Michael Gibson is a Project Manager for our Asset Integrity service line, based at our remote operations centre in Aberdeenshire, UK. Michael joined Ashtead Technology in January 2021 at the start of a large mooring inspection campaign in Australia where we provided seamless 24-hour remote operations support from two separate locations in the UK and Canada, and successfully utilised our 3D modelling capabilities remotely.

In our first blog post of 2022, Michael provides an overview of Ashtead Technology’s growing remote operations capabilities and how we are playing our part to ensure safer, faster, and more sustainable project delivery.

Overview

A growing number of offshore operators are turning to remote operations solutions to reduce offshore POB and resulting risk exposure and also to help increase efficiencies and reduce carbon footprint.

Through our remote operations centres in the UK and Canada, Ashtead Technology’s Asset Integrity team is using remote operations to deliver UWILD and life extension mooring inspection.

Last year, we successfully delivered projects in Angola, Australia, Malaysia, Norway and the USA for major energy operators and continue to see significant uptake for our remote inspection services for the integrity management of subsea structures and production systems.

Prior to the pandemic, many offshore operators had already adopted remote operations solutions to improve their efficiencies and consistency. Initially considered mostly a nice-to-have, these solutions are now becoming critical to ensuring operational continuity. Our onshore remote operations centres provide a remote, yet connected, working environment for specialists, customer representatives, and additional support personnel and ensure customers can make the best use of time, reduce mobilisation cost, and benefit from onshore expertise.

Flexibility and reliability

The ability to have inspection personnel online only when required has proved very beneficial during Covid-19 related travel restrictions, when quarantine and country specific isolation periods have in some cases added several more weeks to an inspection campaign. Remote operations allows inspection vessels to remain onsite to conduct other work scopes, reducing the requirement to return to port, giving a flexible and reliable solution for our customers. Our remote operations teams can mobilise with as little as 48-hours’ notice, provide 24-hour coverage, and stand down immediately upon completion of the work scope. We can also conduct hybrid remote operations, with one offshore operator and one onshore remote operator working back to back 12 hour shifts, combining the flexibility of a remote service, with on-site technical support.

Health, safety and sustainability

Reducing personnel onsite has a number of implications, not least the reduction of risk exposure through eliminating the need for travel, helicopter transportation and potentially extended durations onboard a vessel. Remote operations allows operators to return home after completing a shift, minimising the separation from family and friends. The reduced requirement for transport and travel provides a considerable reduction in carbon impact and related costs that are normally associated with moving personnel to offshore work sites.

Summary

Remote operations allow us to continue to bring specialised digital technologies to our global customer base and carry out more inspections throughout the year whilst meeting some of the industry’s most pressing challenges.

With the ability for operators and engineers to have live control over critical functions remotely, this will improve the integrity management of safety-critical assets, whilst reducing risk, cost and carbon emissions.

In 2019, James Christie joined Ashtead Technology as Regional Director for the Asia Pacific region. In our latest blog post, James shares his thoughts on his time with the company so far, how the business has evolved over the past few years and plans for continued growth.

Overview

“2021 was a year of uncertainty and reward for Ashtead Technology’s Asia Pacific region business. Despite the challenging market conditions, compounded by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, we continued to strengthen our market presence and grow our capabilities to support our customers’ offshore energy projects.

“Much of this success can be attributed to the recent investments we have made over the past few years, both organically and through M&A, which have enabled us to enhance our offering, grow our track record and position us for the future.

Ongoing strategic investment

“Along with the recruitment of key operational personnel to grow and strengthen our team, we doubled the size of our Singapore facility as part of our international growth strategy. By acquiring neighbouring space on the same site, we have expanded our property footprint to accommodate a wider range of electronic and mechanical equipment and increase our test facilities to better support customers based in the region and internationally.

“The integration of recent complementary acquisitions has also been central to our growing success in the Asia Pacific region. Through Ashtead Technology’s acquisitions of Welaptega and Underwater Cutting Solutions, we have further strengthened our capability enabling us to offer our customers a broader and more complete service package for their Survey & Robotics, Mechanical Solutions and Asset Integrity challenges in the region.

Bolstering our track record & new growth opportunities

“Through leveraging our enhanced capabilities, we have enjoyed a particularly busy year, securing a broad range of IMR work scopes across the region. These have ranged from asset integrity remote operations projects in Malaysia and Australia, to the provision of coating removal and subsea cutting solutions in Malaysia and India respectively.

“Since the start of the year, our asset integrity teams have delivered eleven remote operations projects across seven global locations. Remote operations allows us to continue to bring specialised digital technologies to our global customer base and carry out more inspections without the cost and difficulties of mobilising personnel to remote locations, ultimately improving the integrity of safety-critical assets, whilst reducing risk and carbon emissions.

Offshore renewables focus

“The energy transition represents a huge opportunity for our business. The offshore wind market in Asia is expected to experience massive expansion over the next decade, particularly in the more advanced economies of Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, as Governments face increasing pressure to focus on climate change, renewable energy sources, and hit their net-zero emissions targets. Based on our recent successes in supporting offshore renewables projects in Asia, Europe and the USA we are well placed to benefit from the growth of this key market in Asia.

Looking ahead

“Our focus is on delivering and exceeding our customers’ expectations so we continue to expand our capabilities and grow our track record in the region. We are committed to ongoing investment in our facilities, equipment and people to meet the anticipated increase in demand for our specialist services in the Asia Pacific region.

“At the core of our brand, is our deep-rooted capability amassed through the acquisition of some of the most technical and reputable brands in our specialist fields. We will continue to harness this expertise to ensure we provide our customers’ projects with the optimum solutions, delivered safely, reliably and cost-effectively.”