Photo: Jan De Nul

Jan De Nul and Huisman elevate offshore lifting game

Huisman cranes onboard Jan De Nul’s next-generation installation vessels, Voltaire and Les Alizés, will feature a specially designed type of clamp – the Universal Quick Connector (UQC).

Jan De Nul and Huisman elevate offshore lifting game
Source: Jan De Nul

For these cranes, which will be the largest in their class, Huisman developed the UQC based on the expertise of Jan De Nul’s operational and engineering team. The innovation is expected to result in a major step-change in safer offshore hoisting activities, the companies said.

Robby De Backer, Director Newbuilding at Jan De Nul Group, said: “Our newbuilding department has developed the Universal Quick Connector together with Huisman, our trusted partner in pioneering technology. This innovation will considerably increase the safety during offshore lifting and installation activities. With this UQC, we provide our offshore installation teams on board of both vessels with better means to control the lifting operations in a safe way. This will definitely improve and support the offshore installation industry in general.”

The Universal Quick Connector is described as a smart, modular, and robust clamp which is mounted inside the crane’s lower block. The clamp attaches and detaches loads and tools directly to the crane’s lower block without rigging. The process is entirely hands-free and fully automatic.

This working method allows for the typically manually assisted (de)rigging to be prepared outside of the critical path of the lifting operation, the companies said.

Henk Weterings, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Huisman, said: “We are delighted to have Jan De Nul Group as launching customer for our Universal Quick Connector tool. By refining this concept with the operational and procedural expertise of Jan De Nul’s engineering teams, we have created an integrated tool which will increase safety and workability on board. We envision that this tool will be the first of many in the offshore lifting industry.”

Because rigging is no longer needed, the crane fitted with the UQC can optimize available lifting heights and work subsea where traditional equipment encounters difficulties when rigging a load.

The UQC is fitted with an active rotation device increasing operational control when attaching the load. It allows the rotation of the load to finetune its orientation without additional taglines. This enables the accurate positioning of heavy components as well as wind turbine components with strict bolt pattern tolerances.

The clamp connects to the lifting tool with a specific pin. Any lifting tool fitted with this pin can be used by the UQC. The UQC will also be able to hoist existing lifting tools by means of an intermediate lifting eye and pin connection. And if conventional rigging is needed, a traditional hook fitted with the pin can be mounted in the UQC.

Once delivered in 2022, Voltaire and Les Alizés will be capable of handling the newest generation of offshore wind turbines and foundations.

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