Strainstall, part of James Fisher and Sons plc, announced the completion of the world’s first Intelligent Fender System (IFS) trial with energy companies SSE and RWE at Suffolk-based wind farm, Greater Gabbard.
The IFS is an in-house developed technology which aims to provide accurate and recordable data to improve safety and increase operational efficiency for vessel and offshore wind farm operators during transfer operations. The Greater Gabbard trial enabled Strainstall to verify IFS’s performance in the accurate monitoring and reporting of vessel push-on forces against offshore wind turbines.
Sid Anverali, general manager for Greater Gabbard, explained, “Logistics are a significant element of our operations and monitoring of vessel performance and more importantly, improvement or suggestions, are of interest. We consider innovation a vital part of development within our industry and are pleased Gabbard has been able to trial IFS.”
IFS also supports the ongoing challenge for cost-reduction in offshore wind by allowing optimization of fuel consumption during operations as well as helping to ensure the integrity of the turbine structures, the developer said. The live data allows the skipper of the vessel to manage the pushing forces onto the assets and stay within the optimum force, opposed to over exerting forces and therefore burning excess fuel and potentially causing damage to assets.
Trials were carried out utilizing James Fisher’s offshore support vessel, Dart Fisher, which was retrofitted with IFS earlier in 2015 and is now reportedly the only vessel operating worldwide with this technology. IFS will be able to provide clarity and understanding of the live and cumulative impact forces exerted during transfer operations through vessel push-ons, Strainstall said.
Highlighting the success of the trial Simon Everett, managing director of Strainstall, explained, “Up until this point there has not been any accurate real-time data to help support operators to monitor the forces being exerted, so this is an industry first. IFS now allows them to have very accurate records of real-time date that enables operators to efficiently manage their assets”.
Working with partners KPM Marine to develop the frame, IFS uses Strainstall’s strain gauge technology, mounted in a rugged slim-line steel frame on the bow of the boat, to provide real-time updates of the vessel’s impact and push-on forces against the turbine to the skipper and the wind farm operator. The Intelligent Fender System measures and records all forces being applied onto the turbines providing a warning signal when a vessel is going over the optimal pushing force, which is outlined by the offshore wind farm operators, enabling the protection of people and assets offshore.