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Mechanical engineering: a link between offshore disciplines

Mechanical engineering: a link between offshore disciplines

The work of a mechanical engineer at Iv-Offshore & Energy involves much more than ‘just’ designing mechanical equipment for offshore platforms. Tarik Kaplan, Mechanical Engineer at Iv-Offshore & Energy, explains: “In addition to designing mechanical equipment, I also collaborate with customers and suppliers, and I actually get to see something of the products we design. I have been working here for one and a half years now, and despite my work experience, I am given plenty of responsibility and trust with the work I perform. Iv-Offshore & Energy is not a company that presents the work to you on a silver platter. On the contrary, I am given the freedom to design the technical solution for the work packages for which I am responsible. Of course, I receive excellent guidance, but being given this responsibility and freedom really helps me to feel at home here.”

From internship to a permanent job

Tarik first joined Iv-Offshore & Energy in 2018 for his third-year internship. At that time, Iv-Offshore & Energy purchased the safety systems for projects from suppliers that also designed the systems. It was desirable to have this knowledge in-house so that Iv-Offshore & Energy could produce these designs themselves in the future. Tarik: “I researched what is involved and what exactly is needed to make these designs myself. I developed the design methodology during my third-year internship. Iv-Offshore & Energy now undertakes much more in-house design work for such systems. Because my internship went so well, I also wanted to complete my graduation assignment at Iv-Offshore & Energy. My graduation assignment was to optimise an existing design of an internal driver unit for a Crystalliser. I was informed about the final specifications the product was required to meet, and then it was up to me to figure out how the internal driver units could be optimised. During this process, I noticed that Iv-Offshore & Energy is open to receiving input and other ideas. My suggestions were taken seriously, and the lead mechanical engineer sometimes asked my view on a particular issue. I felt very proud when my input was applied in the project.”

Contributing to the largest offshore wind farms

We are now one and a half years later, and Tarik has contributed to the Sofia offshore HVDC transformer platform and is currently working as lead mechanical engineer on a large offshore wind tender. In 2020, Iv-Offshore & Energy signed the early works contract with Sembcorp Marine Offshore Platforms Pte Ltd (SMOP)to provide the engineering for the Sofia HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) offshore converter platform. The Sofia wind farm will be one of the largest offshore wind farms in the world and, when operational, will be capable of supplying 1.2 million British homes with their annual electricity needs. Following a successful early works  contract, Iv-Offshore & Energy signed the head contract with SMOP in 2021 to provide the engineering and procurement services for the Sofia offshore HVDC transformer platform. As a subcontractor of SMOP, Iv-Offshore & Energy is fully responsible for the detailed design of the topside and jacket, the engineering for the platform system integration and the purchase of all auxiliary equipment.

The topside of the Sofia HVDC platform (weighing 10,000 tonnes) will be roughly 80 metres in length, 40 metres wide and 40 metres high. It will be placed on an eight- legged jacket that will rest on the seabed at a depth of just under 30 metres below sea level (LAT). The jacket is then fixed into position with piles that are driven into the seabed. Tarik: “Sofia was the first ‘real’ project I worked on after graduating at Iv-Offshore & Energy. I was responsible for developing a number of mechanical equipment work packages, such as the internal cooling water system, cranes, safety systems and diesel generators. I made the designs for these and attended meetings with the customer and bid evaluation meetings with suppliers. I also visited the workshop of an equipment supplier in Germany with a colleague. When you collaborate with a supplier, it is desirable to ascertain beforehand what the equipment will look like and whether it meets the given requirements. It is also valuable to know how the equipment is delivered and what still needs to be done with the interfaces. Such a visit, whereby you can see which technology the factory uses and the equipment that has already been manufactured, provides clarity.”

A large offshore wind tender

Tarik has worked on the Sofia project for over a year and is now working as lead mechanical engineer on a large tender for an offshore wind platform. As lead mechanical engineer, Tarik is responsible for all mechanical equipment. But what does all this actually involve with such a large offshore wind tender? “The mechanical equipment is not yet worked out in detail in the tender phase,” says Tarik. “It is still very basic in this phase. We show the customer which equipment they can expect on the platform and how we will design it. For this, I compile equipment lists and ‘room lists’, indicating which equipment will be placed in which room and to which codes and standards the equipment complies. The expected size and capacity of the equipment and how to approach the equipment in the event of a defect or malfunction is also stated. In addition, a price indication is also provided for all equipment. Part of this price indication includes the costs of the equipment itself, so at this point, we have already approached the market to search for suitable suppliers. The indication also includes the working hours from A to Z: hours for engineering, supplier verification and performing tests, etc. Again, this is very multifaceted. We sometimes find that certain laws or regulations cannot be complied with or that the structure is too heavily engineered. We therefore always issue substantive advice in the event of such findings.”

A link between disciplines

The realisation of an offshore HVDC transformer platform is an extensive and complex process that involves many different (technical) disciplines. Tarik explains: “I have noticed that mechanical engineers function as a link between the various disciplines in a project. To produce good designs, you need to know something about all the other disciplines. In any case, you must have knowledge of the interfaces between the various disciplines, and this information must also be transferred to the disciplines involved. I love the complexity and diversity in my work, especially when it’s a project in which you are involved from start to finish and eventually get to see your design in practice. I hope I get to see the Sofia HVDC transformer platform in real life just one more time before it is installed at sea!”

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