18-05-2021 water & maritime

Van Oord places second order with Demcon unmanned systems


Robust, compact and autonomous inspection platform

Van Oord carries out hydrographic inspections to accurately survey the bed profile for dredging and other maritime works. Due to space or environmental constraints, manned boats (sounding boats) cannot be deployed everywhere, for example in cofferdams, drinking water basins and nature conservation areas. Demcon unmanned systems – part of technology developer and producer Demcon – develops robust, unmanned and autonomously sailing inspection platforms for this purpose. These fully electrically driven vessels help make operations more sustainable and promote the digitalization of processes. Van Oord recently placed an order for a second platform with Demcon unmanned systems. “Our technology has proven itself in their first system and we are now in discussion about applications on a broader front.”

Small unmanned and autonomous vessels make it possible to perform activities remotely, cost efficiently, and in automated and digitalized ways. DUS develops unmanned autonomous sailing platforms with intelligent controls for this purpose. The company makes use of a standardized systems architecture and develops algorithms and software for autonomous operation and real-time onboard sensor fusion and data processing. “In part due to our navigation technology and our patented positioning system, the platform’s steering is very precise,” says Fedor Ester, managing director of Demcon unmanned systems. “The platform can be fully adjusted to match the user’s integration or systems requirements for use in divergent applications and environments.”

Improved manoeuvrability and more environmentally and nature friendly
This past year, Demcon unmanned systems built a new robust, electrically driven, unmanned inspection platform for Van Oord. This new platform is just 2.5 meters in length and is an alternative to the small manned sounding boats that are approx. 8 meters in length. With regard to data quality is the system also equal to existing equipment, the vessel was recently certified by the Dutch authority Rijkswaterstaat to obtain hydrographic survey data for their purposes. Ester: “Our DUS V2500 platform can be deployed on a broad front because it is small and light, has less draught and is equipped with autonomous navigation technologies. The system has full control over its movements in water, making it highly manoeuvrable, even at low speeds. The limited number of moving parts (no rudder, no rotating steering thrusters, etc.) means that the system is low-maintenance. The electric propulsion system operates without any fluids, is emission-free and low-noise. Together with the (Kiwa) drinking water certified hull coating, makes this an environmental friendly vessel that will have minimal impact on the flora and fauna above and below the water’s surface.”

Broader application
Last year, Demcon unmanned systems delivered the first vessel and Van Oord recently placed a second order. Ester: “Van Oord furthermore has a broader interest in the application of our platforms and autonomous navigation solutions; for example, to provide a captain with a better view around his ship. The second platform is not only intended for use on inland waters, but also for near-shore operations. This is why we slightly redesigned the hull to improve its stability in waves and included extra redundancy in the system architecture. In addition, the small automatic winch used to drop sensors below the water’s surface has been optimized for better and more accurate operation at greater depths.”

More efficient and safer
With the second platform, Demcon unmanned systems has further expanded the range of applications. Ester believes there are still many other opportunities. “The architecture of our vessels is modular, making it easy for us to build a larger or smaller version or implement a different application. We only need to scale the hull’s geometry and components, and integrate the application-specific sensors and software. We are discussing the possibility of deploying our systems in various other areas, such as the construction and management of offshore wind farms. The waves are higher here as a result of which the window for using manned vehicles is limited for reasons of safety. With our solution, a surveyor can safely remotely control the operation of his/her platform, as well as multiple platforms for that matter. Our unmanned vessels increase efficiency and safety.”

About Demcon
Demcon (750 employees) develops, produces and supplies technology and innovative products. The Demcon group has branches in Best, Delft, Enschede, Groningen (Netherlands), Maastricht, Münster (Germany), Tokyo (Japan) and Singapore. The company was created as a result of the passion of its founders for combining creativity and technical skills focused on solving complex issues. These issues are of a technological and social nature and generally have a direct or indirect impact on people and their everyday life. Whether this concerns medical systems, systems that monitor our security or sustainable solutions relating to themes such as water and energy, Demcon makes a contribution for current and future generations. In addition to developing technical solutions, Demcon also focuses its efforts on promoting entrepreneurship and investing in talent and education.

More information
For more information, please contact Marleen Markvoort, corporate communications specialist at Demcon via +31 (0)88 11 52 000.