Research and development
Boskalis makes targeted investments in applied (scientific) research and the development of new techniques to keep us ahead of the field. Innovations in working methods and equipment allow for the efficient and sustainable deployment of our people and resources. New activities we have added to our portfolio in the past few years call for new ideas and applications or refinement of existing techniques.
Boskalis collaborated with VSMC (in which we took a 50% stake later in 2013) to develop a new innovative trencher to deploy for the offshore cable-laying activities: the Trenchformer. Moving across the seabed on rubber tracks this new type of unmanned vehicle is able to dig a trench in a single movement and draw a cable at the guaranteed digging depth. The Trenchformer is capable of dealing with many different types of soil. Its precise and efficient way of working avoids unnecessary earthmoving as the trench is made no deeper or wider than necessary. This reduces the energy consumption involved in cable-laying work, lowers costs and causes less disruption to the underwater world. The Trenchformer’s maiden deployment will be on the Baltic 1 and 2 offshore wind farm projects, for which it will be mobilized in 2014.
Boskalis has developed special equipment for placing the piles used to fix wind turbines to the seabed during the installation of offshore wind farms. First an upending hinge is used to set the piles upright in a safe and controlled manner before pile-driving commences. Once a pile has been upended the Boskalis Pole Gripper ensures that it is held stable and vertical in the right position. What makes the Boskalis Pole Gripper special is that it can hold a pile in position 13 meters below deck level. This means that shorter piles can be used. This was necessary with the construction of the West of Duddon Sands wind farm; there was a volcanic seabed to contend with and shorter piles were used that had to be able to be manipulated below deck level. The Boskalis Pole Gripper enabled this part of the work to be performed with great precision.
Hard soil cutting
Boskalis develops techniques that enable us to break new ground with existing equipment. In 2013 we developed a new cutter head for our cutter suction dredgers to equip them for cutting harder soil. We are gaining initial experience with this in Qatar. For our backhoe we are using a new drum cutter that uses a rotating drum to cut the soil loose. We have developed a drag arm for use in conjunction with this which then sucks up the soil. Our new ship the Ndeavor is being equipped with this drag arm.
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