The big gains in offshore vessel crane technology are now coming from digitalisation and IoT systems
Manufacturers of offshore heavy-lift cranes have now developed technologies for remotely monitoring the performance and condition of their systems.
They are using streams of operational data to trend performance and predict when failures are likely to occur.
These predictive maintenance systems enable vessel operators and engineering teams to conduct overhauls or repairs to prevent further damage when issues arise.
Liebherr group is the latest high-profile manufacturer to introduce a predictive maintenance system for deck machinery. Liebherr Intelligent Maintenance (LiMain) removes the need for human intervention in certain circumstances. It is a fully digital, remote and semi-automatic maintenance system.
Liebherr hopes this will reduce maintenance and operational costs and resources on vessels and offshore platforms, while increasing crane availability.
A key element of LiMain is its modular system architecture, enabling vessel owners to determine the degree of autonomy and scope of intelligent maintenance required for their cranes.
Modules include automatic greasing, condition monitoring, predictive maintenance and remote maintenance cycle. With automatic greasing, all critical components, such as boom pivot bearings, are continuously monitored and automatically lubricated.
The condition monitoring module records detailed data about relevant components and crane systems, including environmental monitoring. Data can be downloaded at any time for analysis, to optimise service performance and increase safety.
“Digitalisation allows us to make existing services even more efficient”
Predictive maintenance fuses sensor technology and experience of performance and overhauls to optimise product and component lifecycles. It provides advice on using the appropriate parts at the right time to prevent issues and failures.
The remote maintenance cycle is an all-inclusive approach, combining all LiMain modules for semi-automatic maintenance. It connects all elements of the modules for self-diagnostics, automated maintenance, crane monitoring – using cameras and digital data – and manual repairs driven by remote access.
Liebherr International head of digital Kjeld Jespersen said condition monitoring and remote services are now part of the group’s digitalisation strategy.
“We see digitalisation as an opportunity to enhance existing services and to develop completely new business models,” he said. “Digitalisation allows us to make existing services even more efficient, such as condition monitoring.”
He highlighted the development of remote service apps for mobile devices as an example of how digitalisation can identify issues and improve technicians’ repairs.
“Different gateways, IoT infrastructure and analytic capabilities provide a clear view of a machine’s condition”
“Using digital tools speeds up this process and means that the service technician can arrive on site with the right tools and parts,” said Mr Jespersen.
“Different gateways, internet-of-things (IoT) infrastructure and analytic capabilities provide us with a clearer view of a machine’s current condition, identify problems faster and [allow us to] use data to predict when maintenance will be necessary in the future,” said Mr Jespersen.
“Digital solutions will also allow us to solve our customers’ current challenges using completely new services,” he added.
This client focus is important for Liebherr’s digital and analytics developments. “While digitalisation offers a whole array of new technologies, it is vital not to lose sight among these possibilities, but to ensure that new technologies ultimately serve our customers,” said Mr Jespersen.
Liebherr has established a digital governance structure to manage its digital project portfolio, facilitating cross-divisional collaboration and overseeing a network of internal experts. Technology groups explore external trends and share experiences across divisions. It also has a strategic advisory board and defined taskforces looking into the necessary infrastructure for new digital solutions.
Elsewhere, Cargotec subsidiary MacGregor’s OnWatch Scout remote support system for cranes is growing in popularity among OSV owners. In Q4 2020, North Sea Shipping started using MacGregor’s remote technical support and predictive analysis on cranes on its subsea construction vessel, North Sea Giant, under a five-year contract.
North Sea Shipping installed the system on its 153.6-m vessel in December and tested it in January 2021 in Norway. It will use OnWatch Scout Predict to achieve efficiency gains, greater reliability and improved performance.
“It is all about capacity and operational uptime 24/7,” said North Sea Shipping technical manager Henning Revne. “This technology will make a difference both for our clients and crew.”
OnWatch Scout uses machine learning models to detect potential problems and enables North Sea Shipping to address them before failures occur.
The system will guide technical crew through troubleshooting measures and onboard repairs while North Sea Giant remains in operation.
MacGregor supplied two active heave compensated offshore cranes for North Sea Giant: a knuckle boom midship crane with capacity for 400 tonnes on a single line wire of 3,000 m and an aft crane with 50 tonnes of capacity and 2,000 m of wire.
This ship operates in harsh sea conditions in northern Europe. It is used for subsea construction, pipe laying, well intervention, cable laying, ROV support, subsea maintenance and repair and walk-to-work operations.
Jones Act installation vessel
In December last year Huisman secured a contract to supply a leg-encircling crane (LEC) for the first offshore windfarm installation vessel being built in the US.
This will be the first installation vessel to be compliant with US Jones Act requirements.
Huisman will supply a LEC with 2,200 tons of lifting capacity and a 130-m long boom, engineered for the installation of the next generation of offshore wind turbines and foundations.
This will be supplied in 2023 to Keppel AmFELS for installation on Dominion Energy’s Charybdis, which will be used for the construction of offshore windfarms off the US east coast.
Keppel AmFELS is constructing the vessel in Brownsville, Texas. Huisman plans to commission and test its LEC crane in Rosenberg, Texas.
This crane will be modelled on a similar LEC supplied for Seajacks’ offshore installation jack-up vessel Scylla. It will be a fully electrically driven system, with high positioning accuracy and reliability and reduced maintenance requirements.
It will have a unique Lambda boom, which reduces motion at the crane tip. This LEC will have a small tail swing allowing for the optimised use of free deck space.
Seajacks will assist Dominion Energy during construction and operations of Charybdis, which is being built to a GustoMSC NG-16000X-SJ vessel design. NOV is providing the design and integrated jacking system. Charybdis will have an overall length of 144 m, a breadth of 56 m and a depth of 11.5 m.