Lateral launches new cleaning solution for small ROVs

LATERAL THINKING: Vidar Kristoffersen, a project engineer at Lateral, with the Norwegian firm’s FlexiClean Micro innovation.

SUBSEA technology innovator Lateral has launched a new marine growth removal tool for use by smaller ROVs to reduce costs and save time.

The FlexiClean Micro is a ‘little brother’ to the Norway-based company’s larger FlexiClean innovation, which was launched in 2014 and is now used worldwide – most recently on a deepwater marine growth cleaning project in Brazil.

Lateral said it was responding to the customer demand by introducing a downsized version of FlexiClean for deployment on smaller observation class ROVs to perform marine growth cleaning tasks. The Micro has a single layer of polyurethane fingers that remove growth more efficiently than many jetting and conventional brush options.

The electrically-powered FlexiClean Micro reduces the need for using large-scale workclass ROVs (WROVs) and the associated costs of a specialist vessel and additional manpower.

The innovation is on show at Subsea Expo – the first time the Lateral product has been showcased at a major exhibition.

Lateral co-founder and technical manager Keith Robertson, who was born in Aberdeen but has lived in the Stavanger area for over 30 years, said: “Our pitch to clients is that Flexi Clean can do 95% of the cleaning projects in 5% of the time. This has been proven time and again.

“The FlexiClean Micro development has been based upon this solid track record. It has been well received by the market and we’ve already had a great deal of interest due to the innovation’s ability to deliver more cost efficient cleaning using less expensive vehicles in challenging environments.

“The Micro can be used with smaller ROVs that can for example sit on the deck of an FPSO, and it can carry out smaller projects at a fraction of the cost of a vessel-based WROV spread.

“The Micro has been designed to be deployed on a wide range of smaller ROV systems. It is powered by a battery capable of running the system for useful durations without the requirement for recharging on deck, due to the inclusion of the ability to trickle charge the system from available ROV tooling power while in the water.

“It’s another example of the smart approach to problem-solving that clients have come to expect from Lateral and have historically come to Lateral for.

“The market has been asking us for a smaller version of the FlexiClean which could be used on observation-class vehicles to perform more limited cleaning tasks as an alternative to higher-cost workclass ROVs. More and more people are looking to ‘go smaller’ to reduce installation, maintenance and repair (IMR) work and underwater inspection in lieu of dry docking (UWILD) expenditure.

“FlexiClean Micro is designed to work with a significant number of the smaller industry-standard electrically-powered ROVs, regardless of power system architecture and our smart battery package effectively makes it a plug-in and play solution.

“We were always confident there was a need for the FlexiClean Micro and recent meetings with clients have confirmed this. There is a move toward electrically-powered ROVs and the FlexicClean Micro appears to have arrived at just the right time. We’re delighted to have come up with another proven product that lives up to our mantra of doing more with less.”

Ten FlexiClean Micro systems are currently in build with three pre-production units already out with regular clients undergoing integration, reliability and performance testing.

In addition to the FlexiClean range of products, Lateral has developed a series of efficient and cost-effective innovations in recent times.

FlexiCal is an electrically-driven subsea vernier primarily for chain metrology; FlexiTrim is designed to clean and inspect flexible risers and wire mooring lines, supported by video inspection and sensors; FlexiTric is a tubular and riser cleaning tool that requires no interface to the ROV except a tether cable, and FlexiClip is used to repair sheath damage on mooring lines in-situ.

All products were developed in-house by the Lateral team which is based at Sandnes, near Stavanger, and is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

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