OSBIT Power's MaXccess system completes successful offshore trials

OSBIT Power (OP), Siemens Wind Power and Statoil have successfully completed offshore trials of OP's innovative offshore wind turbine access system, MaXccess. The trials were conducted with the backing of Siemens Wind Power and Statoil, at the Hywind Demo floating offshore wind turbine

OSBIT Power (OP), Siemens Wind Power and Statoil announced that they have successfully completed offshore trials of OP's innovative offshore wind turbine access system, MaXccess. The trials were conducted with the backing of Siemens Wind Power and Statoil, at the Hywind Demo floating offshore wind turbine off the coast of Norway.

MaXccess was installed on the wind farm service vessel "Bayard 3", operated by Fred Olsen
Windcarrier, for the duration of the trials conducted over the past month from Statoil's Hywind operations base at Skudeneshavn, Norway. The trials saw successful safe transfer of personnel taking place in conditions ranging from 1.2m up to 1.9m significant wave height (Hs). During the 9 days of offshore operations, over 100 connections were made, with MaXccess being clamped to the turbine buffer tube for over 12 hours in total, during which time 36 personnel transfers were made.

Andrew Stormonth‐Darling, Technical Project Manager: Service / Maritime Solutions, Siemens Wind Power, comments on MaXccess and implications for future operations: "Over the past month the systematic testing of the MaXccess system has resulted in a huge leap forward in improving transfers from the sort of crew transfer vessels we use widely across our projects. The success of the trials is testament to the engineering solution developed by OP, and will help lead the way to reduced operating costs and an improved safe working environment for technicians across the industry.

"Safety is paramount to Siemens and as we have many technicians working for us in the field, these latest developments are very important to us indeed. Safe operations and turbine access are two of the main challenges in the offshore environment. Stringent safety standards, quality training sessions and daily assessments ensure that Siemens' personnel are at the forefront of existing safety measures. In order to maintain its position as Number One in offshore wind, in the broadest sense, Siemens strives to ensure best‐in‐class technology is implemented in all aspects of its operations."

Anders Wikborg, Marine Operations Manager, Offshore Wind Energy, Statoil comments: "It is vital that the industry supports innovations that have the potential to bring the cost of electricity down and increase safety of personnel working offshore. Developing new technology requires real world testing to validate performance. Through the trials we have conducted a thorough assessment of the MaXccess system and, in conjunction with DnV and Automasjon og Data, we have undertaken recordings of the wave conditions and motions of the vessel. Based on these, we can confirm that the system has achieved safe and reliable access in 1.9m significant wave height conditions."

MaXccess – an aid to increased safety and cost reduction
The MaXccess system has been developed by UK‐based OP, with the first production MaXccess unit, MX11/01, being completed in summer 2011. "Following an extensive review of offshore access solutions, Siemens Wind Power and Statoil chose to support trials of MaXccess believing it shows great potential to provide significant benefits to both safety and productivity of their offshore projects ‐ a safe step forwards in offshore access," explains Dr Tony Trapp who established OP 18 months ago, with the aim of improving offshore technologies, particularly those related to wind.

Rapidly establishing a team of experienced and creative engineers, OP set out to solve the holy grail' of safe, efficient and cost effective offshore access.

For all projects whether smaller nearshore sites, or large projects far from shore, lack of access due to wave conditions exceeding the limits of current technology, causes delays during construction and interruptions to service and maintenance operations. These delays result in increased costs and lost revenue. More productive operations must also be safe operations. By creating a stable and predictable transfer system, MaXccess contributes to reducing the cost of offshore wind and creates a safer working environment for technicians conducting offshore transfers.

The MaXccess system provides a stable platform from which personnel can transfer to and from the boat landing platforms mounted on turbine foundation structures. This stable platform is achieved through the elegant engineering solution that OP has developed. A friction based clamp connected to the vessel by a carefully engineered linkage geometry ensures that the bow of the vessel is held stationary while the vessel is allowed to roll, pitch and yaw freely. The system incorporates instrumentation to measure and log load and position data.

MaXccess incorporates a traffic light warning system to indicate when safe transfer conditions are present, thereby removing the uncertainty to which technicians are currently exposed when transferring using a vessel contacting the turbine with its bow fender only. On top of these benefits the lack of a requirement to continually thrust into the boat landing at high power results in less strain on vessel engines, and will therefore help reduce engine maintenance and fuel costs.

Innovation is key
"There is huge need to reduce costs and increase safety in offshore wind projects," explains Tony Trapp. "For the industry to have a viable future the current situation has to be improved. Transferring personnel is not only one of the most hazardous activities on a wind farm but also a major bottleneck due to the weather limits of current transfer technology. With MaXccess OP has created both a safer, more predictable means of transfer and a route to cost reduction through greater accessibility to turbines."

Further information on OP, and its MaXccess system, is available at www.osbitpower.com; and from OSBIT Power Ltd, Broomhaugh House, Riding Mill, Northumberland, NE44 6EG,
UK. Tel: +44 (0) 1434 682 505. Email: team@osbitpower.com

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