on how to approach complex tasks and advise on handling and lifting,” says Paul Hitzerd, Manager Advisory Services, a department focused on helping customers by offering expertise, advice and support.

“The key benefit to having us step in early is that we can offer a better cost calculation by considering and evaluating the necessary steps,” he adds. “And of course using the right equipment.”  

For example installing monopiles requires specific knowledge of piling, as well as deciding upon the right layout for the installation vessel to allow for efficient piling. Hitzerd acknowledges that a contractor knows more about his own vessel than IHC IQIP.

“Deck space planning also means you are constantly innovating, because no project is the same and neither are the weather conditions or seabed properties,” he says. “On each project, specific engineering is required, which also makes for the development of smart solutions.”  

Dynamic analyses  

Within Advisory Services, IHC IQIP analyses every stage of the process. These dynamic analyses help to determine the fatigue in the monopile and how IHC IQIP can improve the way foundations are installed. Using the correct installation method can in some occasions also increase the life expectancy of a monopile.

“As wind farms move into ever-deeper waters, the size of monopiles is increasing substantially,” adds Hitzerd. “Our hammers and handling tools play a significant role in this development and make it possible to install even the largest piles. As such, increasingly large hammers are required. The Hydrohammer® for instance, was designed to allow for optimised piling and can be used in parallel with other IHC IQIP systems, such as the Integrated Monopile Installer and existing pile sleeves.”  

In addition, the lifting and movement of the hammer has been improved and the new up-end cradles make transport more efficient. The Hydrohammer® also allows IHC IQIP to assist with even the largest hammer demands.

Wave heights  

New piling methods such as HiLo (high frequency low energy), SMART pile driving (SPD) and efficient pile driving (EPD) have also been introduced – allowing for successful installations also in situations with strict regulations for noise or other design criteria.

IHC IQIP’s experience within the oil and gas industry lends itself to the successful application of jackets and tripods for foundation work when monopiles are no longer feasible. Post piling solutions with levelling tools and jacket pile grippers to enhance operational weather window. IHC IQIP also assesses how equipment could be further developed and enhanced.

In regards to offshore wind – site investigations, seabed surveys and calculating weather windows all help to decrease costs. All these steps allow IHC IQIP to improve the processes on board vessels.

Future prospects  

“To allow for increased efficiency in the future, we need to know more about the life expectancy of turbines,” comments Hitzerd. “With decommissioning looming large, we need to consider this when installing new turbines. Developing the necessary tools will allow for safe and efficient decommissioning in the future.”  

Lowenthal foresees a bright future for offshore wind: “I believe the industry will continue to develop. Offshore wind will become a more stable industry over time and continue to prosper. Though I do think we will see many consolidations, smaller companies will become part of larger firms. In addition, foundations will grow in size, weight and length, and floating secures will secure a place within the market – not for Europe, but definitely for Japan.”  

IHC IQIP’s experience in the mooring of floating oil production systems means it can offer cost-effective piling spread packages and handling tools for the mooring of floating wind turbines. It can also enhance the service level of any offshore installation vessel through its involvement in the handling of structures and piles on deck.

“Offshore wind is an important business,” concludes Doorduin. “Almost 50 per cent of our relate to this market, and choosing the right time span to transport and install is the key to increasing the efficiency of the industry. Standardisation is still in progress, which equates to numerous developments and opportunities for IHC IQIP to use our expertise.”

This article first appeared in the October 2016 edition of the Offshore WIND Magazine.