Jan De Nul Orders Hi-Tech Pile Gripper for its Les Alizés Installation Vessel

Credit: Jan De Nul
Credit: Jan De Nul

Offshore installation firm Jan De Nul Group has ordered an advanced electrical Motion-Compensated Pile Gripper for its new floating installation vessel Les Alizés. 

The custom-made gripper, to be delivered by Imeca, with an integrated X-Laboratory guidance and survey system, will allow safe and efficient installation of next-generation monopiles with pin-point accuracy, according to Jan De Nul.

"Gripper delivery is planned for H2 2022 and this new mission equipment helps to future proof Jan De Nul Group foundation installation capability," Jan De Nul said.

"With the construction of both Les Alizés and the jack-up Installation vessel Voltaire well underway, Jan De Nul Group will shortly have the capability to not only install next-generation foundations but also wind turbines (WTGs), safely and efficiently," the company said.

Jan Van De Velde, Head of Newbuilding Department: “It is our continued philosophy to focus on operational efficiency, with improving safety as the main objective. 

"For this innovative Motion-Compensated Pile Gripper we have challenged our suppliers to meet our functional requirements. Imeca is an experienced system integrator with a solid offshore track record, and will form a strong team with its complementary partner X-Laboratory, known for its innovative plug-and-play control solutions for offshore wind applications. With this gripper investment, we stay one step ahead in offering the renewables industry a one-stop-shop installation solution.”

Once delivered, Les Alizés will allow for the installation of very large components including jackets exceeding 4,500 mt, and heights in excess of 100 meters, and monopiles weighing over 3,000 mt and an outer diameter exceeding 12 meters.

The Imeca Motion-Compensated Pile Gripper will have an integrated survey system that enables continuous monitoring of the monopile from insertion into the gripper to hammering completion. 

"This will considerably improve the control over the monopile and will positively affect the decision-making process between operational steps," Jan De Nul said.

"Thanks to the X-Laboratory Guidance System’s embedded emergency recovery control mode, the gripper will be able to control the monopile even in the hypothetical absence of the DP system and thrusters. The gripper will operate autonomously to keep the monopile and vessel stable, long enough to return all systems to a safe state," Jan De Nul added.

Kara Konate, Technical Director Imeca: "The challenge for this gripper project was to have a safe and reliable solution providing the required workability in all operational phases in an efficient manner. This requires tremendous precision and reactivity on a large machine. We have achieved this through an innovative low friction bearing system and our internally developed electric drive and control system making use of permanent magnet-assisted electric motors. Supercaps are used to reduce the power demand from the vessel."

André Schiele, CEO X-Laboratory: “Handling large monopiles safely and with high accuracy during the various installation phases of a floating operation is a profound engineering challenge. We applied our Space Engineering heritage to the development of the X-Control Guidance System and the X-Cam Survey Sensor Suite, which we initially developed for our PuppeteerTM motion compensation tool. Jan De Nul’s monopile gripper will be equipped with the latest state-of-the-art technology and fulfil strict redundancy requirements. 

"It will allow resource-efficient, weather robust and high-reliability operations, delivering the potential to disrupt the floating wind pile installation market."

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