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Offshore cranes take centre stage at IMCA's Lifting & Rigging seminar

Mon 08 Oct 2018 by Ed Martin

Offshore cranes take centre stage at IMCA's Lifting & Rigging seminar
Mark Ford (IMCA): Competence and training of crane operators proved to be one of the top challenges

This year's Lifting & Rigging seminar marked the beginning of a four-year series focusing on cranes, writes IMCA technical manager Mark Ford

‘Return to Offshore Cranes’ was the focus of IMCA’s Lifting & Rigging seminar this year, which took place in Amsterdam in September.

The seminar looked at offshore cranes as key enablers, focussing on technology advances in operating modes, control systems, maintenance and assurance, training and simulators, remote operation, skilled personnel requirements and fibre rope integration.

Chaired by TechnipFMC’s David Cannell this year, IMCA’s Lifting & Rigging seminar has become a popular annual event, attended by crane manufacturers, offshore crane users and representatives from training and academic development institutes.

This year’s seminar marked a shift from the ropes and rigging issues discussed at past seminars, to examine the cranes and systems used in offshore lifting operations.

“This year’s seminar marked a shift from the ropes and rigging issues discussed at past seminars, to examine the cranes and systems used in offshore lifting operations"

With input from nearly 20 speakers from across the industry, the seminar considered developments and operational requirements of offshore cranes. Under five session headings it highlighted key issues, concerns and future requirements: Introductions & IMCA Guidance; Operators’ Experience; Total Technology – a quick fire session; Supplier Session; and Training and Academia.

An introductory ice-breaking ‘Post-it note challenge’ saw delegates list their expectations for the day, and what they considered the top three challenges for modern, offshore cranes. The competence and training of crane operators proved to be a big concern, due to the complexity of modern crane systems and their operation.

Three workshops looked at ‘Current issues and challenges’, ‘Offshore lifting requirements’, and ‘Training and future forums’. In the first, discussion focused on control systems and operational modes; inspection, repair and maintenance; personal; and operational capacity and limits - and the role of alarm settings during lifting.

The second workshop covered future requirements for offshore lifting, looking at the range of tasks and crane types; capacity; capability (including operational modes); operator skills and control interfaces; and health monitoring systems among others.

In the final workshop, attendees considered the adequacy of training and asked “What can IMCA do to help?”. The answer to that question will help determine IMCA’s future work programme, with control systems and operational modes noted for further discussion by IMCA’s Lifting & Rigging Committee.

Mr Cannell’s closing remarks summed up the day’s discussion and he raised many issues that the sector needs to consider:

  • Without the crane we cannot do our job
  • In terms of cranes – what works for one vessel does not necessarily work for another
  • Impossible to create a load chart for all lifts
  • Visualise your offshore operation – onshore
  • It is easy to know what a good simulator is ... you forget you are in one
  • Simulation is a connection element between asset management and project management
  • Getting some lessons before doing the lift is a great advantage
  • A certificate does not mean competent
  • Trainers must be experienced in the crane in question
  • Sharing experience is key

The seminar was also an opportunity to remind delegates about the importance of IMCA’s safety flashes (a crane-related finger injury was cited, caused by a falling wire wedge) and the Association’s lifting and rigging guidance; the ‘Guidelines for lifting operations’ (LR006) – IMCA’s most downloaded guidance document in 2018.

Other such documents include: Guidance on Wire Rope Integrity management; Guidance on non-destructive examination (NDE) by means of magnetic rope testing; Guidelines for lifting operations; Guidance on the manufacture and safe use of cable-laid slings and grommets; and Guidance on the selection, safe use and inspection of high-performance fibre slings.

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