Mechanical Material Handling Study for New FPSO

With the goal of minimising manual material handling, Altrad Sparrows began working with a global FPSO owner and operator in 2021 to undertake a full mechanical handling study of lifting operations aboard a new build FPSO.

This new build FPSO is currently being constructed in South Korea and Singapore and, on completion, will be stationed offshore of Australia.

As a client of Altrad Sparrows for several years, we engaged with their engineering team during the early stages of the FPSO’s construction. With Australia being an entirely new operating location for the client, Altrad Sparrows’ knowledge of the region’s stricter requirements and proven results in completing similar work was essential.

Equipped with the relevant expertise, we were invited to undertake a mechanical handling study to evaluate alternative lifting methods on the FPSO. Working from our office in Singapore, the team began with a criticality review to identify the critical equipment requiring maintenance, repair, or replacement.

Mechanical Material Handling Study

Performing a criticality review was essential for adhering to Australia’s more stringent regulations. The regulations state that materials weighing more than 16 kilos must be identified and assessed with plans put in place for their safe removal, installation, handling, and maintenance. The initial review established whether a simple handling procedure could be introduced for that item or whether a more complex, bespoke solution would be required.

Following the initial review, the team conducted a full review of mechanical handling design, assessing all critical items and undertook an engineering study. This study included identifying the category of lift and respective proposed handling solutions.

With thousands of items of equipment to assess, the project required an efficient and highly skilled team comprising a principal engineer, senior design engineers, a senior draftsperson, general engineers, and general drafts people. With the need to mobilise teams in the UK and India, as well as utilise compliance experience in Australia; clear communication and effective collaboration were essential in delivering high-quality deliverables for the client.

Benefits of the Mechanical Handling Study

The entire focus of the mechanical handling study is to build solutions rather than work around problems. By completing the study during the very early stages of construction, the Altrad Sparrows team can identify potential issues before they get the chance to cause disruption or harm.

For example, in five years, if the client needs to remove a piece of equipment, the study results have already made them aware of any potential clashes or if bespoke handling of the equipment is required. By building in solutions at the design stage, the client can be assured that they will have the plans and processes ready to go, leading to less downtime of critical equipment.

Additional Work Scopes: Flare System Design and Guide Shoot

Initially focused on the hull, our work scope began to expand as the study continued. This included widening out to the topsides and undertaking an engineering review to design a system for changing out the FPSO’s flare.

Work is expected to continue for another year, and as the project continues, more requirements are arising. This is likely to continue during the building of the FPSO, and, with our extensive engineering expertise, we can react quickly to the evolving work scope to create bespoke engineering solutions.

One of these bespoke solutions involved the design of a guide shoot - a specialized lifting and hoisting solution that can move equipment up and down the platforms.

Using the correct rigging on top, the equipment can be lowered down on the shoot without the need for potentially risky manual handling. The shoot has been engineered to take the majority of equipment from the criticality review. And by designing it at this early stage, the design can be altered to fit ongoing requirements.

Completely tailored to the client’s requirements, the solution draws on the extensive engineering experience of Altrad Sparrows to provide quality-assured lifting and handling solutions that address specific client challenges.

Next Steps for the FPSO

At present, Altrad Sparrows has an engineer acting as the client’s representative who reviews all bidding and technical documents from crane suppliers, ensuring all specifications are compliant. Essentially handling all engineering-related tasks, the client can rely on Altrad Sparrows’ qualified engineer to answer any technical queries.

The aim of this project is to create all the required lift and maintenance plans so that the FPSO has the procedures and processes in place to handle movement, installations, and repairs for the duration of its planned 20-year life off the coast of Australia.

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