Palfinger is moving ahead with the development of new remotely operated offshore cranes, following the deal it reached with Aker BP last year.
As part of this programme, it has negotiated a long term joint development agreement with its partner in the Aker BP project Optilift, for exclusive access to its technology, once the current project has been completed.
Under the agreement Palfinger will integrate Optilift’s AI technology into the control systems of its offshore cranes and other Palfinger marine products. The two companies have also agreed to explore its use in Palfinger’s higher volume, land based products, providing serious scale for Optilift’s technology.
Palfinger chief executive Andreas Klauser said: “With our strategic pillar 'Go Digital', we are constantly working on smart solutions that make our customers’ daily operations more efficient and safer. By partnering with Aker BP and Optilift, both leaders in their respective industries, we are creating synergies that put us at the forefront of developing autonomous operation solutions”.
The initial contract with Aker BP includes delivering seven cranes to its platforms, five of which will be fully remote operated from an onshore control room in Stavanger, Norway. The first cranes are due to be shipped in 2025, with the offshore commissioning of the remote operation of the cranes due to take place between 2026 and 2028.
One of the main drivers for remote controlled and autonomous cranes is their ability to transport cargo from supply vessels to offshore platforms without any human intervention, even in rough weather conditions, with minimal need of maintenance.
Aker Bp’s senior vice president of operations Georg Vidnes said: “Through the cooperation with Palfinger and Optilift, we are changing the way equipment is transported to our offshore installations. The ability to remotely control cranes from shore is a first step, followed by innovations to load and offload equipment without manual intervention - reducing the risk to personnel from equipment handling. Our ambition is that equipment can be brought onto an offshore installation by autonomously operated crane systems, such that equipment stands ready when personnel arrive at an unmanned or normally unmanned installation. This is an important part of our strategy, enabled through new technology, an innovative approach, and skilled people. We bring the future to the present day”.