General Robotics Limited (GRL), the leading supplier of subsea simulators, has won an order for a second ROVolution simulator from Sonsub Ltd the subsea services construction provider. This simulator will be used to train pilot-technicians specifically for Sonsub's own Innovator ROVs. The ROVolution simulator will be installed in Aberdeen by Christmas, and integration with an Innovator console is to be completed by March 2007.
Sonsub employs and trains people worldwide, and it is setting up a centre in Aberdeen for advanced training dedicated to the Innovator and heavy-work class ROVs in general. Training is also carried out on Sonsub's ROVolution simulator in Singapore, which GRL delivered in July. This is used for basic training and assessment of pilots, and uses a standard GRL ROVolution with an ARGUS console, simulating a Triton ROV.
"We looked at other simulators, but we found ROVolution to be a very good product at the right price", said Giorgio Martelli, Sonsub's Managing Director. "We also found GRL an excellent company to work with because we were not simply buying an off-the-shelf system, the ROVolution simulator we are developing for Aberdeen has to be specifically adapted to work with our own Innovator ROV."
"Sonsub, part of the global Saipem group, has identified simulation as a core subsea tool and is working with us actively to create a roadmap for future development," commented Dr Jason Tisdall, Director of Business Development, General Robotics Limited. "Sonsub with its global reach, wide range of operating environments and underwater systems makes an exciting partner for GRL."
Sonsub uses over 60 ROVs from light inspection machines like the Apache and Mohawk, to medium workload vehicles such as the Triton and MRV class, and deep water, heavy-work vehicles like the Innovator which Sonsub designs and builds itself. These machines all have different capabilities and make different demands on the operator, which has resulted in the development of Sonsub's two tier training programme.
"Sonsub's experience is that you cannot train people effectively with only off-shore sessions," said Giorgio Martelli. "Off-shore accommodation is very limited, the work is challenging and involves complicated operations with delicate equipment, which is not suitable for people to learn on. A simulator provides the environment where people can learn and make mistakes without damaging consequences."
Sonsub terms its ROV operators Pilot Technicians. While simulator training involves 'flying' Sonsub also trains pilots to repair and maintain the ROVs, which requires considerable, highly-specific knowledge of the electronic, hydraulic and mechanical systems. The operators Sonsub sends off-shore need to be able to take the machines apart, change components and reassemble them. Simulator training also involves learning to troubleshoot problems using diagnostics software included in the ROVolution simulator, which reproduces hardware failures so trainees can practice fault finding.
An important benefit of a simulator integrated with a ROV is the capacity to perform what Sonsub terms Mission Planning and Rehearsal. A project team will prepare a complete 3D virtual scene of the subsea facility, and pilots and other off-shore personnel are given a chance to perform the planned operations in a simulated environment. This gives an invaluable opportunity to practice the best way of carrying out the planned tasks, exposing possible problems and allowing alternative strategies to be developed before going offshore.
Sonsub has 16 Innovators and is building another four, due to be completed in the next few months.
ROVolution is a real-time simulator which hydrodynamically models any ROV, using cost-effective PC hardware running Windows XP for ROV pilot training, manipulator operator training, subsea task planning and access simulation.