The evolution of innovation

The date 12/12/12 was a date to remember. The first Barge Master, BM-001, motion compensating platform was presented to the marine engineering fraternity. The idea came from Martijn Koppert in 2009. He wanted to make a stable platform on a vessel working at sea with a wave height that would have, up to then, stopped work using cranes to lift heavy pieces of equipment.

Any vessel at sea, whether it is a supply vessel or a pontoon, is subject to six degrees of freedom (DoF) of movement. The vessel can rotate, this is called yaw, and it can surge, backwards and forwards, and it can sway left to right. These three degrees of freedom can be arrested by cables or chains attached to anchors which have been laid on the seabed, or by using modern technology, dynamic positioning (DP). DP, using thrusters and propellers, keep the vessel heading in one direction over the same part of the seabed. Koppert wanted to compensate for the remaining three DoF, caused by waves and swell, namely heave, roll and pitch. This is motion where the vessel moves on two horizontal axis, bow to stern and port to starboard, and a further vertical axis. The combination of these movements will cause a load suspended from a crane on board a vessel to swing wildly, therefore stopping the work on hand.

Koppert and Jan-Paul van den Bos set up Barge Master BV to tackle this problem. While Koppert and fellow engineer Eelko May set about design, Van den Bos started looking at funding the project. It soon became obvious that it would require large amounts of funding if the device was going to succeed. Frans van Seumeren was found to be passionate about promoting innovation; he looked at Barge Master and liked what he saw. Van Seumeren joined the team as chairman of the
Barge Master supervisory board. The team was complete.

With technical input from Rexroth a scale model was made for testing at MARIN. The scale model tests at MARIN showed that the wild swinging of the suspended load could be arrested. Measurements were taken and calculations were made, and the design of a working operational platform was completed. Rexroth started on the drive and control system and construction was begun on BM-001. When the construction work was completed, Barge Master set about exhaustive tests at sea, and, as the BM-001 was unique, they had to set their own parameters. Nothing like this had ever been tested before for certification. They set stringent parameters for the tests in the open sea and the results exceeded their expectations. 95% of the motion was compensated. Testing with differing anchoring systems, differing ballasting conditions; testing with a maximum 700 tons weight on the platform; testing with a 400 ton crane, testing, testing and more testing. It works, and is now set for full operational assessment in working conditions on any type of vessel or barge. A good example of the evolution of innovation.

Dick Hill

Main features
Name:                                      BM-001
Owner:                                    Barge Master BV,
the Netherlands
Design:                                    Barge Master BV,
the Netherlands
Type:                                         Motion compensation
Hydraulic Cylinder stroke: 2.5m
Foot print:                               14mx16m
Max weight:                           700t
Transportable in ten 40 foot containers

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