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“The requirements we were facing were fairly tough,” says Nils Olav Gjørvad at RECAB. “We’re talking about a solution consisting of several units that had to be integrated into one robust module. Not only that, but the size and surface area requirements were rigorous. And it had to reuse the UHF radio and GPS module from the existing solution.”
Taking on the iSurvey challenge
The surveying and positioning company iSurvey was looking for a “nutcracker” to crack the tough nut of developing a new module for its iSafe positioning system. RECAB took on the challenge.
iSurvey is a dynamic company providing a range of advanced services for seabed surveying and positioning of offshore installations and ships. For one of its systems, the anchor management system iSafe, there was a need to develop a more compact, robust modular support unit including positioning and communications electronics.
Shrink the module
The requirements we were facing were fairly tough, says Nils Olav Gjørvad at RECAB. – We’re talking about a solution consisting of several units that had to be integrated into one robust module. Not only that, but the size and surface area requirements were rigorous. And it had to reuse the UHF radio and GPS module from the existing solution.
First, to see whether it was even possible to develop the desired product, RECAB carried out a feasibility study in cooperation with the Danish division of the company. – Our colleague Brian Axbøg did much of the 3D design of the solution, says Gjørvad. – It was important to do this early on to make sure all the components would fit. We also had to deal with the heat and EMC challenges you face in a densely packed cabinet containing processor cards, a GPS module, a UHF module and diplexer.
Had to develop heat spreader
Choosing the processor turned out to be a challenge too, since there isn’t much cooling inside the box, he says. Initially RECAB was looking at an Intel Atom-based card to keep power consumption down, but it didn’t deliver optimal performance. Instead, they went with a third generation Core i3 processor, deciding it was better to take the trouble of developing solutions for getting the heat away from the processors. – It took a lot of R&D to get it to work, says Gjørvad. We developed a special aluminum heat spreader to conduct the heat out to the chassis. The solution we ended up with is specified for use at up to 60°C ambient temperature. We also had to design a brand new power supply unit in order to fit the space and provide proper outlets.
The mechanical design of the unit is a separate challenge. The chassis and its mounting bracket (which can be collapsed when not in use) are designed to be easy to move and set up wherever needed. – The mounting process had to be as simple as possible. The unit can either be attached directly to the equipment it will be used with or placed in a rack, says Gjørvad. The mechanism was developed by a Danish company with expertise in products for maritime environments, and the unit is IP65-rated.
The solution is a support system intended for use in positioning drilling rigs and ships during operations such as anchoring, says Gjørvad. – Typically you have a positioning system aboard the oil rig and an iSafe system on each supply boat. These units communicate by radio in the UHF range, and provide positioning data that is adequate for use by the control systems of iSurvey.
I think we’ve done a good job of meeting the technical challenges, says Gjørvad. One of the biggest challenges otherwise was keeping track of all the details. Good project management ended up being extremely important. The products have now been deployed and are field proven, robust and stable in operation in the North Sea. And iSurvey is satisfied with our implementation!
Developing a maritime unit for a positioning system:
– The requirements we were facing were fairly tough, says Nils Olav Gjørvad of RECAB.
The industrial design of the solution was an interactive process engaging both iSurvey and RECAB. The 3D design and implementation were done by RECAB’s Danish division. The positioning and communications module is designed so it can be moved into the field and installed quickly and easily.
The iSurvey Group provides a range of services in the area of surveying and installation of offshore projects, from data collection and seabed surveying to positioning and management of multiple ships, underwater positioning, anchor management, cable installation, and ROV remote control, to mention a few. The Group is based in Billingstad, outside Oslo, and has a division in Singapore.
Do you want to know more about the project or our other product, please contact us:
Nils Olav Gjørvad /+47 96 90 22 11 / [email protected]
Bjørn Espen Aase / +47 62 54 02 91 /[email protected]
Text by: Einar Karlsen