A new system that removes manpower from the risky task of joining sections of dredging pipe has won a dredging industry safety award.
During a ceremony at the IADC (International association of Dredging Companies) Annual General Meeting in New Delhi, IADC President Frank Verhoeven announced the Safety Award 2019 winner: Boskalis with its Floating Line Connecting System.
Boskalis’ in-house technical department developed an innovative Floating Line Connecting System (FLCS), where floating pipes are connected safely by remote control, without the need for people to get close to the pipelines, eliminating manual operations entirely. This results in fewer crew transfers and fewer safety risks.
The high risk operation of connecting pipelines was identified by the crews doing the work and the consensus was, there must be a better way. The first step was developing a self-floating pipeline that could handle sharp materials. The flexibility of this pipeline meant that 100-metre-long pieces could be placed instead of 20 metres long as is normal with steel pipes. This resulted in an immediate reduction in the number of connection points so fewer people were put in risky situations. Yet manual activities were still required. Brainstorm sessions led to various designs and demands, but it took ten years before all the pieces fell in place and a final design was made. A patent has now been applied for and the Boskalis inventors continue to look at ways to improve the design.
In many ways, the system represents a tremendous safety innovation. People are less at risk of hurting hands or fingers and don’t have to get close to the water. The system has already been applied to a port construction project in Duqm, Oman and it will soon be rolled out and be applied to future Boskalis projects.
The IADC Safety Award is intended to encourage the development of safety skills on the job and to reward people and companies demonstrating diligence in safety awareness in the performance of their profession. Given every year, the award is a recognition of the exceptional safety performance demonstrated by a particular project, programme, procedures, product, ship, team or employees.
By Jake Frith