Navigating the challenges of subsea lifting

30 March 2020

It’s hard to imagine how difficult it must be to work in offshore conditions. Sure, you could start by looking out of the window, if you’ve lived in the UK during the last six months—we’re already up to the letter ‘D’ in the alphabet of named storms so far in 2020, and Ciara and Dennis have brought some pretty spectacularly bad weather with them in recent weeks—but, joking aside, that isn’t really a patch on the harshness of the conditions found on offshore wind farms, rigs, and so on.

While it’s obviously the human operators who have to endure the most out in the oceans, the lifting equipment that gets deployed to offshore and particularly subsea jobs also needs to be tough.

Many subsea hoists are still only used once before they have to be discarded, due to the corrosive effects of the salt water, as well as the possibility for particulate from the sea bed and other contaminants to work their way into the hoists.

Not only is that an expensive way to use a hoist, it also provides logistical problems—there isn’t usually a ‘local dealer’ in the middle of the sea who can easily deliver more hoists, so multiple units are required in stock at any given time.

It was encouraging to hear about the work of some of the subsea hoist manufacturers in our industry, then, who have not only designed hoists that can withstand multiple immersions, resisting corrosion and ingress of sand and other substances, but also worked with external bodies to develop testing regimes and standards, to guarantee end-users that their hoist can be re-used without the risk of failure—which must be a reassuring promise to have when you’re facing the aggressive conditions of the sea.

You can read about the latest developments in that sector in this issue; you can also read Mike Straus’s report on the lifting equipment market in Canada. It’s Mike’s first feature for Hoist, and I think you’ll find it as interesting as I did—there’s a mine of information not only on current market forces and on the individual events and projects influencing the Canadian economy, but also plenty of comment from individuals invested in the sector.

Mike will be reporting again later in the year to look at other regions of North America; our next report on the US will follow my visit to Modex, which takes place in Atlanta this month.

Our third and final feature in this issue is Tom Woerndl’s article on some of the lifting attachments available to end-users in our sector.

This also includes coverage of the concerns of the subsea sector, with the launch of a safety hook protected by a corrosion-resistant dual surface treatment, as well as a look at some process crane grabs that employ the benefits of ‘smart technology’, by calculating the optimum pressure and speeds required for lifting different bundles of material.

Finally, a reminder, if you’re a provider of services or products in the sector, that our future feature list can be found in our Media Pack via our website—you’re welcome to get in touch if you have any relevant news to submit.