Autumn 2015

It's a family affair

James Fisher companies are working together at the Patrick Marine Facility at the Port of Dampier in Australia.

An engineering project the size of the massive Patrick Marine Facility which is 3500m2 (as big as half a rugby pitch) and extends 100m out to sea at one of Australia’s largest bulk export ports requires specialist support. But in recent months, a number of group companies have been able to work together to provide a range of services for this significant structure.

Maritime Engineers was instrumental in the design of the floating wharf, Fendercare Marine has provided innovative fendering solutions, and most recently Strainstall was called in to design and install a sophisticated load measurement system to monitor the performance of the floating deck.

Because Dampier is so remote, and the new floating wharf stretches so far out to sea, there were real concerns that it might struggle to cope with extreme weather conditions including cyclones (not uncommon in the area). But Strainstall stepped in to create a unique and cutting-edge system that can withstand the harsh weather conditions and monitor the load between the floating deck and the main cargo jetty piles during mooring operations to provide reassurance to operators.

The bespoke system, which is now up and running, uses advanced sensors to track movement while taking into account the fact that both the wharf and jetty rise and fall with the tide. It then feeds detailed data and analysis back to engineers reporting on the performance of the structure, and indicating if and when load thresholds are close to being exceeded.

The floating deck, now owned by Patrick Bulk Port Services, was specifically designed to support offshore operations in a significant oil and gas production region off the North Western coast of Australia.

"We had never designed and manufactured anything like this before,"

says Strainstall’s business development manager, Dr Phil Cutter.

"Load measurement is our core expertise but the components we used for this project had to be configured differently to accommodate the floating structure and a project of this scale really is something rather special."

The team faced an unexpected curve ball part-way through the project, when specifications were altered so the wharf could accommodate larger vessels.

"It was unexpected, but we were able to make amendments to our load cells/system to ensure the extra loads applied wouldn’t cause damage,"

says Phil.

Installation was not without its own challenges as Strainstall’s engineering team, supported by technicians from Fendercare and led by Strainstall project manager Paul Downes, was forced to battle with the intense heat, installing the load monitoring system at the height of summer in temperatures of up to 49°C in this arid region.

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