Jan De Nul Group has ordered a high-end crane simulator for its new offshore installation vessels Voltaire and Les Alizés, soon to be delivered. The simulator will be based on real physics and the actual vessel models, to train crew and realistically simulate complex offshore installations in the most severe conditions in a safe environment.

The partner for the development of this simulator is the Norwegian company OSC AS (previously known as Offshore Simulator Centre).

This autumn, Jan De Nul welcomes two new next-generation offshore installation vessels: the jack-up installation vessel Voltaire and the heavy-lift vessel Les Alizés. Thanks to their size and unrivalled lifting capacity, both vessels will be able to install future wind turbines at sea. Current offshore wind turbines go up to 15 MW. What comes next – and very soon, because the industry is evolving at a rapid pace – are turbines up to 20 MW. According to Jan De Nul no other vessel on the market today can handle these giants.

Also read: Dredging and offshore contractor Jan De Nul suffers net loss over 2021

Training with giant cranes

The jack-up Voltaire will be equipped with a 3000-tonne Huisman Leg Encircling Crane (LEC), Les Alizés with a 5000-tonne Tub Mounted Crane (TMC), also from Huisman. In order to train future operators, deck crew, superintendents and bridge crew to work with these giant cranes in a safe and realistic environment, Jan De Nul ordered the simulator.

‘This crane simulator will not only be producing extraordinary graphics and close-to-reality sensations like any random video game,’ says Tom Maes, manager Electrical and Automation Department at Jan De Nul Group. ‘The simulator will be based on real physics and the actual vessel models, offering a digital twin of both vessels and tools. In other words, a priceless engineering tool, fully at the service of our clients to advise them in their plans for the future.’

Mathieu Edet, head of Projects at OSC, adds: ‘With our expertise in digital twins and real-time simulation of demanding offshore operations, we aim to deliver first-rate engineering and training tools for marine operations. The commissioning of a high-end simulator for Voltaire and Les Alizés is a project that is in accordance with our philosophy: delivering cutting edge and multipurpose simulation solutions for engineering teams and mission crew readiness.’

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Digital twin

The simulator will offer the chance to train the specific skills and techniques required to operate the cranes, in a safe but realistic environment. It will allow them to prepare for different work situations, such as working in extreme weather conditions, with heavy loads and strict installation tolerances. Various mission equipment, such as the motion-compensated pile gripper, including the communication and interactions between the different persons involved in lifting procedures, will also be a key aspect of the training package.

On the other hand, this simulator will be a priceless tool for Jan De Nul to use during engineering and initial feasibility studies for projects and tenders. Thanks to the next generation advanced dynamic and hydrodynamic models incorporated in the software, this training device will be a digital full-scale replica (digital twin) of the real set-up on board, including a fully digital environment where future or existing project scenarios can be uploaded, tested and rehearsed well in advance and in a completely safe environment.

Maes: ‘Together with all stakeholders involved, we can demonstrate our expertise and workmanship weeks or months in advance, making sure that when we arrive on site, it is not the first time we execute the operations. A third party verification will provide sufficient guarantee of the accuracy of the digital twin considered and support the industry moving forward.’

Also read: VIDEO: Jan De Nul launches jack-up giant Voltaire

New simulator centre

This full-scale simulator will be installed in the new dedicated simulator centre in Jan De Nul’s new office building in Belgium. The set-up includes a crane operator dome, a vessel operator station, a (de)briefing room and an instructor station.

The crane operator cabin with the real-life Huisman operator chair including the dedicated control system will be installed in a 7-metre-high dome.

The vessel operator station will have a real-life bridge desk where systems such as the Dynamic Positioning (DP) system, ballast and heeling system and jacking system can be controlled.

Picture: 3D-render of the crane set-up.