QTrencher 1600 and 48Te A-Frame Delivered to Van Oord Commences First Job

August 8, 2018

Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd (SMD) are pleased to announce that the QTrencher 1600 and its associated deck equipment package delivered in April 2018 to Van Oord, has commenced its first job at Borkum-2 wind farm.

Van Oord’s deck equipment for the QT1600, Dig-It, included a 48Te launch and recovery system (LARS) with A-Frame, cursor docking head, umbilical winch with snatch limiter and hydraulic power unit ensuring safe and reliable deployment of the QTrencher 1600 in higher sea states.

Paul Hatchett, Managing Director SMD Deck Equipment comments, “SMD have been delivering safe and reliable launch and recovery and cable handling equipment for over 35 years, and we have used our expertise to deliver a Lloyds Register approved system to our new customer, Van Oord. We have designed this LARS to offer flexibility and ease of maintenance to our customer. The compact design means that Van Oord are not restricted on the layout of their vessel, with the system being compact enough for operation across the beam and over the stern. Together with SMD’s QTrencher 1600 Van Oord will be able to increase their operational window, working in conditions up to sea state 6.”

The deck equipment comes equipped with a state-of-the-art cursor launch system which allows high sea state deployment using the lift winch. SMD’s cursor launch system protects the vehicle’s umbilical and ensures operational loads are within safety factors at all times, even when the air weight of the vehicle exceeds the safe working load of the umbilical.

Furthermore, the integration of the snatch limiting device means the system is able to handle transitions through the splash zone, from heavy-in-air to light-in-water without transferring shock loads to the umbilical. This function prevents the umbilical from becoming overloaded, and also handles slack umbilical to prevent damage during vehicle recovery which can be caused by vessel motion in high sea states.

The QT1600, Dig-It, has commenced cable installation work which should be finished in July 2018. Once completed in 2019, the Borkum-2 offshore wind farm will deliver green energy to an equivalent of 460,000 households. The offshore wind farm is located 54 kilometres off the coast of Lower Saxony, Germany.

General Deck Equipment Trenching

SMD to Contribute to Offshore Wind Foundations Research Project

November 2, 2016

September 2015: SMD are pleased to announce that they are set to contribute to a major offshore wind research project lead by The University of Dundee. The project will look to determine whether cheaper, more environmentally friendly and more effective foundations can be developed for the offshore renewables industry.

The project, funded by a £1million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, will look at the use of screw piles for offshore installations. These are foundations which are screwed into the ground and currently widely used onshore, for example, to support motorway signs and gantries.

Currently, the main foundation solutions being considered for offshore wind installations are driven piles, large monopiles or concrete gravity-based structures (GBS). Driving of piles in large numbers offshore causes concerns over plant availability and impact on mariScrew fas e mammals. There are also concerns over the limit of practical monopile development and the high material demands of GBS. Screw piles have the potential to overcome these issues and are scalable for future development from current onshore systems which have relatively low noise installation and are efficient in terms of both tensile and compressive capacity.

The research has the potential to make it easier to deploy screw pile foundations for offshore renewables. This project will develop foundations able to deal with current water depths and will provide understanding of the behaviour of piles as water depths and the demands on the foundations increase.

“The UK has challenging targets for expansion of energy from renewables with the potential for over 5000 offshore wind turbines by 2020,” said Dr Mike Brown, Senior Lecturer in Civil Engineering at the University of Dundee who is leading the project.

“The necessary move to deeper water will increase cost and put greater demands on subsea structures and foundations. There is already cost pressure on the offshore sector as people wait to see if it can be made more affordable, so we really need to find better solutions for how we develop capacity.

“Screw piles are potentially very attractive as a lower cost and more environmentally friendly option. However, there are significant challenges to be addressed. If we are to develop them for offshore use they will likely be larger than those used onshore, and face different pressures, so our work will look at whether they can meet the performance and efficiency issues.

“By harnessing the installation and performance benefits of screw pile/anchor technology, the results of the project will hopefully contribute to an overall cost reduction in electricity generated by renewable means and increase the public’s confidence in the future viability of this energy source,” said Dr Brown.

“We have a long-history of supporting industrial academic partnerships, said SMD’s Ian Bryan, Business Development Manager for their Trenching, Mining and Renewables business unit.  “Much of intellectual property and many of our product features originate from research, and our customers benefit from the insights these bring into design of efficient and effective solutions. When compared to piling, screw piles offers significant potential benefits such as a reduction in noise during installation and lower costs. We look forward to developing an understanding of how this well proven approach can be adapted at scale for use in the construction of offshore wind farms, and to passing the associated benefits on to our customers.”

The project will also include contributions from the Universities of Durham and Southampton and also private sector partners Cathie Associates Ltd, Screwfast Foundations Ltd, and SeaRoc Group.

General

VAMOS Project Progresses

November 2, 2016

August 2015: SMD have now completed their first deliverable for the VAMOS (Viable Alternative Mine Operating System) project, finalizing the system architecture on schedule. The consortium made up of 17 project partners, is now progressing to deliver a number of spec documents as well as a project manual.

VAMOS is a 42-month Research & Development Project, which was launched in March this year as part of the Horizon 2020 programme. At an estimated cost of approximately 12.6 milllion Euros, the project will help to provide an opportunity to tap into the wealth of unexploited European mineral resources.

The VAMOS Project team are working towards the design and build of a robotic, underwater mining prototype and associated launch and recovery equipment, which will be used to perform field tests at four EU minesites. Three of these are inland inactive submerged mineral deposits and the other is offshore.  The prototype will build on successful deep-sea excavation techniques provide a safer and cleaner option for extracting currently unreachable and/or uneconomic mineral deposits.

SMD are acting as Technical Manager and Work-Package Leader for design/build and site testing, with manufacture of the prototype to take place at SMD’s production site in Wallsend, North East England.

The consortium, with members from nine EU countries, is working under the coordination of BMT Group Ltd. and includes Damen Shipyards Group; Instituto de Engenharia Sistemas e Computadores; Fugro EMU Limited; Zentrum für Telematik e.V.; Montanuniversität Leoben; Minerália, Lda; Marine Minerals Ltd; Empresa de Desenvolvimento Mineiro SA; Sandvik Mining and Construction G.m.b.H; Geological survey of Slovenia; La Palma Research Centre for Future Studies; European Federation of Geologists; Trelleborg Ede Bv; Federalni zavod za Geologijo and Fondacija za obnovu I razvoj regije Vareš.

VAMOS will also look to enhance currently available underwater sensing, spatial awareness, navigational and positioning technology, as well as providing an intergrated solution for efficient real-time monitoring of the parameters associated with potential environmental impacts.

General

Commissioning of Final SPT Begins

November 2, 2016

May 2015: Our Mining team saw another major milestone in the first quarter of 2015 as the commissioning of the third and final of the Seafloor Production Tools (SPT), the Auxiliary Cutter, began.

The three SPTs have been in assembly in SMD’s main Wallsend heavy equipment assembly hall, known as the Turbinia Works, throughout 2014.  The launch and recovery equipment was assembled at various locations in Norway, Poland and Korea and is already complete.

Nautilus’ CEO, Mike Johnston said “We are very excited that commissioning of the final of the three SPTs has begun. With the Bulk Cutter and the Collecting Machine having already begun Factory Acceptance Testing and now with the Auxiliary Cutter underway, we are on track to complete this testing phase and take delivery of the three SPTs in Q4 2015.”

SMD’s Managing Director, Mike Jones commented “This is always an important and delicate phase, particularly when developing such large scale and high power technology. The experience from the first two SPTs will be a great help in this.  We look forward to their despatch for wet testing later this year.”

So How Will They Work?

The excavation and collection of mineralised material has been split into three individual tasks, with each carried out by a different SPT. The Auxiliary Cutter is designed as the pioneering tool which prepares the rugged sea bed for the more powerful Bulk Cutter. These two tools gather the excavated material; the third, the Collecting Machine, will collect the cut material by drawing it in as seawater slurry with internal pumps and pushing it through a flexible pipe to the subsea pump and on to the vessel via the Riser and Lifting System.

The Auxiliary Cutter weighs in at 250 tonnes. It is a preparatory machine that deals with rough terrain and creates benches for the other SPTs to work on. It will operate on tracks with spud assistance and has a boom mounted cutting head for flexibility.

The Bulk Cutter is the heaviest of the three SPTs, weighing 310 tonnes when fully assembled. It is designed to be the high productivity machine responsible for the bulk of production.

The Collecting Machine is the lightest of the three SPTs, weighing 200 tonnes when fully assembled. It is designed to collect material cut from the seafloor by drawing it in as seawater slurry with internal pumps and pushing it through a flexible pipe to the Riser and Lifting System and onto the vessel.

What will they mine?

The vehicles will be used to mine polymetallic sulphides, rich in copper and gold, at the Solwara 1 deposit which sits on the seafloor at a water depth of some 1600 metres, off the coast of Papua New Guinea. The mine site boasts a copper grade of approximately 7%, which is significantly higher than land-based copper mines, where the copper grade today averages typically 0.6%. In addition, gold grades of well over 20 g/tonne have been recorded in some intercepts at Solwara 1 and the average grade is approximately 6 g/tonne.

General