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Unlock time and cost efficiencies with remote survey services

Communications technology

Efficient use of internet bandwidth and resilient secure communications are key enablers of successful delivery of any type of remote service. Acteon has developed a communications hub (comms hub) to provide the connectivity required which is delivered by UTEC, a Geo-services brand in Acteon’s Data and Robotics division.

The comms hub is a unique solution that links the two endpoints with a sophisticated protocol meaning that it comprehensively combines features like network acceleration, bonding, network resilience and sophisticated security. It has been designed as one standard piece of hardware which has the flexibility to deliver any or all the three main areas of remote survey services listed above.

Every comms hub that is mobilised can facilitate video streaming, even if it was intended for a remote processing project where streaming was not anticipated. This is just one example of how the comms hub has significant logistical advantages in that when things change suddenly, as is often the case with offshore operations, Acteon can react and support customers with a flexible solution.

The comms hub provides:

  • Network resilience: Full utilisation of all bandwidths with no packet loss or WAN delays.
  • Sophisticated security: The comms hub uses pre-shared key (PSK) authentication. PSK information is combined with dynamically generated information at call setup and this combination acts as a seed for the encryption algorithms, resulting in encryption being unique to every connection made by the comms hub.
  • Network bonding: Use of bandwidth from multiple internet connections at the same time through network bonding.
  • Automatic file transfer: During survey data acquisition, software running on the comms hub detects new files and transfers them to an onshore data centre.
  • Optimised H.265 video streaming: The maximum achievable bit rate can be automatically selected based on available bandwidth.

Remote data processing

Traditionally data processing is delivered on board survey and construction support vessels meaning the data processor personnel are required to travel to and stay on board the vessel. On a typical construction support project such as pipelay (either rigid or flexible) the overall project duration can be many weeks. The data processors may only be required for short periods of time at the beginning of the project for the pre-lay survey and at the end for the as-laid and as-built surveys. This results in significant underutilisation of the data processors while their time is being paid for.

Remote data processing means that Acteon’s customers only need to pay for data processors when they are required, leading to immediate and large cost savings on personnel day rates.

Having a team of remote data processors working together in an onshore data processing centre has the advantage of allowing them to work in an optimised and familiar environment where skills and experience are easily shared. Acteon’s remote data processors achieve efficiencies by continuously moving from project to project with no periods of downtime when they work onboard ships. This helps to streamline the data processing workflow, allowing more use of automation and consequently an improvement in the quality and consistency of the deliverables produced.

To enable remote data processing, the comms hub is used for automatic file transfer of all survey data, digital video and metadata required to process the data onshore. Rigorous data QC and coverage checks are made at the offshore site to ensure data arrives onshore for the data processors to access in near to real-time.

Remote operations and monitoring at your fingertips

The comms hub is used to provide the communications and functionality required for remote operations using both EIVA NaviPac and 4DNAV NavView online navigation software. It facilitates the remote control of the online navigation software, streaming of ROV video, and connection to the vessel Clear-Com system for audio communications as well as control of any other third-party software required via a web interface or remote desktop access.

Example of 4DNAV NavView remote operations at UTEC Houston ROC

Streaming services

Every comms hub deployed in the field can facilitate live video streaming. A pool of streaming licenses can be transferred between vessels meaning the facility to stream one or more video channels is always present but only needs to be paid for when required.

The comms hub can connect to four analogue video feeds with automatic detection of PAL or NTSC. IP video can also be streamed directly with no physical limit on the number of channels.

Quad view streaming

One streaming license is required per channel of video streamed. Normally customers choose to use one license to stream a quad view showing the four channels connected to the comms hub. In this way, a specific camera of interest for a given operation can be selected for full screen streaming whenever desired while only using one license. This also minimises bandwidth consumption.

Paving the way for more innovative survey solutions

By pioneering a more intelligent approach to survey and replacing traditional monitoring techniques with remote services, Acteon is bringing ashore and automating lengthy tasks such as processing and reporting of data, to achieve significant time and cost savings on projects, whilst reducing HSE risk and carbon emissions associated with offshore mobilisations.

Utilising remote technology can reduce personnel on board (POB) by up to 30% by onshoring tasks to reduce travel and aviation costs whilst retaining access to highly skilled people when required.

Remote technologies are critical to supporting energy operators in today’s digital era and establishing a more affordable, reliable, accessible, and sustainable infrastructure. Acteon is continuing to invest in its remote capabilities to support operators, particularly in the offshore wind sector, focusing on Balance of Plant (BoP) inspection and survey work for critical infrastructures such as inter-array cables, export cables, and monopile scour surveys. Combining the expertise and equipment from across the Data and Robotics division allows Acteon and its brands to deliver unique cost-effective solutions and flexible integrity management services while reducing the carbon footprint of our activities.

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