DISCOVER Magazine #7

Keeping up to date

Published in category: Dredging

UK Dredging’s Bluefin gets new monitoring system

Paul_Mitchell_Operations_Manager_UK_DredgingPaul Mitchell
Operations Manager,
UK Dredging

Keeping costs down and maximising uptime: two crucial factors in any maritime business. No less so for UK Dredging, which keeps its well-equipped fleet up to date through a programme of continual capital investment. When one of the company’s TSHDs needed a new dredge monitoring system, they turned to Damen.

The UKD Bluefin, a 98-metre TSHD, was using the original dredge monitoring system installed during its construction in 1997. “It was old, and parts of the system were becoming increasingly unreliable and difficult to support,” informs UK Dredging Operations Manager Paul Mitchell. “Rather than install a complete new system, where possible we wanted to utilise existing sensors and cable runs, such as draught transducers and angle sensors that were proven and functioning perfectly well. Time and cost were critical to us.” To reduce downtime and keep costs to a minimum, UK Dredging planned to schedule a refit of the dredge monitoring system during the vessel’s routine maintenance drydock at the end of 2014.

Seamless installation

“We approached Damen in January 2014 with an indication of what we wanted to do. They very quickly understood what was required and came up with a proposal that matched our needs,” continues Mr Mitchell. “They were very flexible – something we were tremendously impressed by – they were able to adapt the systems, utilise some of the existing equipment and marry it up with the new system.”

“After a technical visit to the vessel, Damen did a lot of preparatory work leading up to the drydocking. This meant that they could come on board and get to work very quickly with decommissioning the old system, removing unnecessary hardware and installing the new equipment. They did all this seamlessly – in a limited time frame with zero downtime.”

The refit, notably, was performed at a non-Damen yard. “That was critical for us. We had to take full advantage of the planned drydocking and Damen’s engineers helped us do that. They were familiar with the area and knew the facilities and resources available. From a time perspective, this meant a significant cost saving for us.”

Remote solutions

The UKD Bluefin’s first campaign after the refit was a maintenance dredging contract in the Port of Sunderland. “After a short passage from drydock UKD Bluefin arrived on site, put the dredge pipes in the water, and the system worked straight away. That was just over a year ago and it has worked well ever since. We did have a few little glitches, but I must say that Damen were able to sort them out very quickly. Part of the installation includes remote access through a 3G modem so Damen were able to log in to tweak the system if necessary. This ability to remotely log in and quickly solve the problem was fantastic – none of the vessel’s original equipment could do that. If the vessel needs to stop because of a problem, then the costs can build up pretty quickly. This really is a cost effective way of maintaining and supporting the system.”

The vessel’s captain and crew are very pleased with the new system, according to Mr Mitchell. “The user display is very clear and straightforward to operate. It is also reliable and accurate. These are all big advantages for us. With her new dredge monitoring system, the UKD Bluefin is a great asset – we are looking forward to having her in our fleet for many years to come.”

The Ins & Outs of Dredge Monitoring

Providing the dredge master with all the information he needs – the Damen Dredge Monitoring System is all about visualisation of data. It can be tailored to fit clients’ specific requirements as it is fully customisable.

Among the options selected by UK Dredging were:

  • On screen display of vertical and horizontal trailing pipe angles (thus precisely determining drag head position),
  • Load measurements showing vessel draught and tons dry solids load line,
  • Data logging and reporting module with remote access from the shore based office.

Further options include:

  • Plug & Play dredge pump sensors – ready for immediate use,
  • Concentration and velocity data providing valuable information on production management,
  • Accurate positioning systems showing vessel location and dredging progress.
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