When your job is offshore monitoring and inspection of critical infrastructure facilities and potentially hazardous environments, communications quality is high on the priority list. A prominent service provider for the collection and interpretation of data relating to the earth’s surface and sub-surface, Fugro manages a global network of remote operations centres (ROCs) providing autonomous survey, inspection, remote vehicle piloting, data processing and satellite positioning services to the maritime industry.
To streamline and enhance communications among its teams and these clients, Fugro is rolling out a combination of Clear-Com IP and wireless intercom technologies including the Eclipse HX Digital Matrix Delta Frame equipped with E-IPA Interface Cards, LQ Series of IP Interfaces and the Agent-IC Mobile App.
The first Fugro site to receive this enhanced communications network is the company’s facility in Aberdeen, UK. This new centre opened its doors in late 2019 and has provided the perfect test bed for wider implementation across the organisation.
“On any given day, we could be helping clients transition their operations and personnel from offshore to onshore, evaluating the efficiency of an asset or checking for anything out of the ordinary: damage, debris, oil or gas leaks,” said Hugh Fraser, remote operations centre pilot for Fugro. “Performing inspection and monitoring here at the centre or using autonomous vehicles eliminates the time and logistics associated with sending people offshore, in addition to reducing carbon footprint.”
Clients often sit in the ROC alongside Fraser and the Fugro team, accessing offshore data and collaborating with on-site personnel from the centre. At other times, the ROC works with entire teams on a platform or vessel. Either way, the Clear-Com systems provide an easily configurable, reliable and high-quality line of communications, giving ROC teams safe access to offshore operations.
“They give us simplicity and quality,” noted Fraser. “Everything is IP to IP, which is efficient, plus there is built-in compatibility with older systems. That’s often been challenging for us since some client vessels, for example, don’t update their equipment very often.”
The Fugro team had barely unpacked its new Clear-Com systems in early 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, leading them to explore new applications for intercoms. Remote and autonomous capabilities had already been increasing in use throughout the maritime industry in recent years as a way of reducing human exposure to hazardous offshore environments and lowering overall greenhouse gas emissions. Over the past months, the Fugro team has often supported clients who can’t go offshore due to Covid-19 restrictions, but still need to communicate remotely with personnel situated on multiple vessels.
For Fugro, using a combination of an all-IP Eclipse matrix system to control communications through the Agent-IC mobile app and link to LQ interface systems used offshore proved to be a seamless solution for keeping everyone in contact, enabling traditionally “on-site” roles to be performed from anywhere.