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Lifting and rigging challenges in offshore wind highlighted

Published on 9 January 2023

IMCA’s Marine & Quality Manager Mark Ford discusses feedback from the 12th IMCA Lifting and Rigging Seminar which was attended by over 120 people in Amsterdam in October 2022.

Attracting delegates from Europe, South Africa, North and South America, a seminar recently held by IMCA’s Lifting and Rigging Committee (LRMC) highlighted the technical and operational challenges posed by increasingly heavier lifts in the offshore wind sector.

Opening the 12th IMCA Lifting and Rigging Seminar, IMCA chief executive Allen Leatt explained lifting and rigging’s centrality to everything in offshore construction and that lifting in offshore wind “has a number of technical challenges”. Statistics abounded confirming the physical enormity of the challenges – Siemens Gamesa spoke of 19,747 lifts in 2022 (for 223 turbines) with 110,000 lifts expected by 2030 (for 1,500 turbines).

Seaway 7 emphasised the size and weight of the near-future XXL monopiles, soon requiring a 2,500-3,000+ tonne lift of a roughly 125-m-long object, with a 10-11-m diameter, lifting at heights in excess of 120 m.

Remazel illustrated a slightly smaller version of these XXL giants dwarfing a Jumbo jet.

Using Slido, delegates indicated ‘offshore operations’, ‘lift planning’ and ‘lift tooling design’ were among the top three reasons, respectively, for attending the seminar, according to seminar and LRMC chair Laura Lombardi of Usha Martin Italia.

IMCA Contact

Mark Ford
Marine & Quality Manager

Providing a rundown on IMCA’s lifting and rigging documents I concentrated particularly on the revised ‘Guidelines for Lifting Operations’ (IMCA LR 006) with its new appendix on lifting of offshore wind turbine components, now endorsed by the G+ for use in the offshore wind industry. I touched on a specific and vital section on the dangers caused by complacency. Due to the repetitive nature of offshore lifts, this is a serious concern. Each lift should be performed as if being carried out for the first time; and be the subject of a pre-lift ‘toolbox talk’ to ensure all hazard mitigations have been implemented.

The first of our two interactive workshops gauged audience opinion on their top three technical and operational challenges – ‘increasing component size’ was followed by ‘lift planning and forecasting’, and ‘increasing lift height’. These, and the other nine issues raised, will be studied by IMCA’s LRMC to identify integration into their work programme. In this (and subsequent presentations), stressing how huge windfarm components are becoming, caused many questioners to wonder: “When will their growth stop?”. Increasing component size requires an increase in the number of vessels and resources, including competent lift planners – vital to any project.

Our second workshop also took the challenges on board, homing in not only on the size of components, but the limits on vessels/crane capacity and operating modes; and on lift tooling systems for renewables in addition to the competence and training of lift planners.

Equipment fatigue is another challenge. In the oil and gas sector, for which many of the crane vessels were designed, a 3,500-tonne lift would not be done every day; but in the offshore wind sector, it is not unusual to do it twice a day.

Delegates heard of new developments, including Huisman’s motion compensation pile gripper; Siemens Gamesa’s deck cameras and digitalisation, allowing each lift to be monitored; Remazel’s solution to handling XXL monopiles; and Seaqualize’s full motion control for an in-air heavy lifting solution. All led to a stimulating Q&A session with suppliers – something to be included in 2023’s Lifting and Rigging Seminar in Amsterdam on 26 October.

As our full seminar report shows, we have a new mantra – ‘Adopt, Adapt and Improve’ taken by Seaway 7’s Arnoud Bosch from a 1927 quote by HRH Edward Prince of Wales.