Autumn 2020

Kraken: Underwater cable repair

A newly formed data-specialist company within the James Fisher group called James Fisher AIS (JF-AIS) has been working on a sophisticated data model which will offer incredible efficiencies in the maintenance of offshore wind cabling.   

The project, named Kraken because the complex tangle of underwater cables can look like the legendary multi-limbed sea monster when viewed from above, has the potential to transform underwater cable maintenance for offshore wind customers, and has already been well received within the industry  

Over recent years, teams within the James Fisher group have been considering different ways to make use of the enormous swathes of data produced by the various companies in the group. In 2018, tech giant IBM was chosen as a partner on a project to investigate the potential opportunities presented by that data. Then, last year, key technology experts from across James Fisher were brought together with teams from IBM for a large design thinking workshop, which hypothesized on the potential benefits of dredging up siloed data from across a myriad of organizational sources.   

Sean Huff, Managing Director of JF AIS, explains the partnership with IBM is

‘all about trying to aggregate some of the data James Fisher has across industries and make sense out of it.’

The goal was, and continues to be, transforming data into valuable information to solve problems.  

Subsequently, the group’s offshore wind high voltage business emerged as a strong potential area for data modelling.

‘Kraken was born as a means of applying data science techniques to problems encountered in high-voltage monitoring and predictive maintenance for offshore wind,’

explains Bill Ballew, head of innovation at JF-AIS.  

Over a 12-week period, he and the team from JF-AIS worked closely with IBM’s Data Elite Team to work on a prototype for Kraken.  

The concept was for Kraken to combine the condition monitoring aspects of the data gathering systems and sensor feeds from any wind farm with a 4D component that will determine the development rate of anomalies within the high voltage systems and so, help to plan interventions.  By adding in weather windows from Mermaid (cutting edge weather-monitoring software) as well as manifest building and routing optimization from OWMS (the acclaimed marine management system), Kraken should then allow for cradle-to-grave planning and execution of offshore operations.  

For the Kraken prototype, data was transposed into ‘data visualizations’, delivered as insights which provide at-a-glance information via an easy-access ‘dashboard’. The team was able to show that the system enables an asset manager to assess subsea cable risk and determine maintenance schedules without any need for diver inspections.  The dashboard could be used to drill down for live updates of the health of a cable, account for anomalies, and view predictions for potential risk to better plan for cable maintenance and continuity. 

Most importantly, they were able to show that insight gained through data visualization and predictive maintenance could ensure interruptions to energy utility services – when relaying generated power from the offshore wind farms back to consumers on land – were kept to an absolute minimum. The ability to make predictions about these cables remotely – despite their restrictive location hundreds of meters below sea level – is an invaluable asset.  

Bill explains:

‘When you can combine all sensor data about any offshore asset, with weather predictions (via Mermaid) and wind and tide patterns (via OWMS) you can start to make significant cost savings by fine-tuning maintenance visits and then scheduling vessel hire in advance.’  

When the Kraken concept was presented to an audience of offshore wind industry customers and participants, including representatives from major wind farm giants such as industry representatives from SSE, EDF, Vattenfall and TenneT, the reaction was positive.    

‘We are extremely optimistic about the potential of data modelling systems like Kraken,’

says Bill.

‘In fact, we envision a future where our suite of leading edge, modular applications will be the methodology of choice to drive efficiency and profitability into the offshore wind market as it grows and further matures over the coming 10 years.’   

The JF-AIS team is also working with IBM to apply data visualisation to other areas of business within the James Fisher group.

‘The IBM collaboration has made it possible to start bringing the many data streams created by the various companies within the James Fisher group together to form ‘models’ which help users visualise or predict what’s happening or what might happen in the future,’

says Bill.    

One example of this is the use of R2S (James Fisher’s award-winning digital twin system) as the basis for gathering, storing and providing visual asset management throughout the entire lifecycle of any asset.  This would provide a way to download all important information about any asset, and tag it to a specific point on a 360-degree photograph from the earliest design phase right through construction to provide a data management and aggregation system as a central point of referral throughout that asset’s life. 

Watch the video here

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