A new crane control and estimation laboratory


Figure 1. A new crane laboratory at NTNU, Trondheim.

The construction of the new crane laboratory at NTNU, Trondheim has been finalized. The laboratory features a down-scaled version of a knuckle boom crane, which will be used for testing and developing control and estimation algorithms for offshore operations. The PhD candidate Andrej Cibicik (NTNU), who is responsible for the design and assembly of the laboratory, thinks that the research results will provide significant value for the industry.

– The lab itself was built from scratch, so I had a lot of flexibility to make it as versatile as possible. I decided from the start that we should have industrial control hardware in the loop, so that our implementation schemes can be easily transferred to industrial applications. I think that our group at NTNU has achieved a very good theoretical level in the areas of modeling, control and estimation. The next step is to demonstrate to the industry partners how the equations work in practice.

Today, the safety and feasibility of offshore crane operations depends very much on the skills and experience of the crane operator. With this new laboratory we can test and benchmark different automated control approaches for performing safe crane operations in demanding conditions. Andrej Cibicik is collaborating with his colleagues Aksel Sveier (NTNU), Alexander Meyer Sjøberg (NTNU) and Geir Ole Tysse (NTNU). Professor Olav Egeland (NTNU) is the leader for the working packages WP2 and WP4, he is positive about the collaboration between the PhD candidates.


Figure 2. PhD researchers: (from left to right) Alexander Meyer Sjøberg, Geir Ole Tysse, Aksel Sveier and Andrej Cibicik.

Andrej Cibicik adds:

– We want to study possibilities of damping the sway of the payload at the specific position, as well as possibilities of following trajectories while minimizing the sway of the payload. My own research is mainly focused on modeling and control, but the controller is dependent on measured or estimated systems states. Some of the states are very difficult or even impossible to measure, here a reliable estimation procedure comes into play. Luckily, I have several colleagues working with advanced estimation and filtering.

Aksel Sveier is working on implementation of 3D vision sensors and sensor fusion for offshore applications. He thinks there is a large potential for the technology in the industry.

– My research is focused on estimating and tracking position and orientation of dynamic objects and systems using mainly 3D vision sensor technology. The 3D camera enables us to track virtually any object (or several objects) even in poor lighting conditions. We have already conducted several experiments in the lab where we have tracked the crane load using a 3D camera. Potentially, we can also track other equipment and personnel on the drill floor thanks to the flexibility of this 3D vision system. In addition, the estimation and filtering techniques I use enable sensor fusion with other sensors, such as 2D cameras and IMUs, so we can achieve the robustness that is required in an offshore operation.

Alexander Meyer Sjøberg and Geir Ole Tysse are looking at the alternative solutions for tracking of the crane payload.

– We are looking at the application of 2D vision sensors for object tracking in the context of motion compensation. The 2D cameras are known to be very precise sensors under favourable conditions, however the implementation is challenging for real-life cases. We want to investigate the robustness of the technology on its own and in combination with other sensors. The price of the 2D sensors is relatively low and they can easily be mounted on the crane boom or any suited location on the ship to track the motion of the payload, or the other vessel.

Center leader Geir Hovland welcomes the new lab facility at NTNU. The work done on sensors, sensor fusion, algorithms and the scaled-down knuckle boom crane is highly relevant for the research centre SFI Offshore Mechatronics and it’s industry partners.

Cooperation Gives a Gain

Sondre Sanden Tørdal and Philipp Schubert are among the PhD candidates who use the motion-laboratory at UiA in their research work and when working on problems relevant for industry.

By Siri Andresen

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For two weeks the PhD candidates Sondre Sanden Tørdal (UiA) and Philipp Schubert (RWTH Achen) have worked intensively in UiAs Motion Lab at Campus Grimstad, before Schubert returned to Achen. The solution the PhD candidates are developing can very likely become integrated in a future product for one or more of the partner companies in the research centre SFI Offshore Mechatronics.

Benefits at several levels
The centre for research-driven innovation, SFI Offshore Mechatronics, works on developing tools and methods which are relevant for industry. The centre leader Geir Hovland sees a large value in this type of cooperation.

– It results in benefits at several levels. The PhD candidates get to exchange ideas and experiences, UiA gets a joint publication with RWTH Achen, and the industry gets to see the potensial in a potential new product, says Hovland.

The aim with the study is to dampen out oscillations in a swinging load in a crane because this can increase the so-called weather window when transfering loads between two vessels in offshore operations. Swinging loads is one of several problems which need to be researched to meet a future with increased leves of autonomous offshore operations. Solutions for damping out oscillations in loads can, in addition to increasing the weather window, also increase safety and efficiency. Sondre Tørdal, who also holds a 20% position in the SFI partner company MacGregor in parallel with his PhD studies, hopes to see the developed solution in a future product one day.

– The research which is done here has a direct transfer value for the industry. They can potentially make use of the research and develop products where the developed technology could be incorporated, he says.

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Tørdal and Schubert are both PhD candidates through the SFI. The plan, as a first step, a joint publication based on this work – and see possibilities for future collaboration afterwards. Geir Hovland would like to see more of this type of collaboration, both with international and Norwegian partners.

World-Class Equipment

The Motion Laboratory at UiA is unique in the academic world, and consists of among other equipment two Stewart platforms which are used to simulate ship motions. I additions to these machines, we have an industrial robot with an open controller and advanced measurement equipment based on laser and camera technologies. The robot is currently used to simulate a crane mounted on a vessel. The laboratory was opened at the end of 2013 with the goal of increased collaboration between UiA and industry. Phillipp Schubert has visited UiAs Motion Lab before and has looked forward to working here.

PhD candidate Philipp Schubert (RWTH Achen)

– What is cool with this system is that “real” data is used, not only data from a simulation, and I think the companies see this as more “authentic”. Here you have a truly unique test facility which can give you more realistic parameters for your study compared to simulations only. The experiments and measurements we do are perhaps the closest we could do compared to an actual implementation on two vessels.

Sondre Tørdal agrees;

– If you want to the motion compensation experiments this is the place to do it. We have a unique test facility and we are working on realistic constraints. In a simulation a mathematical model is used to simulate the problem. This model is then used to develop potential solutions to the problem. In other words, the solution will often match well with what has been simulated, but you will normally not be able to include all realistic parameters in your model compared to data from the test facility. And the missing of some realistic parameters may affect the results in your study.

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Internationalisation through the PhD candidates

Strengthening of our international networks is a significant priority in UiAs strategy for 2016-2020, and increased mobility of our PhD candidates is one of the concrete measures which we encourage. RWTH Aachen participates in SFI Offshore Mechatronics with two institutes. Philipp Schubert is satisfied with the research stay in Grimstad and encourages others to do the same.

Working Meeting WP4.3, NTNU Aalesund

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From left to right: Houxiang Zhang, Geir Hovland and Lars Ivar Hatledal in one of the simulator domes.

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From left to right: Geir Hovland, Lars Ivar Hatledal and Houxiang Zhang in the open 3D simulator area available for teaching and research in the Mechatronics group at NTNU Aalesund.

On October 16, 2017 a working meeting in WP4.3 Protocols and standards for integration of simulation models and co-simulation was held at NTNU Aalesund. Lars Ivar Hatledal is the PhD candidate working in this work-package, Professor Houxiang Zhang is the principal supervisor while Arne Styve (not in the photos) and Geir Hovland are the co-supervisors.

The agenda for the day was as follows:

09:00 – 11:30 Visit to the very impressive infrastructure and collection of 3D simulators available at NTNU Aalesund and their partner Offshore Simulator Centre (OSC). The simulators are used both in teaching, research and external projects with industry partners.

12:15 – 14:30 Presentation by Lars Ivar Hatledal and following discussions about the plans and project focus.

WP4.3 is the first common research activity between the two Mechatronics groups at NTNU Aalesund and University of Agder, and is hopefully the beginning of a long-term collaboration.

Pilot testing at MHWirth

WP3 pilot test

Picture by Geir Hovland

From left to right: Knut Berg Kaldestad, Joacim Dybedal, Atle Aalerud and Erind Ujkani

This autumn staff from UiA have visited engineers at MHWirth to plan an outdoor test of 3D sensors developed in the project.

The test will take place during spring 2018, in the MHWirth testing tower (Kristiansand). One of the goals in the Offshore Mechatronics project is to take the research out in real life. The results will be presented at the Annual Conference May 2018.

MIL, Teknova invest in rope-testing machine

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MIL and Teknova invest in a rope-testing machine to better understand how to predict remaining life of steel and fiber ropes.

“The machine lets us reproduce specific failure mode of a rope. By constantly running the rope over a sheave in a controlled environment, we are able to observe how the rope deteriorates and analyze sensor information to learn which data is important for understanding the road to failure. As a result, we will be able to predict, with greater precision, the remaining life of a rope,” says Thomas Meyer, Business Development Manager at Teknova.

The research institute Teknova, based in Grimstad and Kristiansand, is the leader of Work Package 5: Condition Monitoring Technologies in the Center for Offshore Mechatronics – an eight year long research program funded by the Research Council of Norway and hosted by the University of Agder.

WP5 aims to improve offshore maintenance operations by developing technologies and methods that enable condition-based maintenance strategies. Two of the five subtasks studies large diameter steel and fiber ropes, typical for the offshore industry.

“Our goal is to develop diagnostic and prediction algorithms that will replace human judgment by online monitoring technologies calling for maintenance weeks before failure occurs,” says Meyer.

The rope-testing machine is part of the first key equipment to be installed in the Mechatronics Innovation Lab (MIL), which open in Grimstad August 16, 2017.

“The machine will make MIL an interesting venue for producers of ropes and cranes. Heave-compensated cranes rely on a number of ropes that are constantly run back and forth over a sheave. A better understanding of how ropes perform over time, is of great interest and value,” says Meyer.

With a pull force of 30 tons, the 12 meters long machine manufactured in France, is designed to test ropes with a maximum diameter of 3 centimeters. Since most offshore ropes are thicker, Teknova has already applied for funding for a bigger machine, which would be able to test ropes with diameters up to 12 centimeters.

“Such a machine would be the largest in the world. It would instantly propel MIL to be an international test laboratory for offshore rope testing,” says Meyer.

FACTS:
Bending fatigue test stand
Length: 12 meters
Height: 2.2 meters
Width: 1.3 meters
Weight: 7 tons
Line pull: 30 tons
Producer: DEP Engineering (France)

MIL and Teknova invest in a rope-testing machine

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MIL and Teknova invests in a rope-testing machine to better understand how to predict remaining life of steel and fiber ropes.

“The machine lets us reproduce specific failure mode of a rope. By constantly running the rope over a sheave in a controlled environment, we are able to observe how the rope deteriorates and analyze sensor information to learn which data is important for understanding the road to failure. As a result, we will be able to predict, with greater precision, the remaining life of a rope,” says Thomas Meyer, Business Development Manager at Teknova.

The research institute Teknova, based in Grimstad and Kristiansand, is the leader of Work Package 5: Condition Monitoring Technologies in the Center for Offshore Mechatronics – an eight year long research program funded by the Research Council of Norway and hosted by the University of Agder.

WP5 aims to improve offshore maintenance operations by developing technologies and methods that enable condition-based maintenance strategies. Two of the five subtasks studies large diameter steel and fiber ropes, typical for the offshore industry.

“Our goal is to develop diagnostic and prediction algorithms that will replace human judgment by online monitoring technologies calling for maintenance weeks before failure occurs,” says Meyer.

The rope-testing machine is part of the first key equipment to be installed in the Mechatronics Innovation Lab (MIL), which is scheduled to open in Grimstad August 16, 2017.

“The machine will make MIL an interesting venue for producers of ropes and cranes. Heave-compensated cranes rely on a number of ropes that are constantly run back and forth over a sheave. A better understanding of how ropes perform over time, is of great interest and value,” says Meyer.

With a pull force of 30 tons, the 12 meters long machine manufactured in France, is designed to test ropes with a maximum diameter of 3 centimeters. Since most offshore ropes are thicker, Teknova has already applied for funding for a bigger machine, which would be able to test ropes with diameters up to 12 centimeters.

“Such a machine would be the largest in the world. It would instantly propel MIL to be an international test laboratory for offshore rope testing,” says Meyer.

FACTS:
Bending fatigue test stand
Length: 12 meters
Height: 2.2 meters
Width: 1.3 meters
Weight: 7 tons
Line pull: 30 tons
Producer: DEP Engineering (France)

RCN Site Visit to SFI Offshore Mechatronics

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Tuesday Sept. 20 the RCN team: Kai Mjøsund, Liv Jorunn Jenssen and Øyvind Veddeng Salvesen had their Site visit to SFI Offshore Mechatronics.

University of Agder as host, presented the status of the Center and presented also the future plans for Mechatronics Innovation Lab. The feedback from RCN was that the SFI Offshore Mechatronics is on track. In the picture above (from the right): Center Director Geir Hovland- (UiA) Special adviser Liv Jorunn Jenssen (RCN), Controller Silje Bartholdsen (UiA), Faculty Director Heidi Kristensen (UiA), Chariman SFI Offshore Mechatronics Leif Haukom (GCE NODE), Adviser Øyvind Veddeng Salvesen (RCN), Deputy Director General Kai Mjøsund (RCN), Head of department Rein Terje Thorstensen (UiA), Adm. manager SFI Offshore Mechatronics Rachel Funderud Syrtveit (UiA), Chief Financial Officer Kjetil Hellang (UiA) and University Director Seunn Smith-Tønnessen (UiA)

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The RCN participantans also got a demonstration in the UiA Motion lab, by PhD Research Fellow Sandre Sonden Tørdal. He is doing his work within Work Package 2: Motion compensation, led by NTNU professor Olav Egeland.

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MIL: Breaking of first ground

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Hard working kids from the Kindergarden “next door”, Hokus Pokus, helped breaking the first ground for Mechatronics Innovation Lab (MIL) today.

Kjetil Hellang, the Financial Director of UiA, guided the audience through speakers like Tor Henning Ramfjord (NOV), Johan Martin Ugland (JBU) and UiA Rector Frank Reichert.