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Sulzer Offers Complete Supply Service for Subsea ROV Manufacturer


Manufacturing a hydraulic power unit (HPU) that is destined to operate on the ocean floor in depths up to 2,500m 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 unburden the client of 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 should be carefully selected to produce a reliable, long-lasting unit. Furthermore, specialist equipment such as this is only built to order, and so a timely delivery is essential to ensure that the build schedule is maintained. Sulzer now provides 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 used in oil and gas exploration, as well as in maritime exploration and mining. The company has designed and built over 400 subsea vehicles, also 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 specialises 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.

Sulzer was initially contracted to assemble and test new components, but this service was soon expanded as Paul Richardson, Service Centre Manager at Sulzer’s Middlesbrough facility, explains: “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 places 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 seamlessly into the build programme. SMD in this way will use Sulzer as a one-stop shop, and will no longer need to spend time and money on chasing numerous suppliers.”

Sulzer’s Middlesbrough Service Centre, which recently moved to new purpose-built premises in 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. Paul Richardson concludes: “Currently we are equipped to manufacture all seven models of the standard hydraulic power units, which range in output from 11.5kW to 185kW. This new arrangement provides an assured delivery of components and allows SMD to concentrate on creating new solutions.”

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