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    Development and challenges for DP - IMCA airs its views

    News // May 24, 2010

    The rapidly maturing dynamic positioning (DP) technology, born of necessity as a result of the increasing demands of the rapidly expanding oil and gas exploration and production industry, comes under the conference spotlight when the European Dynamic Positioning Conference is held in London on 26-27 May.

    DP is now in use as standard equipment by an ever-broadening cross section of the marine community. As a supporter of the event, the International Marine Contractors Association will be taking an active role, fielding a speaker and exhibiting.
    The event is designed to address the key issues facing owners and operators of ships and rigs, ship and DP system designers, drilling contractors, class, consultants, equipment manufacturers and service providers in the development and operation of DP systems in the offshore oilfield and marine sectors.
    IMCA Technical Adviser Ian Giddings will be speaking on ‘The trade association perspective: developments and challenges for DP’, looking at ‘operating in challenging market conditions: the main issues today’; and also focusing on ‘the future: the main issues over the coming years’, in the opening conference session. This session aims to bring delegates up to date with headline issues occupying the minds of all the major stakeholders from the industry.
    “Over the years that DP has been available, we have seen many developments such as the introduction of innovative new position reference systems, power management systems and Hardware in the Loop (HiL) testing, to name but a few,” he explains. “More focus has also been placed on people issues such as the training, experience and certification of those involved in the marine side of the offshore industry, including the DP Operators, which is currently being addressed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in the revision of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Code.
    “As a result of all these new developments, information needs to be promulgated to the industry, and guidance developed - based upon technical input from manufacturers and others, and the shared experience of members.  In addition there is a need to keep existing guidance relevant and up to date to reflect developments and changed practices. In my presentation I will highlight these emerging areas where information, guidance and feedback may need to be made available to members, the marine offshore community and the wider maritime community, in particular for passenger ship, private yacht and wind farm installation and maintenance vessels where DP is becoming standard equipment. The paper will look at how this work is undertaken at IMCA, how the information is transmitted to the appropriate groups and the developments which may need addressing.”
    Another area that Ian Giddings will be considering in his presentation is the challenge of improving the voluntary DP incident reporting scheme operated by IMCA, making the reports more meaningful and useful and encouraging more participation in this scheme, for the benefit of all involved in the sector.
    “Taking a broad approach to the topic, I will be looking at the provision of information through events such as the IMCA safety seminar and the IMCA annual seminar, as well as the more specialist workshops such as our recent heave compensation workshop. Finally, I will attempt to look into the future at some of the developments which may be further over the horizon and some of the issues and challenges these will bring.”
    IMCA’s DP role

    IMCA maintains a database of incidents on DP vessels which extends back over more than 25 years. “We strongly encourage submission of reports by all DP vessel operating companies,” explains Ian Giddings. “Each year reports received are collated and an anonymised analysis of the incidents is published. Learning from other people’s experiences is vital in this rapidly developing sector.”
    Through this work, IMCA helps establish trends and common causes/potential hazards that can be addressed through IMCA work and discussion with vessel operators, equipment suppliers, training establishments and others. The results have helped keep the DP fleet operational, safe and acceptable to clients and regulators by feeding in to improvements in design, procedures and training. Reporting forms are available on the IMCA website at
    IMCA also publishes a variety of guidance documents, setting out industry good practice based on the cumulative experience of its members operating around the world to help them in ensuring safe and efficient operations. A key document in relation to DP is the Guidelines for the design and operation of dynamically positioned vessels (IMCA M 103), which is regularly reviewed and updated to reflect technological developments and operational achievements.
    IMCA also works closely with other organisations (notably holding observer status at IMO) where it can represent members, put forward their expertise and assist in ensuring national/international regulations and other industry documents appropriately reflect the industry, its technology and successful self-regulation where relevant.
    A range of documents also addresses design, equipment specification, trials programmesoperation, auditing and personnel training for DP vessels, helping set out a comprehensive approach that can be widely adopted and recognised by vessel operators and their clients, ensuring all relevant aspects are addressed and further enhancing efficiency for all parties.
    Technical reports are also published, aimed at helping vessel operators review, specify, maintain and use a variety of positioning systems, thrusters, power and vessel management systems and other equipment.
    Details of the range of documents relating to DP can be found at in the Marine Division section, and further information on IMCA and its work on behalf of members is at and from IMCA, 52 Grosvenor Gardens, London SW1W 0AU, UK. Tel: +44 (0)20 7824 5520; Fax: +44 (0)20 7824 5521.

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