Smart Solutions in a Digitized Future
By Remco van der List, Design Manager GustoMSC
Digitalization is an establishing technological driver of change in the offshore industry. The potential is huge in terms of increasing safety and operational efficiency, whilst at the same time reducing operational costs. This article addresses some of the recent pioneering technologies that benefit from this transformation.
GustoMSC has developed a suite of proprietary software geared to the specific requirements of its designs and customers. Instead of using regular off-the-shelf analysis software, the company developed its own software allowing them to efficiently perform analyses for its customers’ units, while making sure to follow the latest developments in technology, insights, and design standards.
For jack-ups this has led to the development of the Legload software, which the company uses in all its designs and site-specific assessments to study the interaction between a jack-up, the seabed it is standing on, and the action of waves, current, and wind. The analysis can be performed according to any design standard required and the results are easily interpreted and compared to design limits. The version that clients can use themselves, called the Site Feasibility Tool, has all the properties and limits of jack-ups in a client’s fleet already programmed in. This version allows the client to quickly assess the suitability of its jack-up for a specific site, and requires only a limited number of properties to be entered by the client in a simple and understandable interface.
The dynamic response of a jack-up to the waves is an increasingly important aspect of the type of analyses GustoMSC performs. For this purpose the company has developed the Simsep program. The dynamic behavior of a jack-up in sea states can be studied by simulating time series of various sea states. One significant recent development is that the company is now able to perform the highly accurate simulation of extreme irregular waves.
All these advances were partly driven by specific customer requirements, and were instrumental in allowing jack-up operations in the demanding northern part of the North Sea. Owing to these advances in available computer power, and the improvements in software, the company frequently runs statistical analyses involving many hundreds of hours of simulated storm conditions in a couple of hours. Until recently GustoMSC relied much more on deterministic analyses that would cost way more time to get a workable result.
In addition, GustoMSC’ parent company NOV has developed cloud-based big-data solutions, offering its clients a website dashboard that allows them to monitor ongoing operations, the health of their hardware, and predict required maintenance. This big data allows GustoMSC to gain even more feedback on the performance of the units, improving the understanding of both technical and operational aspects.
Bottom-founded offshore structures, such as jack-ups, have to be able to withstand earthquake events (seismic loading) of which the intensity depends on the area of operation and the risk involved. Changes in regulatory standards (e.g. ISO 19905-1), awareness in the sector, and the industry trend to install jack-ups in more seismically active regions mean that seismic analyses have become an important consideration in demonstrating the safety of a jack-up operation at a particular site, or in the design of new-built units.
There is a significant growth of interest for offshore wind-turbine installation in the Japanese and Taiwanese regions. Wind farm projects are slowly materializing in these regions; the first Japanese construction jack-up was delivered in February to Penta Ocean – the CP-8001, a GustoMSC GJ-3750C design based on proven technology, suitable for various installation works. From the start, severe earthquakes in these regions were significant for the design of this unit. The CP-8001’s unique features allow highly efficient operations in Japanese ocean side areas with harsh wave and weather conditions, while not giving in on the welfare of the crew. The enactment of relevant Japanese regulations will undoubtedly provide further potential for offshore wind farms.
Considering seismic loading directly in an early design phase of new units allows for an optimized design where seismic resistance can be assured with a minimal cost and weight. Seismic analysis allows GustoMSC to provide designs tailor made for the Far East offshore wind farms. The advanced calculation capabilities facilitate an increase in the safety in the offshore industry and, at the same time, enables contractors to safely reduce the level of conservatism where possible and take maximum advantage of the capabilities of their equipment.
All these new technologies will profoundly affect the ways in which people work at sea as they provide the resources the world requires for its growing population and increasing living standards. GustoMSC’s future is based on continuous development of smart and safe solutions, with digitalization forming a key consideration in most of its new developments.