March 26, 2019
Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd. are pleased to announce completion of the first QTrencher 500 compact, high power trenching system developed for submarine cable installation and maintenance specialists, SubCom.
The new QTrencher 500 system provides additional 100HP versus its QT400 predecessor, without a weight penalty for a powerful, cost effective solution. The system combines proven SMD cable maintenance tools in an ultra-compact and lightweight arrangement, to deliver ultimate power within a small footprint. The high voltage transmission provides maximum thrust and jetting performance enabling trenching capability to a depth of up to 3.0m with multiple passes dependent on the ground conditions.
Paul Davison, Managing Director of SMD’s Equipment business comments “This system is a new product developed specifically for the submarine telecoms market, and marks a welcome sign of innovation and new product development in the sector. It’s 500HP in a compact footprint and 12TE weight limit make it the best in its class. The system also benefits from jet tooling and a new suite of sensors making it digital ready for future asset management. It’s developments like this that have made SMD equipment responsible for the burial and protection of over 80% of the world’s subsea telecoms cables.”
The vehicle is equipped with SMD’s latest surface control and power cabin layout and 12.5Te Wide Angle A-Frame operational in sea state 5, an umbilical winch with steel armoured umbilical for operation in 2500mwd.
John Dahlgren, Director of submersible systems at SubCom said “SubCom’s goal was to procure a vehicle system which would exceed client expectations for reliability, performance and cable protection. The result was a trencher, which incorporates SubCom’s vast telecom cable installation experience and drive for innovation with SMD’s proven engineering and manufacturing expertise. SubCom is confident this new vehicle will lead the telecom industry in burial power and capability inside a manageable and cost effective footprint, while also incorporating the latest advancements in subsea technology. We are thrilled to be adding the system to our fleet.”
For more information on our range of Trenching ROVs visit: https://www.smd.co.uk/our-products/qtrenchers/General Deck Equipment Trenching
January 29, 2019
Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd (SMD) are pleased to announce that SMD Shanghai, SMD’s Chinese entity, have successfully completed the manufacture and commissioning of a Quantum MkIII work class remotely operated vehicle (WROV) at their facility in Lingang, Shanghai. This is the first WROV to be built at their facility since its opening in 2018.
SMD Shanghai’s facility is home to a 3700m2 workshop which contains an in-house training facility featuring a state-of-the-art ROV training simulator and 405m3 test tank. Having this capability in-house means that SMD Shanghai are able offer their customers a full solution from sales support to training and aftercare.
Andrew Starforth, Managing Director, SMD Shanghai comments, “I am thrilled that we have completed the manufacture of our first WROV system. This is a huge milestone for us to achieve and we have done so with a new team of engineers and technicians. I am looking forward to continuing our success here in Shanghai.”
The Quantum WROV is the largest and most heavy duty WROV in SMDs range, it offers an ideal solution for offshore tasks where high thruster performance and tooling power are required. Generous chassis space means that the system is versatile to allowing for upgrades and additional equipment to suit the customers’ requirements.
For more information on our range of Work Class ROVs visit: https://www.smd.co.uk/product-category/work-class-rovs/General ROVS
December 4, 2018
A team of North East-based subsea engineering experts are preparing to represent the UK in the final of the prestigious $7m Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE competition to map the sea floor.
This month TeamTao, the only UK team and one of the smallest to reach the grand final of the Ocean XPRIZE, head to Greece to field test their technology in the last round of the prestigious international competition, which aims to create next generation tools and techniques for rapid, unmanned ocean exploration and discovery.
The designated competition area is roughly 500 sq km of seafloor, which is equivalent to an area the size of Paris. The teams get 24 hours to map as much of the area as possible at a resolution of 5m horizontally and 0.5m vertically. There can be no human intervention and the equipment must fit within a 40ft container.
During the final round testing, TeamTao will showcase their autonomous swarm system technology, and compete against seven other teams from around the world to map the largest area of seafloor in deep waters off the coast of Greece near the port city of Kalamata.
TeamTao will demonstrate the capability and efficiency of their swarm system of subsea drones and an autonomous surface deployment and recovery vessel to chart the seafloor and identify 10 archaeological, biological or geological features of interest at any depth.
Based in the National Centre for Subsea and Offshore Engineering at Newcastle University, TeamTao brings together experts from UK-based subsea engineering specialist Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD) and Newcastle University.
Dale Wakeham, SMD Design Engineer and TeamTao Project Leader, said: “The team has been working tirelessly during the last six months to develop and refine the technology and we are looking forward to representing the UK in such a prestigious international arena. The Ocean XPRIZE competition presents a significant challenge but we are using it as an opportunity to accelerate development and showcase to the world what the future of subsea survey looks like.”
The Ocean XPRIZE team that comes out on top will win $4m. Second place earns $1m.
Dr Jeff Neasham, the team’s sonar expert and a Senior Lecturer at Newcastle University, added: “Newcastle University is immensely proud to be part of TeamTao and to have reached the final of the Ocean X-prize Competition. It has been hugely challenging to develop an innovative seabed mapping solution from scratch and we are very excited to see how this technology can impact ocean exploration in the future.”
The competition is part of XPRIZE’s 10-year Ocean Initiative – a commitment made to launch five multi-million dollar prizes by 2020 to address critical ocean challenges and inspire innovation that helps create an ocean that is healthy, valued and understood.
Mike Jones, SMD CEO, said: “To reach the final has been an outstanding achievement. We began this journey with an ambitious dream on a minimal budget and secured a fantastic partner in Newcastle University to create TeamTao. Together we have engineered a truly pioneering and cost-effective method of rapidly mapping the ocean floor and water column. In recent months, we’ve also received further support from a number of partners and generous sponsors, including UK Research and Innovation. This has enabled us to scale-up operations dramatically, and while there is still a lot of hard work to do, we’re on track to demonstrate our system’s capabilities, which are revolutionary both in terms of cost and speed of map generation, and once scaled up, they will change the way our oceans are monitored in future.”
The winning team will be announced in March 2019.
SMD and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) are the title sponsors behind TeamTao. SMD is a world-leading designer and manufacturer of specialist subsea remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) based in Newcastle upon Tyne. UKRI is a national funding agency with a £6 billion budget to invest in science and research across the UK. It brings together seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England. Newcastle University is a world-leader in subsea engineering and acoustics research, bringing together experts from a wide range of engineering and scientific backgrounds.
Andrew Tyrer, Robotics and AI Challenge Director at UK Research and Innovation, said: “TeamTao encapsulates all that is great about the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund investment in Robotics and AI technologies. To see both SMD and Newcastle University develop innovative solutions so quickly to address the Shell XPRIZE challenge is awe-inspiring. As the only UK-based consortium left in the competition, I wish them every success in the forthcoming trials.”
Other sponsors and supporters of TeamTao include Rajant, Sonardyne, WAM-V, Lenovo, Altair, Swansea University, Advanced Industrial Solutions, Solidworks and Volz Servos.
In addition to TeamTao representing the UK, other teams competing in the final represent Germany, Japan, Portugal, Switzerland and the United States.
To advance to the final round, the eight semi-finalist teams had to pass a technology readiness test. This included a site visit by XPRIZE staff and judges where the technology was tested against rigorous measurement criteria to show the approach was capable of meeting the operational requirements necessary for rapid, unmanned, high-resolution ocean mapping.Events
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
June 21, 2018
World leading subsea equipment designer and manufacturer Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd (SMD) are pleased to announce that their Multi-Mode Pre Lay Plough, delivered to Greek offshore contractors Assodivers Ltd in Spring this year, has successfully completed its first offshore job in the Baltic sea.
The Multi-Mode Pre Lay Plough is the newest addition to SMD’s power cable installation and protection product range. This plough has configurations for boulder clearing, trenching and backfill. The boulder clearance pass clears a 13.0m wide route including surface and submerged boulders. The trenching pass creates an engineered ‘Y’ trench profile with a secure power cable pocket for subsequent lay process. The backfill pass moves the cut spoil excluding boulders back over the product for maximum cover. All three modes have responsive and controlled steering and a fully integrated sensor suite for as built survey of performance.
Managing Director for SMD’s Subsea Business, Paul Davison comments, “I am thrilled that we have been able to deliver the plough with all three configurations. Having multiple configurations available means this one plough can be set up to carry out a campaign of route clearance and power cable installation and cover processes making it economical in both cost and time, minimising lay risk and maximising lay speed. Assodivers are the first client who have this capability in a single vehicle. We have a longstanding relationship with Assodivers, they have two of our Atom Work Class ROV systems already in their fleet and we are pleased that they trust us and our equipment.”
The equipment was mobilised on board Assodivers’ DP-2 Construction Support Vessel, the Aethra, directly from SMD’s quayside access point.
Technical Manager from Assodivers, Aggelos Tziotakis comments, “We are excited with the opportunities that have arisen from the use of a unique tool such as the multi-mode pre-lay plough; The vehicle has already performed its maiden work in the offshore fields of the Baltic with very successful results.”
Offering a full turnkey solution, SMD delivered a 20ft Control Cabin and a 60Te stabilising frame operational in up to sea state 5 via their dedicated Deck Equipment business. The team were able to integrate the 60Te stabilising frame with Assodivers’ existing A-Frame.
The scissor type stabilising frame used in conjunction with the A-Frame is designed to maintain plough orientation and reduce side to side movement during launch and recovery; fore and aft motion is restricted by the tow wire.Deck Equipment Trenching
April 6, 2018
Curvetech™ engineers at Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD) have completed the build and test of a range of hydraulic thrusters for French subsea cable installation engineering firm Louis Dreyfus TravOcean.
SMD’s Curvetech™ HTE_500BA and HTE_430-63 thrusters are destined for use on a large subsea trenching vehicle designed and built by the Marseille-based company.
Paul Davison, Managing Director Subsea said: “It’s always great to expand our client base for the Curvetech™ product range. Curvetech™ products are well known in the industry for their high-quality and it’s great to be able to support third party Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Last year we put a strong emphasis on client support for the Curvetech™ range. This included updating our website with the latest product range and the addition of downloadable CAD models and manuals so designers can easily access the product range.”
In a cost-conscious market, SMD has seen an increase in demand from self-builders and third party OEMs using their Curvetech™ components in the design and build of their own subsea engineering vehicles and equipment.
Covering a range of applications, SMD’s Curvetech™ product range includes subsea vehicle propulsion systems, subsea motors and hydraulic power units, hydraulic valve control, compensators, control systems and surface high voltage power units, subsea sensors and electrical control cards, subsea tooling and Work Class ROV skid units.Curvetech®
November 10, 2017
North east-based subsea engineering specialist Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd (SMD) is urging university students to apply to its Graduate scheme.
The two-year intensive training and development programme aims to cultivate young engineers in a variety of disciplines to work across SMD sites in North East England.
Chloe Hopper, SMD HR Manager, explains: “Investing in young people is vital for the future. We know there’s a skills shortage in the UK manufacturing sector making vacancies in mechanical and electrical engineering difficult to fill. In a highly competitive and specialised industry like ours, recruiting fresh talent through our graduate scheme is crucial in enabling us to develop the skills and talent required to take on these roles. We hope to recruit up to four graduates this academic year. Applicants don’t have to be from the North East, as long as they have the right qualifications and a desire to work in an exciting and fast paced environment. Our focus at SMD is personal and professional development with genuine career progression. We take a long-term approach to growing, inspiring and training the business and engineering leaders of tomorrow to future-proof the business. For anyone considering relocating to join us, the North East truly is a wonderful place to live and work. House prices and rentals are cheaper, it’s less crowded, and we have vibrant towns and cities like Newcastle, packed with history and entertainment, beautiful coastlines and stunning countryside.”
SMD is a market leading global company with over 45 years’ experience in the subsea technology sector and a North East engineering success story. The company is widely regarded throughout the international subsea industry for being an excellent employer, attracting top engineering talent locally, nationally and overseas.
The company has launched a national search to attract new graduates both online and through regularly attending careers fairs at various universities across the country including Loughborough, Bath and Northumbria University.
Graduates joining SMD receive theoretical and experiential learning to give them an in-depth knowledge of the business, its divisions and product life-cycle from concept to manufacture, commissioning and customer support.
Benefits of the scheme include a competitive starting salary, support to achieve chartered engineer status and additional training and educational qualifications, overseas travel, private healthcare and a contributory pension.
Dominic Kent, a Northumbria University graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering, said: “When I graduated in 2015 I chose SMD because of the opportunities that were available and because I would be able to rotate around the different areas of the business. One of the highlights of my career so far has been working on research and development projects. It is exciting to be involved in new product development because you get to see an idea progress from concept to reality and to know that you have been part of that process is really exciting, not to mention the really good experience it gives you!”
Specialising in the development of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and advanced ploughing, trenching and mining machines, SMD has a global reputation in the design and manufacture of ROVs and subsea intervention solutions within the oil and gas, renewables, telecoms and mining markets. This includes bespoke projects such as the world’s first three deep sea mining machines delivered in 2016.
The company operates three strategic sites in the North East; a head office and heavy production facility at Davy Bank in Wallsend, a manufacturing site in North Shields and a new servicing operations base at the Port of Tyne. SMD is a subsidiary of Chinese parent company CRRC TEC Ltd, the world’s largest provider of propulsion and power control systems. The company continues to expand its global network and is currently investing in a new sales and manufacturing facility in Shanghai.General
October 24, 2017
Andrew Hodgson is stepping down as CEO of Tyneside-based subsea engineering specialist Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd. (SMD).
He will be will be succeeded by his deputy Mike Jones from 23 October. No stranger to the business, Jones has worked for SMD for over 25 years.
A director since 2004, Jones takes over following a planned two and a half year transition put in place when SMD was acquired by the Chinese company CRRC Times Electric in 2015, the world’s famous provider of electric railway propulsion and power control systems.
Andrew Hodgson has been at the helm of the company for nine years and led the business through its acquisition by the Chinese company, public listed in Hong Kong, in a £120 million deal as part of the firm’s strategy to penetrate new markets in which SMD has particular expertise.
Hodgson said: “I’m proud to have been a part of SMD for the last nine years and see everything it has achieved despite the challenges facing the offshore industry in that time. We are coming to the end of a three-year turnaround on target with strong growth and revenue across all our business divisions.
“We’ve invested in our services, added products, expanded our global network and lowered operating costs. We’ve dealt effectively with competitive challenges and now the business is more stable it is the appropriate time to hand over to Mike.
“People are integral to the business and very committed and Mike brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the role. I’d like to wish Mike and the team all the very best for the future.”
Hodgson has confirmed he will remain chair of The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the public, private and education sector partnership which works to provide strategic economic leadership for the region.
In 2010 Jones led SMD’s Trenching, Mining and Renewable division, helping to secure its dominant position in subsea equipment for the growing Offshore Wind market, winning a Queens Award for the company 2012 and delivering a world-first in the deep water mining system for Nautilus Minerals.
For the past two years Jones has been Deputy CEO working as a Board Member and MD in China developing a team and SMD facility in Shanghai to establish local operations for the China market.
He said: “It is a privilege to take over from Andrew to guide SMD through its next phase of development. It’s a business for which I have a deep understanding and passion, being part of its evolution during the past 25 years.
“We have a very experienced, dedicated and talented team backed by a committed and patient owner. We operate in some interesting markets with great potential and I’m looking forward to working together with our stakeholders in the North East and internationally to take the business forward and build a great future.”
Mr Chen, vice general manager of CRRC Times Electric and chairman of the board of directors at SMD, said: “I’d like to thank Andrew for his commitment to the company and wish him every success in his future endeavours.
“Mike taking over the role of SMD CEO is an important appointment for the business. He is very knowledgeable when it comes to our markets and has already worked extensively to develop our presence in China.”
September 7, 2017
Dedicated deck equipment engineers at Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD) have successfully completed work on an electric drive dual-purpose winch and Launch and Recovery System (LARS) to accompany an order from Shanghai Salvage for a Quasar Work Class ROV. The equipment will be used for salvage operations in deep waters around the world, with an assured maximum working depth up to 6000m.
The dual-purpose electric drive winch will be provided with two interchangeable drums: one 6000m lightweight umbilical cable and one 3000m cable with TMS, capable of carrying heavier loads. The drums can be swapped on the vessel to suit varying operational requirements, preventing the need to return to shore and therefore saving on costs and time. The winch system is designed and certified to the latest DNV-ST-E273 standard, including the electric drive suite which allows the system to be quickly mobilised onto a vessel of opportunity as one unit via a single point lift.
By making use of electric motors powered via a Low Harmonic Variable Speed Drive application, rather than hydraulics, SMD can offer an environmentally-friendly energy-efficient launch system. The turnkey design can be fully integrated with the vessel’s electronics, meaning energy from the winch can be regenerated and used for other applications on the vessel.
The winch can operate using AC induction or advanced synchronous reluctance motors – with SynRM motor technology to maximise compensation accuracy and minimise response time. This increases the operational window and the ability to safely launch and recover in high sea states.
Paul Hatchett, Managing Director of Deck Equipment at SMD, commented, “We are delighted to offer a clean, energy-efficient solution for deep water salvage systems. Thanks to improvements in technology, electric winches are becoming an increasingly viable option. The LARS we have developed for Shanghai Salvage has been tailored to work at varying depths and in challenging conditions, and at the same time remain robust and lightweight.”
SMD have developed the electric winch based on an active heave compensation system using motion reference unit (MRU) feedback, allowing the cable to remain under controlled tension during use, thus enabling safe and smooth deployment.
To accompany the Launch and Recovery System, SMD will be providing a PLC control system, opening up new control and monitoring possibilities. As well as auto-depth capability and power loss protection, the system is capable of condition monitoring, remote diagnostics and data logging via cloud based access.
Engineered to operate at a wide range of temperatures from -20 to 45°C, the winch drive and motor package system is air cooled, meaning there is no need for liquid cooling. The system comes with increased breaking capacity and the winch structure is fully DNV-ST-0378 approved.Deck Equipment
March 3, 2017
Watch the video to see our Curvetech® Thrusters in action.Curvetech®