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Buoyancy Handling System

Automated handling of buoyancy modules


An offshore contractor was looking for a way of improving the handling of buoyancy modules on their pipe lay vessel. The existing handling method from back deck to tower workstation was deemed both unsafe and time-consuming. The aim is to provide a reliable solution which reduces safety risks, transfer and installation times, and number of personnel required.

MDL Approach

Working in close partnership with the client, MDL developed a buoyancy handling system, which considered movement of buoyancy modules and collar clamps from their storage location on deck to the workstation on the pipe lay tower. The MDL solution started with the design of a universal transport frame with tailored interchangeable inserts for appropriate buoyancy modules or clamps, mounted in two halves for quick installation. This transport frame integrates with the automated MDL Buoyancy Handling System, mounted onto the pipelay tower's workstation roof, which can be retracted out of the way when not being used.

MDL Solution

The MDL Buoyancy Handling System features two parallel runway beams with an articulating frame to travel from fully aft, moving forward towards the firing line. The push/pull hydraulic cylinders allow the system to travel both horizontally and also on an incline when the tower is angled for pipelay operations. Telescopic boom adjustment of the arms allows the height of the assembly to be altered, providing greater manoeuvrability for initially loading the transport frames and for installing onto the pipe, as well as to efficiently disengage from the buoyancy module once installed onto the pipe. The system's base is actuated to split the buoyancy or clamp halves for mounting and to bring the assembly together around the pipe, ready for personnel to secure in place.

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