Manufacturing a hydraulic power unit (HPU) that is destined to operate on the ocean floor up to depths of 2,500 meters requires considerable expertise and design excellence in order to deliver reliable and sustained performance. Having provided the build and test service for some time, Sulzer has now taken on the procurement phase of the process to release the client from this time intensive task.
The design and construction of remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) is a specialist field and the components used to create the HPUs need to be carefully selected in order to produce a reliable, long-lasting unit. Furthermore, specialist equipment such as this is only built to order so a timely delivery is essential to ensure that the build schedule is maintained. Sulzer is now providing a complete service that delivers a fully guaranteed HPU to the world’s leading independent designer and manufacturer of work class ROVs.
Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD), based in Wallsend, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne is a designer and manufacturer of work class and specialist subsea remotely operated vehicles that are used in oil and gas exploration as well as maritime exploration and mining. The company has designed and built more than 400 subsea vehicles as well as delivering the control systems, umbilical systems and launch and recovery systems (LARS).
The ROVs require hydraulic power to drive a number of on-board systems, depending on the configuration and prime purpose of the vehicle. SMD specializes in subsea equipment that can be fitted with a range of tools that rely on the hydraulic power generated by the HPU assembled and tested by Sulzer.
Initially, Sulzer was contracted to assemble and test new components, but this service was soon expanded as Paul Richardson, Service Centre Manager at Sulzer’s Middlesbrough facility, explained, “A few years ago we would have been sent a kit of parts that had been sourced by SMD and it was our responsibility to assemble the unit and carry out the performance and quality tests. Our working relationship has developed to such a point that we have now been handed the responsibility of the procurement phase as well.
“This new arrangement means that SMD simply place an order with Sulzer and we build the new unit according to SMD specifications. The new and fully guaranteed unit will be delivered on the agreed date, which fits neatly with the build program. In this way SMD will use Sulzer as a one-stop shop, no longer needing to spend time and money chasing the numerous suppliers.”
Sulzer’s Middlesbrough Service Center, which recently moved to new purpose-built premises on Middlehaven, has a dedicated work area for this operation, which ensures high quality components are correctly assembled and tested. This is supported by a team that provides the necessary logistical and engineering support to ensure all the required performance criteria and quality standards are met.
Richardson said, “Currently we are equipped to manufacture all seven models of the standard hydraulic power units, which range in output from 11.5 kW to 185 kW. This new arrangement provides an assured delivery of components and allows SMD to concentrate on creating new solutions.”