Powerspex – automation specialists
Software & Commisioning Engineer
The electrical and automation configuration of modern dredgers can be thought of as the ‘central nervous systems’ of these powerful vessels. In recent years, process automation provider Powerspex has designed and delivered these systems for 120 Damen Cutter Suction Dredgers.
Established in 1997, Powerspex started out working in the steam generator and furnace sector. However, as the years rolled by, the company’s skills were called on in an increasingly diverse number of areas. Notable examples include work on city heating projects, manure fermenters, and even the world’s tallest Ferris Wheel.
As a further extension of the company’s scope, Powerspex has been working for Damen Dredging Equipment (DDE) since 2006. “We work on Damen’s Cutter Suction Dredgers – providing the hardware and software engineering, instrumentation, cabling, installation and calibration and final commissioning,” says Hardware Engineer Bart Zijsveld. “And then, after delivery, we are involved with spare parts and servicing, which can be on location, but which is becoming more and more via remote access. In the beginning we worked on just a couple of vessels per year, but this has increased to up to fourteen per year.” A notable fact here is that Powerspex is a certified Siemens Solution Partner, meaning that the employees are highly skilled in working with Siemens automation hard and software.
Because the company works on all types of Damen CSD (from the CSD250 up to the CSD650), standardisation is just as important for Powerspex as it is for Damen. “This means that it’s quite straightforward to implement clientspecific modifications to the standard design. And when it comes to the matter of spare parts, standardisation also brings cost efficiency,” explains Installation Engineer Alen Ajkunic. Demonstrating just how close the two companies work together is the fact that Mr Ajkunic, although a Powerspex employee, works permanently at DDE in Nijkerk, the Netherlands. A man with a well-organised schedule, he is currently installing the electrical systems on three different dredgers: “These are a CSD650, a CSD450 and a CSD500 due for completion one-by-one over the coming six weeks.”
Evolution of dredging
Another key member of the Powerspex team working for Damen is Software & Commissioning Engineer Ramon Brouwer. He has been developing the software used on Damen’s CSDs for more than a decade, and as such is in a good position to comment on trends in the dredging sector. “You cannot really compare the CSDs that were built 10 years ago to the ones built today,” he notes. “There has been so much development in that time. The diagnostic capabilities and attention to service has improved significantly. Problems are solved faster – meaning less downtime and less costs for the operator.” Facilitating this remote servicing is a webpage installed into every vessel’s CPU (Central Processing Unit). This provides information to create and monitor status reports as well as any potential alarms. Many issues can often be solved remotely, and if not, a field engineer can be deployed to the work site to solve the problem.
Striving to develop automation software even further, Mr Brouwer has clear goals for the future: “Our aim is to be able to generate more detailed reports; ones that pinpoint the specific problem – to which we can then present the specific solution.” He also utilises Quality Improvement Reports to address feedback from clients. “To this end, we are paying more attention to automated dredging. After all, a vessel captain cannot work for twelve hours straight, so we are working on systems that can take over functions such as swing speed and depth in addition to cutter head positioning.”
Powerspex has designed, installed and delivered the electrical and automation systems of over 120 Damen CSDs during the two companies’ eleven-year relationship. “We can rightly say that we have built up some extensive experience,” concludes Mr Zijsveld proudly. It is this experience and pragmatic commitment to service that owners and operators of Damen’s CSDs get to experience in the smooth running of their day-to-day operations.