MAROFF BIP: Next Generation Simulator for Marine Crane Design and Operation (2014-2016)

The project is supported by Innovation project in the business section-MAROFF

Project partners

  • Rolls-Royce Marine As
  • NTNU in Aalesund
  • Offshore Simulation Centre

Short project description

Maritime crane operation is always a challenging task which involves many problems such as load sway, positioning accuracy, suppression, collision avoidance, and manipulation security. Traditional maritime cranes, which are relatively big, heavy and stiff, rely on complex kinematic models of their system as well as an equally complex model of the environment with which they interact. However, the current crane designing process is still carried out in a traditional way, which lags behind the urgent, fast and dynamic requirements, which change frequently. When considering both working efficiency and operation safety, the on-going crane design is far from good.

With the development of technology, safer crane operations are promoted through engineering design and crew training on system and operational simulators. Efficient, flexible performance, operational safety, environmental issues and cost targets are urgent in the new crane design system. As a result, simulators are based on mathematical models of the real systems involved, and a major challenge is to be able to develop and configure realistic models within short time frames in each project for industry. Evaluating multiple design concepts can be done effectively using simulation tools, where trade-offs and many alternatives can be evaluated within a short time period.

The new marine cranes should be designed optimized with respect to operational performance rather than the performance of individual components and systems. Unfortunately, existing simulation tools for marine applications are mainly developed for research and optimization of components and sub-systems. The proposed project will address the development of a framework for overall system design, allowing flexible configuration of marine cranes and verification of operational performance as a part of the design process. Developing such a system could integrate engineering design, control theory and hydraulic performance in such a way as to allow the virtual prototyping environment to provide pre-testing, fault finding, error investigating, and operation verification functions. The results from the project will generate new opportunities for collaboration and allow for more efficient work processes, thus improving the technological level and productivity of the maritime industry.

Objectives

The primary goal of this research is to develop a virtual prototyping framework for overall crane system design, allowing for the configuration of cranes, including mechanical sub-system, control sub-system, hydraulic sub-system and verification of operational performance as a part of the design process. The developing simulation environment concept for design and training is shown in Figure. 1.

The development of simulator for marine design, operation and training

Figure 1. The development of simulator for marine design, operation and training

The integration of multi-physics simulations (systems and sub-systems), human behavior (control) and multiple parallel marine operations (integrated operations) as a simulation-based virtual crane prototype system will be the next following step in this development. This will be a significant scientific and operational achievement for the maritime industry.

Level of innovation

The new marine cranes should be designed optimised with respect to operational performance rather than the performance of individual components and systems. Unfortunately, existing simulation tools for marine applications are mainly developed for research and optimisation of components and sub-systems. The proposed project will address the development of a framework for overall system design, allowing flexible configuration of marine cranes and verification of operational performance as a part of the design process. This project has to combine expertise from complementary disciplines: robotics, artificial intelligence, computer science, and maritime industry according to the interdisciplinary nature of the project. All research results not only affect maritime application but are also expected to lead to fundamentally new software & control systems based on competent, multifunctional systems in the field of robotics and automation. Developing such a system could integrate engineering design, control theory and hydraulic performance in such a way as to allow the virtual prototyping environment to provide pre-testing, fault finding, error investigating, and operation verification functions. The results from the project will generate new opportunities for collaboration and allow for more efficient work processes, thus improving the technological level and productivity of the maritime industry. Anticipated effects and key issues of the project results:

  • Enable the industry to implement simulation-based product design, enable more efficient communication between the customer, designer and product developer throughout the design process.
  • Bridge building between industry and research, and between various disciplines and academic environments and acquiring new know-how by employing MSc and Ph.D. candidates with experience in simulation-oriented work-flow and virtual prototyping.

Potential for value creation

The Møre regional maritime cluster on the west coast of Norway is focused on marine offshore operations. The industry with more than 200 companies and 20,000 employees has a complete value chain of expertise and activities, including design, building, equipping and operation of advanced offshore vessels and devices. Leading know-how on systems and operational modelling/simulation is of vital strategic importance for this industrial cluster in order to further strengthen their global competitiveness. Development of high performance maritime cranes for safe deck operations and advanced marine operations is the strategic core at Rolls-Royce Marine AS. The turnover for the deck machinery unit is more than 2 billion NOK and the crane segment is expected to grow. Advanced control and usability allowing for efficient and safe operations is the key differentiator. For the maritime industry, sales will be increased due to an increased quality of maritime equipment and vessels.

Aalesund University College and the Offshore Simulation Centre will benefit from a wellestablished research environment that produces publications and generates publicity around the college. This will lead to an increase in students and publications, contributing positively to national and international university rankings.

R&D challenges

What makes this project proposal special is:

  • Interdisciplinary character.
  • The development of a new standard crane prototyping methodology that allows for integrating design and operation as a whole for Rolls-Royce Maritime AS, thereby improving technology.
  • If successful, the results of increasing maritime flexibility, working efficiency and safety in crane operations will be a significant resource.
  • Then the results could be directly transferred to other marine machinery systems.

As mentioned above, a variety of general-purpose software and frameworks for other system simulations exist. However, there are no mutually adopted simulation frameworks that support total crane systems integration including mechanical, hydraulic and control parts, and analysis of operational performance, as shown in Figure 2.

Integration of new simulation environment

Figure 2. Integration of new simulation environment

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