In our latest employee feature article, Ankit shares his thoughts on his time with the company so far, how significant investment in the Asia Pacific region is benefitting customers locally and our plans for continued growth.
Discuss your current role within Ashtead Technology
I am the Business Development Manager for Ashtead Technology’s Asia Pacific region. Based on the depth of capabilities across the organisation my position is varied, but I essentially work with our customers to help add value to their business and see how we can use our integrated subsea technology solutions and services to support the delivery of their projects.
In our region, there is great scope for the full spectrum of our offering delivered across three service lines – survey & robotics, mechanical solutions and asset integrity. It is my responsibility to educate customers as to how this collective capability and strength can be used to support their installation, IMR and decommissioning work scopes.
Being visible across the Asia Pacific region is key, and my role includes plenty of travel to various locations to meet up with customers, suppliers and industry partners, whilst ensuring we are present at all of the key industry events.
There are many opportunities for us to grow our business organically in Asia Pacific, particularly in offshore wind, and I look forward to being able to harness our expertise to solve our customers’ challenges and further strengthen our track record in the region.
Outline your experience to date and how this has shaped your career
I have been with Ashtead Technology for five years now so have learnt a lot along the way, working with various teams and disciplines to deliver our regional growth strategy. The past two years have been challenging but also very rewarding times, with our region experiencing its biggest growth period to date whilst navigating a global pandemic.
I’m a firm believer in personal development and I’m currently studying for my MBA which I hope to complete in 2023. As an engineer by trade, I’m keen to enhance my commercial knowledge and expertise to strengthen my credentials and support my career ambitions.
Discuss our capabilities in the region and some of the projects recently carried out by the team
There has been significant investment in our people, technology and infrastructure in the region in recent years, enabling us to support our customers locally as the demand for our specialist services grows.
Through 2021 and into 2022, we enjoyed a particularly busy period, securing a broad array 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, India and Thailand.
We also recently secured an asset management contract with an ROV services provider to service, repair, upgrade, calibrate and store the customer’s regional assets at our facility in Singapore. We have many years of experience in this field and we are keen to build on this track record in the Asia Pacific region.
What are the opportunities for Ashtead Technology in offshore wind, specifically for the Asia Pacific region?
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.
Offshore renewable energy has become an important part of the Ashtead Technology business now accounting for a significant proportion of our Group revenue. With 37 years’ experience in the energy services sector, we specialise in a range of services throughout the lifecycle of a windfarm to help our customers assure reliable, affordable and sustainable energy.
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, using our technologies and expertise to support offshore pre-survey and support, installation, operations & maintenance and decommissioning work scopes.
In 2019, Ashtead Technology acquired Underwater Cutting Solutions (UCS), strengthening our wider subsea equipment and IMR services offering to customers globally.
Three years on, Fraser Collis, General Manager of Ashtead Technology’s Mechanical Solutions business and one of the founders of UCS, shares his thoughts on the journey so far and how being part of Ashtead Technology is providing greater value to our customers.
“Founded in 2004, UCS was a market leader in the North Sea, providing mechanical cutting, dredging and coating removal equipment and services. Over the years, we developed and successfully deployed a vast suite of purpose designed tools and techniques for the successful cutting of subsea and topside pipelines and structures.
“UCS was built around teamwork and a passion for technology. Our team enjoyed all aspects of engineering and problem solving in order to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations. This spirit is something I am immensely proud of and continue to nurture now that we’re part of the Ashtead Technology team.
International expansion and investment
“Now part of Ashtead Technology’s Mechanical Solutions service line, we are looking to further scale the business internationally and provide our specialist technologies and expertise to customers operating in key offshore energy hubs. We have already made quite substantial investment in developing and mobilising new equipment spreads to support projects in the Asia Pacific and Middle East regions and our teams in the Americas continue to expand our global fleet of equipment using their in-house design and assembly expertise.
“To meet the continued demand for our services and in-house engineering capability, we invested in growing the Mechanical Solutions team with several key operational appointments made already this year to bolster our expertise across our international locations.
“In our relentless pursuit of excellence, we also continue to invest in our equipment to ensure we remain at the forefront of what we do. This commitment to innovation and continuous improvement has led to recent enhancements to our shear cutting, diamond wire cutting and water abrasive cutting solutions portfolio in order to solve our customers’ operational challenges.
“In February 2021, we invested in a new technology facility based in Aberdeenshire, UK, which is home to our Mechanical Solutions and Europe region Asset Integrity teams. By consolidating our team and technologies in a new purpose designed facility we’ve been able to fully integrate our service offering to provide a more efficient and streamlined service for our customers. The new facility has also doubled the capacity of our previous site to accommodate our growing fleet of equipment and enabled the development of more bespoke technologies to support our customers’ unique project requirements.
Supporting the energy transition
“As part of our long-term sustainability strategy, these latest investments are enabling us to play a more proactive role in supporting customers in the offshore renewables and decommissioning markets. Through utilising our skilled people and their wealth of subsea operations domain knowledge together with our equipment and facilities, we can deliver best-in-class, cost-effective technology solutions for the construction and installation phases of offshore wind farm developments.
“Decommissioning is also playing a crucial part in the transition to becoming a net‐zero economy and based on the strength of our subsea technology know-how and track record in this field, Ashtead Technology is continuing to play an active role in the delivery of innovative, safer and low-cost technology solutions for the cutting and removal of offshore energy infrastructure.”
At Ashtead Technology, our experts are highly experienced in the delivery of asset integrity solutions for the installation, construction and life of fieldof offshore energy infrastructure.
Bo Jiang is a Data Analyst for our Asset Integrity service line, based at our facility in Halifax, Canada. Working closely with our international asset integrity and remoteoperationsproject teams, Bo’s role involves analysing critical information obtained offshore and preparing data reports for our customers.
In this article, Bo shares his experience of joining Ashtead Technology and the key role he plays to help customers make faster and more informed decisions about the integrity and future performance of their safety-critical infrastructure.
Before joining Ashtead Technology, I worked as a Systems Analyst in Singapore for several years. I had a keen interest in data analysis which led me to study Geospatial Data Analytics at Nova Scotia Community College in Canada. I was aware of Ashtead Technology as one of the leading names in subsea asset inspection and was excited to be offered the role of Data Analyst as it suited my background, knowledge and interest.
My first project within Ashtead Technology was to analyse 2D and 3D sonar data collected from subsurface jacket pile sockets to support the installation of a large offshore wind farm development in the UK offshore sector. The analysis showed the results of the socket drilling and dredging work carried out to help the customer determine the integrity of the sockets prior to pile installation. Through using my software development experience, I was able to help reduce analysis time by 50%.
How my role has evolved
On top of my data analysis tasks, I have recently completed training so I can perform photogrammetry data processing to support Ashtead Technology’s offshore 3D modelling (3DM) service offering. Photogrammetry is used to generate 3D models of critical infrastructure from 2D photos taken by offshore engineers and the models are then interrogated to obtain critical dimensions, such as linear and angular measurement, flatness and circularity deviation, interference between components, and area and volumetric calculations.
At the forefront of subsea inspection technology
Recognising the need for a cost-effective alternative to high accuracy and high-resolution 3D modelling photogrammetry, Ashtead Technology entered into a global partnership with Whitecap Scientific Corporation, the developers of ROV3D Recon, last year. ROV3D is a real-time 3D reconstruction technology that can be used on nearly every type of ROV and without external specialists. ROV3D provides digitisation to routine offshore inspection tasks and can give valuable insights to support our customers’ real-time decision making. Our team put a lot of effort into testing the camera calibrations and modelling capabilities of the ROV3D system.
I was also recently involved in the data processing to support the launch of our new optical Chain Measurement System (CMS). The system was designed by our Halifax-based engineers and uses artificial intelligence and machine vision to measure the critical dimensions of underwater chain links to manage long-term integrity. Our optical CMS solution uses high-resolution video combined with machine vision algorithms to provide real-time results which is helping to reduce chain measurement time by more than 50%.
Collaboration and teamwork
One of the things I value most about working at Ashtead Technology is being part of a strong and collaborative team. Our Halifax team is small, but large on talent and motivation. Everybody in the team has their own unique skill set that they excel at, and we all work together and help each other like a family. I really enjoy working in a team where I am continually enhancing my knowledge and expertise, and I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my career with Ashtead Technology.
At Ashtead Technology our success depends on our people and we continue to invest in growing our talented teams to support our customers’ projects worldwide. Part of our recruitment strategy includes visiting local colleges and universities to meet face to face with the next generation of talent and provide them with valuable insight into the career opportunities we have available. This process also gives potential new recruits the chance to ask questions and make direct contact with our hiring, technical and operational teams whilst getting a feel for the culture of our business.
Andy McKie is a Workshop Technician for our Survey & Robotics service line, based at our facility in Westhill, Aberdeenshire, UK. Andy joined Ashtead Technology in June 2018 as a Trainee Technician after attending one of our recruitment fairs at a local college, which then led to his appointment.
In this article, Andy shares his experience of joining Ashtead Technology since leaving the North East of Scotland College (NESCOL) in Aberdeen with an HNC in Electrical Engineering, and discusses how his role has evolved based on the experience he has gained over the past few years.
My experience as a Trainee
“I was first attracted to the role at Ashtead Technology as the company seemed like a dynamic and progressive business with plenty of opportunities to learn from a highly experienced team.
“I spent my first two years at Ashtead Technology as a Trainee Technician, working in three different teams within the workshop in order to gain a thorough understanding of the full range of equipment in the fleet and the testing, preparing and sometimes repairing that needs to be done to ensure all assets are in a project-ready condition. Based on the variety of projects we deliver for customers and the breadth of equipment in our rental pool, no two days are ever the same which makes my job very fulfilling and interesting.
How my role has evolved
“Since being promoted from Trainee Technician to Workshop Technician, I have continued to broaden my knowledge of the extensive range of equipment in Ashtead Technology’s global fleet. I have spent time on a boat calibrating one of our units, which was a great experience as it gave practical insight into how the equipment will be deployed in an offshore environment. I have also been able to travel to our offices in Houston and Broussard to assist the teams with their workshop operations.
Future career opportunities
“In the absence of a Senior Technician in my team, I often have the opportunity to step-up and lead the team. This involves providing dedicated support to Trainee Technicians along with managing a busy workload to ensure all daily tasks and project priorities are met. I plan to continue developing my career with Ashtead Technology and the next stage is to progress to the role of Senior Workshop Technician.
Working at Ashtead Technology and advice to others
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time working for Ashtead Technology so far. The team work incredibly well together to ensure we provide the best equipment and service possible for our customers. Due to our fast growth, we are continually seeing more vacancies arising across our global operations which provides the opportunity for further career progression and international travel.
“I would highly recommend Ashtead Technology to anyone looking to gain experience working for an exciting and fast-growing technology and service-driven company in the global offshore energy sector.”
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.”
In 2018, Ashtead Technology acquired Welaptega, a market leader in mooring system inspection and integrity engineering.
Almost three years on, Tyler de Gier, General Manager, shares his thoughts on the journey so far and how being part of Ashtead Technology has helped the business cement its leading position in the underwater inspection services market. Furthermore, as the demand for remote operations increases, Tyler discusses how Ashtead is playing its part to ensure safer, faster, and more sustainable project delivery.
Why was Welaptega such a good strategic fit for Ashtead Technology?
For over three decades Welaptega has performed inspection and dimensional analysis of mooring and production systems for oil and gas installations worldwide. Our technologies and expertise allow operators to manage the integrity of safety-critical assets without compromising production activities.
By bringing together two world-class portfolios, the deal significantly strengthened the group’s subsea inspection capabilities, creating a wider, more competitive offering, whilst reinforcing Ashtead Technology’s position as a leader in the provision of advanced offshore equipment solutions.
Talk about some of the recent project successes since becoming part of the Ashtead Technology team
R&D has always been integral to our success. Now part of Ashtead Technology, we have been able to continue investing in new innovations to further develop our service offering and keep us at the forefront of underwater inspection applications.
Recent innovations include continued improvement of our optical Chain Measurement System (CMS), complete with new automated edge tracking software to improve operational efficiency in high-motion environments, such as in Angola. Further CMS development is underway to reduce chain measurement time by 50% and allow the system to be deployed by Observation Class ROVs.
We have also redeveloped our existing wire mooring rope cleaning and inspection tool for use on a wider range of flexibles, including risers, umbilicals, marine power cables, and TLP tendons, to allow inspection and manage fatigue by reducing weight and drag from excessive marine growth. The Riser/Rope Cleaning and Inspection System (RCIS) has a track record in excess of 10 years as the safest and most efficient method of cleaning subsea flexibles, and now requires no specialist offshore technicians to operate it, thereby helping to keep operational costs low and reducing POB.
How is the company playing its part in support of the energy transition?
A growing number of offshore operators are turning to remote operations solutions to not only reduce offshore POB and resulting risk exposure, but also to help minimise spending, increase efficiencies and reduce carbon footprint.
So far this year, our Asset Integrity team has carried out five remote underwater inspection projects from our remote operations centres in Aberdeenshire, UK, and Canada. We’ve successfully delivered projects in Angola, Australia, and the UK for the likes of Shell, BP, and Woodside, and we have upcoming projects in Malaysia, Canada, and the USA.
Some of these projects have required remote operations due to travel restrictions, while others have opted for remote operations instead of conventional manning.
Remote operations will allow us to continue to bring specialised digital technologies to our global customer base without the cost and difficulties of mobilising personnel to remote locations, ultimately improving the integrity management of safety-critical assets.
What’s next for Ashtead Technology’s Asset Integrity team?
We are internationally recognised for our best-in-class inspection technology and service capability and through our global network of agents, we can bring our offerings to a broader customer base whilst providing a local service delivery.
Innovation will remain integral to our growth strategy as it keeps us at the forefront of what we do. In collaboration with Whitecap Scientific, SubC Imaging, and Nova Scotia Community College SEATAC division, we are also pioneering new digital twinning technology for use by conventional ROV and vessel crew rather than specialists. Guided by real-time 3D reconstruction to give feedback on image quality and coverage, minimally-trained persons will be able to confidently collect high quality image data for post-processed digital twins.
This new solution will allow our customers to cost-effectively digitise their high value, safety critical assets without the need for offshore photogrammetry specialists, facilitating a transition to unmanned operations without jeopardising service quality.
The number of offshore assets reaching their end of life, globally, is rising, meaning decommissioning projects are a real eventuality for many operators.
Decommissioning is an inherently hazardous exercise, one that requires meticulous planning, experienced people and an extremely defined skill-set, if it is to be executed safely.
In the North Sea, one of the world’s most mature offshore production basins, decommissioning will be a major industrial challenge. There are hundreds of platforms, millions of tonnes of infrastructure, and thousands of wells and structures that will need removed and recycled in the coming years.
Decommissioning is an expensive business but costs have been declining in recent years due to increased innovation, better cooperation throughout the supply chain and the development of first-class skills and capabilities.
In this blog, Stephen Booth, Ashtead Technology’s Business Development Manager, discusses the many challenges facing the sector and how Ashtead Technology can help Operators make decommissioning safer and more cost effective, whist reducing environmental impact.
“With a 20 year track record, Ashtead Technology are international experts in the provision of offshore decommissioning services for the energy sector. With one of the largest fleets of decommissioning tools and systems in the market, we specialise in ROV tooling, control and monitoring solutions, structure monitoring services, cutting systems and seabed dredging solutions.
“We offer a complete service capability for the cutting and removal of oil & gas and renewable energy infrastructure, with a proven track record in field clearance and structure & pipeline cutting and recovery. Specifically for the renewables market, we provide a suite of services for the decommissioning of met masts, monopiles, tri-pile foundation structures and export cables.
“The continued ambition to reduce decommissioning expenditure is a challenge for the whole supply chain and our aim is to provide customers with the most reliable, efficient and predictable end of life solution, delivered at the lowest cost with no compromise on best-in-class HSE performance.
Enabling technology innovation
“Innovation in decommissioning through continued investment in research, development and deployment of technology will maintain and enhance supply chain capability.
“In order to expand our market-leading offering and deliver greater value for our customers’, Ashtead Technology continues to pioneer the development of new technologies and methodologies.
“The SubseaLASE is an advanced method of laser cutting that has significant advantages over standard mechanical or water-abrasive cutting methods. An extremely versatile tool, the SubseaLASE can perform a swift remote cut regardless of orientation or geometry. Not only is cutting time significantly reduced by approximately 80%, the set up and post-cutting stages of operation are greatly simplified, with minimal human intervention required.
“SubseaLASE has the potential to revolutionise pipeline cutting operations providing a safer, low-cost and low-risk cutting solution to fast-track the decommissioning process. Furthermore, it provides Operators with a more sustainable alternative to traditional decommissioning methodologies as the process requires less human intervention and vessel time therefore reducing the emissions associated with decommissioning.
“As we approach the final development stages with this product, we have started the journey of engaging with potential sponsors to help complete the R&D process and facilitate with the commercialisation of this game-changing technology.
Centre of excellence capability deployed internationally
“Since our acquisition of UCS in 2019, Ashtead Technology’s ability to bring a decommissioning capability to international customers has significantly increased.
“Drawing on a tried and tested project management model which combines our centre of excellence expertise (delivered from our Mechanical Solutions Technology Hub in Thainstone, Aberdeenshire) with a bolstered local and international operational capability, we have recently executed multiple successful projects in the Middle East, Asia and West Africa. Furthermore, we have laid the foundations for delivering further complex, multi-service decommissioning projects across these regions, as demand requires.
“Decommissioning is an inherent part of the energy transition agenda with new ways of repurposing and reusing infrastructure being explored to minimise gas emissions. As a proactive participant in the energy transition, Ashtead Technology will continue to work with industry partners and the supply chain to support the development of new technology and methodologies to improve efficiency and reduce cost and safety risk in an environmentally responsible manner.”