Ingeteam is immersed in a new R&D development to stabilise ships during heavy part loading and unloading manoeuvres, mainly for oil platforms or offshore wind farms.
It involves a new advanced control system for ships transporting high-tonnage parts, which performs a comprehensive analysis of on board elements when the vessel's crane is used for loading and unloading manoeuvres, and which automatically compensates the water in hold tanks to stabilise the vessel.
The project has gained €500,000 in investment, and the support of the Basque Government's Hazitek Business R&D programme and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
It should be noted that these heavy Floating Crane Installation Vessels specialise in the transport of parts for offshore oil platforms or offshore wind turbines and can have a considerable tonnage. Unlike jackup rigs, crane vessels are faster at facilities as they do not use anchor legs, although they do require stability and positioning control due to the large size and weight of the parts they handle. Loading and unloading manoeuvres are delicate, as the crane can cause the vessel to heel or even sink.
To prevent the ship from capsizing, heeling must be compensated by a counterweight to ensure the stability of the vessel by using water to fill different hold tanks in the ship. By installing pumps in the hold, it is possible to speed up the transfer of water between on board storage compartments, and thereby act as a counterweight to adapt the load level during the operation.
The new advanced control system, developed by Ingeteam, enables this weight compensation system to be automated in order to stabilise manoeuvres at sea, by employing a mathematical model capable of predicting the torsional moment, anticipating its effect, and maintaining stability. By monitoring all of the ship’s elements via the installation of sensors, real-time measurements can be obtained of the ship's inclination, or tank levels, and used to produce a simulation of the distribution of the weight and forces in the ship.
The system operates pumps to transfer the water between the different tanks, counteracting any possible imbalances that may be created during a manoeuvre.
This project, called Antiheeling 4.0, represents a breakthrough in the sector, as it automates stabilisation by controlling ship ballast and draught during loading and unloading operations at sea, thus ensuring safer and more effective manoeuvres.
Ingeteam expects the first ship with this technology to start operating in 2022. To better visualise its operation, Ingeteam has created a digital twin of the first vessel where the system will be installed, with a crane capable of handling weights of 5,000 tonnes. This will make it possible to simulate the behaviour of the system and conduct testing, and thereby improve its performance and efficiency before implementation.