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Larger, Deeper, and More Efficient – Offshore Technology Centers Provide Solutions to Shipbuilding Challenges

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May 22, 2012

By Neville Smith

Asian shipyards are moving into added value offshore fabrication and construction and ABS is aiding the transition through the work of its Offshore Technology Centers (OTCs). With four established around the world, in Korea, Singapore, Brazil, and China, the OTCs work closely with academic institutions, designers, and shipyards to deliver tangible solutions to engineering challenges.

These solutions are fostered from internal research as well as from direct shipyard requests, but all share a common theme: the need for innovation driven by the speed and scale of offshore rig and vessel demand. For the OTCs, the task is to work with the yards to undertake research from which engineering systems can be developed.

ABS Jer-Fang Wu
Jer-Fang Wu, American Bureau of Shipping

At ABS’ Singapore Offshore Technology Center (SOTC), consultant Jer-Fang Wu says the center has been instrumental in identifying prototype designs from research and developing them into engineering specifics, which in turns leads to classification contracts for ABS. A recent example is work with a local shipyard on a new drillship design.

SOTC is also continuing its research into fracture mechanics, producing a methodology which enables engineers and surveyors to judge more accurately whether cracks at tubular weld joints require immediate attention or whether repairs can be safely deferred until the next dry-docking.

“This work entails developing a system to judge when we should carry out the repair so solutions can be delivered across the lifecycle of an asset,” Wu adds.

The SOTC research programme is in part driven by Wu’s research among his ABS colleagues, tapping Technology and Business Development colleagues and Principal Engineers for potential research topics.

These are a combination of known long-term issues and most are both fundamental and tough problems, which require specialist research to solve. Examples include measuring the stress resulting from insertion of a spudcan into the seabed and the holding capacity of torpedo piles.

Also under study are dynamically-installed anchors including the torpedo piles for Brazilian oil major Petrobras which has its own torpedo design and wants to be able to more accurately predict their performance.

It’s an example of the real operational solution that the OTCs can help deliver, increasing productivity and potentially saving costs.

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