SMASH! is the network for smart shipping. As an extension to our community and our collaboration partners we are introducing a new feature: Network partners. Starting this month, we will shine the spotlight on the companies and staff members of our network partners through monthly interviews. They will give us ‘a look behind the scenes’, tell us which developments we can expect and how they see cooperation in the SMASH!-community taking shape. Our first interview is with Ivar de Josselin de Jong, Director of Remote Inspections at Fugro.
Leading the development and deployment of remote and autonomous solutions
Ivar starts his story by introducing Fugro: “Fugro is a Geo-data company, originally from Leidschendam in the Netherlands, with a global presence in 61 countries. We collect and analyse onshore and offshore geo-data and provide our customers with time-critical insights to help them better manage their projects and asset’s life cycles in a safe, sustainable and cost-effective manner.” Fugro’s focus has shifted in recent years to renewables, with a strong emphasis on offshore wind. “We expect around 5,000 additional offshore wind turbines to be installed worldwide within the next 5 years. Fugro is involved in most global wind farm developments. The average wind farm consists of 70 to 80 wind turbines, each with its own foundation and inter-array cable, and each wind farm will have a transformer station and an export power cable connecting it to shore. The design and construction of such infrastructure requires an enormous amount of geophysical, geotechnical and metocean data. Collecting and making this geo-data available in near real time to all stakeholders, is the sweet spot of our activity. You can understand the challenge we face.”
In the construction phase of a wind farm, Fugro provides a range of positioning and construction support services and, once the wind farm is operational, they deliver monitoring and inspections solutions to clients. These inspections are increasingly done using remote solutions. “An important reason for moving towards remote solutions is people’s safety,” states Ivar. “The more people we can move from an offshore environment to one of our eight global onshore remote operation centres (ROCs), the better. Though important, safety isn’t our only driver: we also have an objective to reduce the carbon footprint of Fugro’s operations to net zero by 2035. One way is by reducing our fuel consumption and this can be achieved through our uncrewed surface vessel (USV) ‘Blue Essence’, designed and built by Fugro in partnership with SEA-KIT. The Blue Essence can operate a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that collects seabed and asset inspection data. A standard ROV support vessel uses approximately 5-8 cubic metres of fuel per day, whereas the Blue Essence only uses 180 litres per day, which is only 0.18 cubic metres, an enormous reduction in carbon emissions whilst still providing all the required inspection services. So, as an uncrewed vessel, the Blue Essence eliminates the risks associated with human involvement in offshore inspection surveys and is much more fuel-efficient, thus achieving our goal of being safer, faster and more sustainable.”
Towards a fully autonomous maritime sector
When we ask about the biggest challenges for Fugro, Ivar references changing processes within the maritime business. “Technologically, we are ready to go and the outlined vision is already achievable. Fugro’s innovative power is enormous. However, the existing regulatory framework is not shaped around uncrewed offshore operations. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) estimates several decades to get the right framework in place. If our industry works together, this timeframe could be significantly reduced, but the transformation of the maritime business will still need time. What it ultimately comes down to is: how do we ensure that autonomous and uncrewed offshore operations can be executed in a safe way?” asks Ivar.
To bring a broader perspective to this change process, Fugro has joined SMASH! as a network partner. “We want to contribute to conversations and participate in new initiatives and advancements. For example, in the field of legislation and regulations, our vision is to cooperate with all stakeholders,” says Ivar. “We are sure that we can accomplish our goals together, working closely with the industry. Remote and autonomous solutions are one of the biggest changes ever made in the maritime sector, which is exciting. Being part of this dynamic is fantastic, this is the future of the maritime sector. If we succeed in shaping and accelerating this change process together with our stakeholders, we will, once again, put the Dutch Maritime Industry on the map,” Ivar concludes.
Do you want to be part of the biggest change in the maritime sector? Join the SMASH!-community or contact us to become a network partner.