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Published: 01 June 2021 01 June 2021
A desk study from ABB focusing on the Atlantis offshore test location, off the coast of Viana do Castelo, Portugal, concludes that the gains are available to operators prepared to commit to fast-emerging robotised maintenance technology.

The safe transfer of personnel between a support vessel and an offshore wind turbine platform is often the limiting factor in maintenance hours, where rough seas mean crews cannot land by walkway or from the air. In cases where maintenance can be carried out using robotics instead of personnel, the same restrictions would not apply.  
 
ABB Marine & Ports is a technology partner for the EU-funded Atlantis research project, which is exploring the use of remote offshore inspection and maintenance techniques for wind farms. The project also seeks to optimize offshore wind farm vessel uptime by expanding the understanding of the relationship between hydrodynamics and safe vessel availability. ABB’s contribution has been to develop a dedicated mission planning tool for offshore wind farms, based on the ABB Ability Marine Advisory System – Octopus. Octopus enables operations to be planned using safety limits based on acceptable vessel responses, rather than solely on the wave conditions. The new study calculates the extent to which vessels deploying robotics-based maintenance, rather than personnel, can work across a wider operational window.  
 
The ABB study analysed data at the ATLANTIS Offshore test center location, establishing that wave heights are on average below these limits 34 percent of the time. Acceptable wave heights for wind farm vessel maintenance personnel transfer are given as 1.5m. Deploying robotics-based maintenance solutions would allow a tighter acceptable safety margin, and operational wave heights to be raised to 2m. In this case, safe vessel operations could take place 46 percent of the time, raising workable vessel hours 35 percent over the original weather windows.
 
The Atlantis research project is being staged at two monitoring testbeds in the Atlantic Ocean – one off the coast of Viana do Castelo, Portugal, and the other further out to sea.
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