United Kingdom

United Kingdom

A new meaning for safety at sea

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A new self-stabilising platform to make access to offshore wind turbines safer is to make its operational debut in the construction of the Greater Gabbard wind farm off the east coast of England. The Ampelmann platform is installed on a ship and actively compensates for the motion of the vessel. During construction and maintenance of offshore turbines, safe access has long been a problem and becomes more hazardous and difficult as wave heights increase.

Using a combination of flight simulator technology with real-time motion sensors, the Ampelmann six-legged hydraulic platform remains stationary by continuously measuring the movements of the vessel on which it stands. The movements are relayed to a computer that controls the length of each hydraulic cylinder in the six legs to compensate for the ship's motions. From the platform, engineers can walk across a relatively stable gangway onto a turbine base.

The system was developed by Dutch technology starter Ampelmann Company at Delft university. Last year it was tested on several offshore projects. This summer and next, the system is being contracted by Jumbo Offshore to provide access to the transition pieces being installed at Greater Gabbard, a 500 MW offshore project being built by Scottish and Southern Energy subsidiary Airtricity and utility RWE Innogy. The Ampelmann will be installed on Jumbo Offshore's vessel the Jumbo Javelin.

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