Issues Archive

January/February 2017 Vol. 21
No. 1
 Trimble's system  
  integrates a Trimble dual  
  antenna GNSS receiver  
  with the IMU sensor in  
  one housing 
 Teledyne Webb Research  
  announces release of the  
  Slocum Fleet Mission  
  Control (SFMC) software 
 NOC launches new  
  collaborative way of  
  working with the oil and  
  gas industry 

Trimble launches inertial positioning system for use in ports and harbours

Trimble, USA, has announced the release of a precise marine inertial positioning system which provides “robust 3D position, attitude and orientation data in the most challenging of marine environments”.

The new product is targeted at marine contractors who are constructing ports or waterways with dredging, placement or piling machines that need reliable position and orientation data, the company said.

“In some cases there is a need to precisely survey the waterway bed before the machines are moved off site,” said Trimble. “This system ensures precise data can be integrated with single beam or multibeam sonar allowing the hydrographic survey vessel to undertake progress and ‘as built’ surveys.”

The company said the system integrates a Trimble dual antenna GNSS receiver with the IMU sensor in one housing to compute a tightly coupled solution, “resulting in the most robust positioning solution possible”.

The firm added: “The system will keep delivering position and attitude even when used in compromising marine situations such as a congested port. Its performance surpasses loosely coupled solutions of a dual GNSS antenna receiver cabled to an IMU (pitch, roll, heave) sensor. To maintain productivity, data is delivered while dead reckoning in cases where satellite coverage is limited for short periods.”

TWR releases glider piloting software

Teledyne Webb Research (TWR), the USA-based manufacturer of autonomous underwater vehicles including the Slocum G2 glider and Slocum hybrid glider, has announced the release of a new glider piloting tool, the Slocum Fleet Mission Control (SFMC) software.

“SFMC is a software suite used to manage multiple Teledyne Webb Research Slocum glider deployments around the world,” said a spokesman. “It builds on the traditional Dock Server software application and provides a revolutionary web-based front end that allows for collaboration among multiple glider pilots.”

The spokesman said the new software suite offers customers some key benefits including active vehicle tracking and mission planning, consolidated data management, the ability to access piloting tools from any platform including tablets and smartphones, and increased security with individual login accounts and multi-level permission sets.

NOC announces oil & gas initiative

The National Oceanography Centre (NOC), UK, reports the launch of a new collaborative way of working with the oil and gas industry. NOC said it will provide innovative science and technology to enable industry to work safely and efficiently, with minimum impact on the marine environment.

An NOC spokesman said the launch comes off the back of many years of working with the industry on both an individual and collaborative basis, to develop science and technology to enhance competitive advantage, maximise investment and reduce operational costs during exploration, production and decommissioning.

NOC has unique expertise in marine autonomous and robotic systems and sensors, for operations in challenging, hazardous and deep-sea environments. NOC’s fleet of AUVs, ROVs, unmanned surface vehicles and submarine gliders have all been developed to operate in extreme conditions.

NOC’s associate director of Innovation and Enterprise, Kevin Forshaw, said: “Building on our existing relationships, we are hoping that this offer will encourage more oil and gas companies to develop long-term relationships with us, as we believe there are benefits to be gained on both sides. With the many challenges facing the industry, companies are recognising the value of novel science and technology, to create real business value. By accessing external funding opportunities and joint-industry funding, companies are benefiting from responsive and flexible innovations to drive down operational costs, maximise existing investments, access and share innovation expertise, and respond to government fiscal and environmental regulations.”

The collaboration package is an annual subscription which includes access to “efficient, authoritative and rigorous science research services, responsive to the industry’s needs, expert interpretation of valuable data-sets, access to software and data-products and alerts for public funding opportunities”. Collaborators will also have associate membership of the NOC’s Marine Robotics Innovation Centre.

Interpreting data made easy

Nortek, Norway, reports the introduction of a new tool for simplifying oceanographic data interpretation.

The company said: “Oceanographic instruments measuring currents and other aspects of ocean behaviour collect vast amounts of data. Processing and interpreting these data has traditionally been the preserve of highly specialised scientists working with their own custom-built programmes. Now the field is opening up to a wider range of users with the advent of unique software designed to simplify data interpretation.”

The software, known as Ocean Contour, is the product of extensive consultations with members of the oceanographic community in an effort to meet their needs in a fast-changing technological environment, according to Nortek. Expanding onboard data storage capacity and longer battery life mean instruments are capable of staying submerged for a longer period of time – and that means they resurface with many gigabytes more data than was the case even a couple of years ago, the company said.

Produced by Boston, USA-based Ocean Illumination, the new software contains a strong visual component to help simplify data comparisons, while the graphics it produces can be readily exported to create presentations in widely used applications.

“It’s amazing just how much we are able to ‘see’ in the oceans these days,” said Atle Lohrmann, founder of Ocean Illumination. “Until now, there really haven’t been any companies dedicated to producing software for post-processing of oceanographic data, so Ocean Contour is an important tool in making sense of it all in a way that is accessible to the maximum number of users.”

Lohrmann said the key to the success of Ocean Contour is its ability to speedily handle and dissect these huge datasets in a variety of ways, picking apart complex, inter-related data in a way that can be easily displayed, analysed and assessed for quality assurance.

“To date, such data processing has largely been the preserve of specialised oceanographic scientists working with their own algorithms, usually on software designed for specific manufacturers’ equipment. Ocean Contour not only caters for such high-end work but also allows those with lower levels of expertise to extract valuable information from their data,” he said.

Robert Craig, Ocean Illumination’s lead software developer, added: “Hand-crafting data processing toolkits is time consuming and error prone. This program provides a very easy way to process data from acoustic instruments without requiring much knowledge beyond being able to run a computer application.”

The first version of the software is designed for use with the Signature series acoustic Doppler dual current profiler instrumentation from Nortek, but future releases coming in 2017 will support data provided by different types of instruments, including those from other manufacturers.

Smart wireless crack monitoring

WFS Technologies, UK, and TSC, UK, have launched Seatooth ACFM, a wireless smart NDT monitoring solution designed to reduce subsea inspection costs.

A spokesman said: “TSC’s ACFM array probe is a well-established tool that can be installed on offshore structures to monitor the growth of surface breaking cracks. Seatooth is an established subsea wireless communications system that provides reliable communications through seawater and through the splash zone. It is immune to biofouling, surface noise and turbidity.

“Combining the technologies together, Seatooth ACFM is a non-intrusive, easy to deploy wireless network solution which can be retro-fitted to offshore structures and subsea assets. Seatooth ACFM units are user-configured to take readings as required, from once a minute to once per month.”

The spokesman said Seatooth ACFM can be configured as standalone sensors or within subsea wireless networks. As standalone devices, information is harvested by fly-by ROV or a diver. When configured as a wireless network on offshore platforms, real-time data is streamed wirelessly through the splash zone to an asset management control station located either on the platform or on shore.

The systems come with an internal battery pack to support between five and 15 years of operation and are installed by light-class ROV deployed off platforms.

The ability to easily install the sensors to monitor ageing assets means that the benefits of ACFM technology can now be offered even in the most challenging of environments, said the spokesman.

The new system delivers substantial cost savings to customers along with improved quality of information and is an essential tool for ageing asset management and lifetime extension strategies, he added.

OSIL adds modem

OSIL, UK, reports it has added a new low-cost, low-power satellite modem to its range of telemetry equipment. The system will publish data (including traditionally high cost/volume currents and waves) from any location globally using the Iridium satellite network.

“Monthly line rental costs are minimal, and data costs are kept low by using SBD messaging with big bundle deals available for multiple or long-term deployments,” said the company. “Conventionally current and wave data transmitted via satellite has proved expensive for the end user owing to the large amount of data produced, however OSIL is able to vastly reduce the costs by handling this data differently within the Iridium system.”

The company said the data can be encrypted or password protected for added security, and sent to a specific email address or directly to the client’s web service. The system can provide customisable alarms for when readings fall outside preset criteria or if, in the example of a buoy, the system drifts from a set GPS area, it said.

“The modem is cheap to run, is equipped with a sleep mode to reduce power consumption, and employs an RS232 serial connection. The Iridium satellite network offers pole-to-pole coverage, stronger signals, a shorter transmission path and a shorter registration time than other satellite networks, all to the benefit of the end user,” OSIL added.





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