Second Wind

March 1, 2023

Dynamic Load Monitoring combines with sister company Vulcan Offshore to provide a load monitoring, fabrication, welding, and computer numerical control machining service to all marine and subsea industries. 

Dynamic Load Monitoring (UK) Ltd. (DLM) is known as a specialist in the design, manufacture, repair, and calibration of load cells, load monitoring, and cable working equipment for the wind energy and wider renewables sector. However, it often partners with sister company, Vulcan Offshore Ltd., also of Southampton, UK, which is renowned as a specialist in fabrication, welding, and computer numerical control (CNC) machining. It’s a formidable partnership, as we’ll explore. 

“DLM designs and manufactures more electromechanical offshore equipment,” explains Martin Halford, managing director at DLM, “Whereas Vulcan tends to manufacture mechanical equipment. DLM uses Vulcan to manufacture its fabrications and complete CNC work, while the design and final assembly is likely completed at DLM. Frequently, it’s a circular process like that.” 

Chris Scrutton, Halford’s counterpart at Vulcan, says the arrangement allows each company to concentrate on specific areas of expertise and, importantly, retains scope for growth within each business. Combined DLM and Vulcan expansion dovetails with favourable market conditions that sees an increase in offshore wind projects, specifically in Asia and the U.S. Additional demand, Scrutton explains, is being seen from vessel owners and operators procuring new equipment to complete renewable energy projects. 

It’s clear how it works practically: DLM makes the running line monitors (RLMs), saddleback monitors (used in pre-lay grapnel run [PLGR] and route clearance operations to measure line tension), load pins, and load cells that capture data as tension is applied to lifting and marine equipment; Vulcan principally works for cable lay companies that own or charter vessels for laying offshore wind farm or fibre optic cables for the telecommunications industry. Oftentimes, a need for both skillsets arises. 

Two-pronged approach 

“Largely,” continues Halford, “We promote ourselves individually as, although we have some crossover customers, we have our own client bases, despite them [both] centring on the offshore industry. Many wind energy stakeholders will recognise that the companies are branded similarly, which allows them to be promoted uniformly, but it’s important to keep them apart. 

“As Chris says, this enables us to offer a wider scope of supply; we offer different equipment and services, getting us more integrated within the supply chain and ultimately involved in more projects. Clients can even more so use us as a one-stop engineering shop.” 

Scrutton adds, “We offer a comprehensive welding and fabrication service, which can be delivered in our workshop, on- and offshore. It’s proved to be a differentiator that we’re ideally located [near the Southampton port] on the south coast and we have personnel skilled in MMA [manual metal arc], MIG [metal inert gas], and TIG [tungsten inert gas] welding; we also have welders who are CSWIP 3.2 certified.” 

Proximity to the point of use is important because ultimately it is the equipment, not the brands, that have set both DLM and Vulcan on such steep growth curves; one is the mirror image of the other. 

Core products 

Grapnels—put simply, systems consisting of multiple hooks on the end of a rope—have been consistently popular over a period but Vulcan is increasingly meeting demand for bespoke solutions. 

Wheel de-trenching grapnels (or WTGs), meanwhile, are used to de-trench cables buried at depths of greater than 0.5m. WTGs are one of the most robust grapnel products available; they can be used in harsher seabed environments, for example, rocky conditions, but also in soft and crumbly (friable) seabeds, where the addition of the wheels will help to maintain penetration. End users often operate a fleet of cable repair vessels, but the solution is of interest to anyone that completes repair work on laid cables. 

Cable paddles, over-boarding chutes, deck-rollers, and hanging roller sheaves, are also ubiquitous on the order book. Demand for acoustic release units—these are subsea hooks that can be released when they receive a signal from a topside unit—is growing too. 

“Acoustic release units,” says Halford, “are used for cable repairs and deployment subsea. It’s another example of the two companies working together: DLM designs them; Vulcan manufactures them; and DLM completes proof testing prior to shipment. Grapnels, meanwhile, are manufactured at Vulcan, designed, and sold by DLM. Load monitoring tools are also designed by DLM, fabricated by Vulcan, and calibrated by DLM.” 

DLM has even employed a Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR)-based solution recently that could be standardised for future addition to the hire fleet. 

The DLM-Vulcan partnership certainly proves the value of joining forces when serving some of the world’s most demanding, fast-moving sectors, such as wind energy. 

Hire power 

DLM recently expanded its hire fleet for pre-lay grapnel run (PLGR) and route clearance operations. The most notable additions include two acoustic release hooks and a detrenching grapnel with a 1.8m fluke, the prong-shaped tool that enables penetration of the seabed. Meanwhile, the entire product range has now transitioned to TW-3.0 (third generation) technology. Demand is ever-growing for short- and mid-term use of products such as its running line monitors (RLMs). 

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