Offshore access for people and cargo was a complicated and risky procedure in the past due to high waves and wind. There were many previous accidents that harmed people and damaged/destroyed cargo during bad weather conditions. To overcome these risky working conditions, many kinds of research carried on and finally one succeeded.
Yeah! The company is Ampelmann Operations B.V established in 2007 as a spin-off of the Delft University of Technology with a vision to make offshore access as simple as crossing the street. The company introduced safe, efficient and reliable systems which are motion compensated gangways to transfer people and cargo from ships to offshore structures and from shores to offshore structures. The advanced technology they introduced will reduce the effects of high wave, high wind, and other weather-related issues by stabilizing the passage. Normally, Ampelmann’s offshore access systems are used by oil and gas and offshore wind industry.
The Ampelmann company specializes in the development, construction, and establishment of these offshore access systems. They have safely worked with more than 300 projects around the globe and transferred 5 million people and 10 million kilograms of cargo. Currently, Ampelmann has 60+ systems operating worldwide for safe and efficient offshore access.
Offshore oil & gas industry, the offshore wind industry, the floating vessel FPSO(Floating production storage and offloading), and most of the other floating structures in the sea will utilize the Ampelmann system. This walk to work system has many applications like cargo transfer, ship-to-ship functionality, hose support, refueling options, crew change, repair and maintenance of offshore structures, etc.. At present, these offshore transfer systems are choices for popular worldwide IOC’s like BP, Shell, Total, Siemens, Jumbo, ExxonMobil, etc...
Before introducing Ampelmann’s offshore access system; helicopters, larger vessels or inflexible jack-ups were used for offshore transportation of people and cargo. But, it was almost difficult and expensive. By hiring a Ampelmann’s system, workers can work without any interruption by simply parking the ship near to the structure. This plug and play system has other benefits like increased tool time, maximize persons on platforms, increased workability, own power pack, no modification to offshore structure, and adaptive to all weather conditions. For safe and effective working, the company will provide necessary peripherals for repair and maintenance, and trained operators along with the gangway.
The Ampelmann History In a Glance
The Ampelmann’s journey to simplify offshore transfer safer and efficient begins from 2002 onwards by presenting the idea at offshore wind conference Berlin. After 2 years of research and meeting, the final patent was submitted at the European Wind Energy Conference 2004 in London.
Prior to development, they conducted scale model tests to check the functionalities of the proposed system in 2005. For the dry test, they placed two hexapods one above the other and the motion generated by the bottom hexapod was compensated by top hexapod. The wet test was conducted by mounting the model on top of a boat in a tank facility at Delft University and succeeded.
In 2006, they started the design and development work for the new full-scale prototype with 5 engineers. This prototype was named Demonstrator and was tested onshore in 2007 in front of the public. From 2007 onwards the Ampelmann company started their operation and launched new types including A-type(2008), E-type(2012), O-types(2013), AEP(2017), etc.
With 10 plus years of experience, Ampelmann safely transfers over 5 million people and 10 million Kilograms of cargo with 60+ systems worldwide.
The Ampelmann Technology Behind Safety
A motion compensated gangway allowing safe and efficient people and cargo transfer is the key feature of the Ampelmann system. Every vessel in the sea is subjected to motion with the effect of waves, tides, wind, and movement of the ship. The Ampelmann system will self-stabilize the gangway by compensating this motion. The base section of the platform will compensate the motion by creating an opposite force and hence will stabilize the upper deck for safe and reliable passage.
To compensate six degrees of motion, the Ampelmann system adapted a hexapod with six hydraulic cylinders. The hexapod will generate a counter movement to all motions and stabilizes the upper deck.
Key features of some important types of Ampelmann system are listed below.
The first commercial project of Ampelmann used A-type system for transferring personnel to a fixed or floating structure. It has a gangway length of 20-25 meters and can compensate sea states up to 3M HS. This system can safely transfer 20 persons in less than 5 minutes and can carry cargo up to 100 kg using KIB cargo basket. The A-type system requires a vessel larger than 55m.
E-type Ampelmann systems can be used for cargo transfer up to 100 tons. Unlike A-type, the cylinder size of this Ampelmann system is 1.5 times more than A-type. This system has 25-30 meter gangway length and can compensate sea states up to 4.5M HS. The E-Type system is suitable for vessels larger than 70m.
L-type systems are the smallest Ampelmann system suitable for small, non-DP vessels. With this system, 50 people can be transferred from small vessels to a floating/fixed structure in five minutes. This easy to operate system has 13meter gangway length and can compensate sea states up to 2M HS. This is a fully electric powered system requiring a minimum vessel length 30m.
The Ampelmann’s O-type systems are used for 24/7 connections with the platform. With this system, people can be transferred safely from the vessel to offshore structures. The system has a gangway length of 20m and can compensate sea states up to 2.5M HS. This system uses an HPU power source and requires a vessel larger than 50m.
The Ampelmann’s N-type system is suitable for transferring personnel in extremely cold conditions like ice, snow, etc. This system is designed to withstand temperature up to -40°C. The N-type system has a gangway length of 32m and can compensate sea states up to 3.5M HS. It requires EHPU power source and the vessel must be larger than 70m.