As one of the early pioneers of Walk to Work (W2W), Ampelmann builds and designs gangways that provide easy, safe and efficient access to offshore structures. It’s motion compensated systems create safe working environments for personnel and increase workability by being able to withstand rough sea states. In the last fifteen years, the company has provided access to over 7.6 million workers and 18.6 million kg of cargo. With over 70 systems currently operating globally, Ampelmann has become a familiar face of the offshore access world.
Since its beginnings in 2007, the company has been deeply invested in the construction, commissioning, and maintenance of wind turbines. Alongside its successes in O&G, the company’s growing involvement in the global renewable energy sector has been especially pronounced. In the first half of 2022 alone, Ampelmann completed contracts for renewable energy projects in Taiwan, the North Sea and was recently awarded its first contract for the hook-up and commissioning of turbines on three of the first commercial scale windfarms in the USA.
With ample opportunities for growth globally, Ampelmann has become firmly embedded in the rapidly maturing renewable energy sector.
Offshore wind is one of the fastest growing industries. The increasing desire to reduce environmental footprints as well as dependency on hydrocarbons will, in the short- and long-term, lead to a growing number of construction projects, maintenance and repair scopes throughout the world. In the North Sea, in particular, European (REpowerEU) and UK governments have pledged to greatly expand the number of wind farms and to quadruple available wind power to respectively 65GW and 50GW by the end of 2030. This means that in the North Sea alone, an additional 4000 to 5000 turbines will have to be built in the next five years.
This development is not without its challenges. According to Caspar Blum, Ampelmann’s Area Manager for Business Development for Europe and Africa, “Sustaining this growth will require clever solutions and as a company with a pure focus on offshore access solutions we have the know-how and infrastructure to help overcome some of these challenges by increasing the efficiency of offshore operations.”
“At Ampelmann,” Blum continues, “we are constantly innovating and adapting our core business to the changing needs of the offshore energy sector. We collect and combine data from ourselves and our suppliers to measure our CO2 emissions and further develop our systems. In the short term we are working on improving the efficacy of our products and services by creating ever stronger product-service alignments, reducing carbon footprints and creating a solid foundation to stay ahead of the impending energy transition.”
Ampelmann has recently released its sustainability agenda and has announced sweeping changes that includes offsetting all carbon emissions onshore and offshore, the electrification of the entire fleet, as well as the introduction of modularity into its technical designs.
The latest iteration of the A-type, Ampelmann’s flagship system, has already been fully electrified, tested and has recently been commercially deployed at sea. “This is a massive undertaking that requires very precise engineering,” says Blum.
"By implementing a regenerative electric system, the hydraulic pressure on the hexapod can be reused, reducing the total energy consumption by 90 percent.” As Jan van de Tempel, CEO of Ampelmann, put it, this means that the total energy input will require no more electricity than five simple coffee machines.
“Alongside the electrification of our systems,” Blum continues, “we are building modular systems that are tailor made to individual vessels. Essentially all our systems will be built from the same blocks. Not only will this streamline the (re)design of newer and older systems it will make it even easier to customise them to the specific needs of our customers and it simplifies the process of replacing components thereby reducing overall downtimes, logistic and transport costs. Above all, the introduction of modularity makes our systems more durable in the long-term and gives us greater control over our value chains by optimising our relationship with suppliers and clients alike.”
One example of an electric and modular system is the recently commissioned W-type that was specifically designed to be permanently fixed on CSOV’s and SOV’s. This electric system has a height adjustable gangway that is ideally suited to reach the variable and sometimes dizzying heights of modern wind turbines. As it can transfer both personnel and cargo up to 2000kg in sea states up to 3.5m Hs the system greatly increases the efficiency and safety of construction, commissioning, and maintenance of wind turbines. Since its official release earlier this year, three such systems have been sold.
Ampelmann has become known for its rental model but is increasingly selling systems as well. “Because we have predominantly rented out our systems,” says Blum “we have developed robust product-service alignments and have become well-known for the services we offer alongside our product. This includes specially trained operators, workability forecasts, redundancy packages and our Operations Control Centre (OCC) provides a 24/7 support hotline. In this way we can ensure each gangway always performs at peak efficiency, whenever, and wherever they may be. As a rental company we have learnt the value of this service-approach to our products, and we will continue to offer this service model to our clients who buy our systems.”
By innovating and adapting its business model according to local and global developments Ampelmann plans to stay ahead of the curve and facilitate the ever-growing demand for offshore access. “These are exciting times for the renewable energy sector.” says Blum. “The coming years will see the introduction of further automation and digitalisation of our products and services to further align them with a growing need for efficiency. We have a very clear focus to increase our margins in the wind business and by diversifying our portfolio and offering safe and energy efficient access solutions we are building the pillars to support the ambitious targets set by European governments and sustain the imminent growth of offshore wind energy.”
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