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Fibre is the future

02 Jul 2014

Royal IHC's fibre rope and winch system undergoing inspection

Fibre rope has been the missing link in deepwater installation, says Erik Van
der Woude of Royal IHC.
There is, as most know, an exponential increase of equipment weight with deeper water
but steel cable gets to the point where it really isnt feasible somewhere around the
2,000m depth, explains Mr Van der Woude.
For example, lifting 125 tonnes@1m/s in 2,500m water depth means you actually have
to have 240 tonnes of pull and around 3,000 kW of installed power to cope with the line.
This power ratio reaches a staggering 1:3 at 3,500m water depth, explains Mr Van der
Woude. On the other hand, as fibre rope is near to the weight of the surrounding water,
the winch only has to have the capacity to deal with the payload and would just need
1,600 kW of power.
However, fibre rope comes with its own issues, including a lower heat resistance, is also
more likely to abrade and has high creep properties which limits application on the kind
of double drum traction winches common to installation vessels.
The trouble is caused by what Mr Van der Woude calls the Three Ts of time, tension
and temperature, this last being potentially the biggest issue, being created by friction
from both outside the rope, and internally from fibre on fibre contact. Not only does fibre
rope tend to lose its capacity as low as 65C, it can suffer catastrophic failure at 130C,
much lower than metal cable. This of course goes up if Active Heave Compensation
(AHC) technology is used as the same piece of rope runs over the winch time and time
again during AHC deployment - a phenomena referred to as Cyclic Bending Over
Sheave (CBOS).
Although DSM Dyneema et al have gone a long way to reducing this by high tech
coatings internal friction, slippage and temperature are still an issue, a vicious circle
where the rope lengthens when it gets tensioned, creating slippage which then creates
more friction and an increase in rope temperature.
So, IHC Merwede have rethought the handling system, the winch itself, and has come
up with a split-drum traction winch with a software algorithm that controls torque and
speed of the respective drum parts, acting together to mitigate against slippage.

It has to be said that this technology has been waiting in the wings for its moment for
some time. However, it probably wont be long before the Royal IHC fibre rope and
winch system actually starts deep-water tests on one of its customers vessels, and this
may well herald a much needed change of thinking.
By Stevie Knight

Four-track subsea trencher targets

windfarm market
18 Jul 2014

The Hi-Traq trencher can cope with gradients up to 20' (IHC)

UK based IHC Engineering Business has introduced the worlds first four-tracked
subsea trencher, developed for operation in shallow waters and specifically for
cable burial at offshore windfarms.
An area that has presented particular technical challenges with the development of
offshore wind is installation and burial of inter-array and export cables. It is a challenge
as many windfarms are in shallow-water locations; areas presenting a lower risk of
collision from others who ply their trade and leisure businesses on the open water.
But there are many locations where turbines are actually high and dry at low water. The
resulting high wave loadings, along with strong currents and variable seabed conditions
result in the need for a specific amphibious ROV solution for the laying and burying of
IHCs Hi-Traq was presented to offshore wind industry professionals from the UK,
Europe and the USA at a special event recently at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland.
The new remotely operated vehicle has been developed into the most efficient tracked
trencher, capable of tackling the full range of challenges mentioned above. In particular,
currents on the seabed present a requirement for the trencher to have a minimum
weight to guarantee safe, accurate working and efficient trenching operations.
Chris Jones, Product Manager of the Subsea Vehicle Team at IHC Engineering
Business, explained how the Hi-Traq differed from existing trenching assets: Features
such as the independent four-track undercarriage and a flexible tooling arrangement
were engineered as integral parts of the design, and have remained the main focus of
the project throughout.

Installation of subsea cables, in particular the inter-array elements linking individual and
groups of turbines with the substations requires high levels of manoeuvrability, a feature
IHC claim sets the Hi-Traq apart from the competition. Features include an independent
four-track undercarriage and flexible tooling arrangement engineered as integral parts of
the design. The design allows the trencher to climb slopes with gradients of up to 20.
Hi-Traq has been successfully tested and demonstrated at IHCs facility at South
Shields in the Port of Tyne where a special terrain was created to mimic seabed
conditions. The test programme has confirmed that the Hi-Traq trencher is capable of
fulfilling all of our functional requirements, said Mr Jones.
IHC Engineering Business Ltd is a member of the Dutch shipbuilding group, until
recently known as IHC Merwede. The company commemorated a significant and proud
occasion in their long history recently when His Majesty the King of The Netherlands
awarded the honorary title of Koninklijk (Royal) to IHC Merwede, now known as Royal
IHC. Companies nominated for this prestigious award must have been in existence for
at least 100 years and have prestige with regard to their image, size and reliability. A
look at Royal IHCs profile immediately demonstrates how they qualified for this award.
By Peter Barker