November 2018

Let's start at the Front End

Efficiencies can be found at every step of the project, but most significant ones are gained at the planning stage - with the help of a skilled team of engineers.

When you decide to make a change, it’s usually because you’re looking for something better.

I left behind a long career of working for major equipment manufacturers and EPIC contractors to join MDL - I chose to return to a supply chain company, because I knew this would steer me on an exciting new path.

Over the years MDL has made a name for itself for bringing new technology into a market traditionally reluctant to trialing anything that starts with the word “new”.

Going against the grain, MDL continues to bring innovation to the market, but at minimum risk, as every new system is thoroughly engineered, taking into account past learnings, new technological advancements, as well as feedback received from clients and from the wider sector itself.

In turn, the improvements to safety and operational efficiencies that can be achieved with this technology are market-changing. My main driver for joining the company was to bring these efficiencies to life; but once I joined, it became clear that MDL is more than just a brilliant equipment provider.

With complete capabilities in-house: from manufacture to software development, and from project management to after-sale support, MDL has been advising clients not only on the best technology for their projects, but also the best application to yield the best possible returns.

To give you an example: a client came to us with a request for a reel drive system and a tensioner, that needed to be mounted in the firing line of an existing VLS on board the vessel, using an independent support frame.

We offered them the equipment, a custom-design support structure as well as recommended and designed a custom hang-off collar to integrate with the existing vessel hang off, completing a full flex-lay package for deployment of the product.

But then, we also advised them on relocating the RDS from where it was originally planned on the vessel; assisted with creation of a new deck plan; created a 3D visualisation to help them conceptualise the idea; and engineered full sea-fastening for all equipment, not just MDL’s.

Of course, the engineering department plays a key role in this - hence why we have recently increased our internal capacity, by adding more design, structural and project engineers, all of whom have developed their skills in the marine and offshore sectors.

This team - supported by specialist in-house disciplines, such as electrical, hydraulic, fabrication and software - takes care of the complete pre-project planning, long before the equipment mobilisation.

It all actually starts with the company’s heritage of being an equipment designer and manufacturer, and therefore understanding the capabilities required for handling specific products in given sea-state conditions.

The manufacturing expertise also guarantees that industry-wide safety codes such as LOLER and PUWER are employed in all our operations. This allows our team to specify the correct equipment needed for the job, taking into account safe lifting and working loads; or, alternatively, understanding what ancillary systems are required to safely maximise the use of the client’s own equipment.

Next comes our decades-long collective experience of working on or with the back deck - and knowing all too well what doesn’t work and what to look out for.

This knowledge sets the basis for efficient deck planning. The identified equipment is located in the most optimum positions on deck to work with the vessel, and we can even reduce the equipment required by utilising existing on-board facilities. This can be presented as a storyboard to give a clear picture of how the deck will look and integrate.

As the equipment’s manufacturer we are ideally placed to assist the customer with deck reaction load calculations and we understand whether deck stiffening is required or if it can be eliminated.

Finally, there’s the engineering of sea-fastening, planning out safe wire runs, assessing crane lifting requirements and any other port services required for the mission.

After this point, there are other support services MDL can provide in preparation for the project, such as welding and inspection services, as well as deck clean-up after demobilisation.

This complete pre-project support is part of our consultancy service, available whether or not you choose to rent or buy equipment from us - although it’s worth noting we are the only supplier of pipelay equipment on the flexlay market that is design-verified by DNV and Lloyds, giving you that extra peace of mind that your project solution is engineered to the highest quality.

So, rather than worrying about the risks, snags and amounting costs on your next mission, let’s start talking at the planning stage - and see your project come together smoother and faster than ever before.

Alic Wilson, Engineering Manager