Safety and comfort in operations & maintenance
René Cornelis Wigmans
Head of Global Maritime & Aviation Solutions
Siemens Wind Power
When it comes to operations and maintenance (O&M) at offshore wind farms it seems there is broad consensus between operators and technical service providers about what is important. René Cornelis Wigmans, Head of the Maritime and Aviation Solutions department of the Siemens Wind Power service business says, “In developing or planning any offshore logistics concept the most important criteria is safety. Making sure our service technicians have the proper training is vital. Siemens prides itself in having all four of our global training centres certified by the Global Wind Organisation.”
With safety as top priority, Mr Wigmans is clear on what the goal is. “At the same time we work very closely with our customers during the planning phase in order to achieve high levels of availability and energy output from their wind turbines.”
Operations & Maintenace Engineer
Hernan Vargas is part of operator Vattenfall’s Operational Rediness Unit – Renewables – Generation, which is responsible for planning O&M throughout the life-cycle of a wind farm. He expresses agreement with Mr Wigmans. “The main driver is safety. With this in mind as a priority we need to address the correlation between operational needs and their associated costs. Personnel transfer is obviously key to ensuring turbine availability through accessibility and we continuously look at improvements in this area.”
One of the biggest considerations in the field of personnel transfer is passenger comfort – which goes hand-in-hand with safety. Comfort is actually growing in importance for a number of reasons. Mr Vargas offers one example. “Given the increased need of personnel required for the Offshore Wind market we cannot always expect to have sailors amongst our technicians and seasickness is an important issue to address.”
Mr Wigmans offers further explanation: “Today more and more wind farms are being built farther from shore. This provides a new set of logistical challenges as the typical setup, where service technicians start out from the harbour in the morning and return in the evening, simply won’t work for some projects any longer. Transits can take too much time.”
For this reason Siemens has been studying new approaches and is in the process of pioneering efficiency-improved O&M concepts. One of these is their Service Operations Vessel (SOV). Early next year, Siemens will be the first to deploy SOVs that are purpose built for offshore wind service. The state-of-the-art vessels will accommodate up to 40 service technicians on a vessel that can remain offshore for up to a month.
As may be expected, comfort is a strong feature of the vessels, as Mr Wigmans points out. “Comfort is one of the key elements we looked at when designing our SOVs. They will have individual accommodation rooms for each technician, an exercise room, meeting rooms, hospitality areas and even a theatre. We want to make sure our technicians are not only safe, but comfortable.”
In recognition of such requirements Damen has designed a dedicated SOV and these vessels will also be equipped with a range of practical solutions, such as an on board spare parts warehouse and a hydraulic Walk 2 Work gangway system and a strong focus on comfort, performance and fuel efficiency.
Since the ‘E3’ are becoming more and more important these days, Damen started about a year ago with the search for a way to create and design a vessel which is Environmentally-friendly, Economic viable, and Efficient in operation. The key design criteria for the vessel were the result of extensive discussions Damen held with the industry. Staff retention was a growing issue in the offshore market. Therefore a fourth requirement was given: comfort for crew and its passengers.