Simulator sessions with Les Alizés' digital twin in Norway

Simulation sessions with ‘digital twin’ of Les Alizés in Norway

They are fully ready now. Eight crew members of our newest Heavy-Lift Vessel Les Alizés and seven support colleagues spent a week in Norway in early February for simulator sessions with a virtual twin of the vessel. After five intense days of training, they returned home with a lot of new insights, ready for Les Alizés' first mission: the Borkum Riffgrund 3 and Gode Wind 3 wind farms.

Already since March last year, the Technical Department has been working on the development of Les Alizés' simulator. For this, they worked closely with OSC Norway who programmed the simulator. But above all, our colleagues worked closely with each other. Besides the Technical Department, the Operations, Survey, Marine Engineering and New Building Departments were also involved in the project. Thanks to the input and knowledge of these experts, the simulator corresponds as closely as possible to reality.

"Thanks to the cooperation between the different departments, we were able to create a realistic digital twin of Les Alizés and we discovered which details we definitely needed to include in the simulator and which were less relevant. Our colleagues from Operations, for example, have a good view on how things work in practice and could therefore tell us what we should best focus on in a simulation," explains Pieterjan Bonte, Project Manager of the simulator project.

Getting to know Les Alizés

Les Alizés is not only one of our newest Offshore Installation Vessels, it is also the largest Heavy-Lift Vessel in our fleet. The vessel's impressive size and lifting capacity are needed so that it can install the latest generation of wind turbines. Moreover, Les Alizés is also equipped with a new installation methodology so that operations can be carried out in the safest and most efficient way. In short, it has a lot of new features for future crew members and operators to discover. On top of that, there was no time for the crew to practice between the delivery of the vessel and the start of its first project. The simulation sessions were therefore necessary.

The sessions in Norway were preceded by preparatory sessions in our offices in Aalst. There, the participants received the necessary information on the vessel’s equipment and operation. This allowed them to make maximum use of the five training days in Norway.

Training operations, procedures and cooperation

During the simulator sessions in Norway, crew members and operators 'really' got to know the vessel for the first time and got a feel for its operation. On top of that, they also got to know each other: they discovered who takes on which role, who takes the lead in which situations and communication procedures were intensively trained.

Of course, the participants also simulated the monopile installation of the Borkum Riffgrund 3 and Gode Wind 3 projects from start to finish. They tuned the lifting tool, performed the upend operation of the crane, installed the monopile in the water in the right position and hammered it down. They did all of that in different simulated conditions: in good weather with few waves and current, in bad weather with high waves and more wind or in dense fog. Those extensive tests revealed a lot about the projects, even before they actually started.

"The simulator training allowed us to better assess what works and what doesn't and revisit certain actions afterwards. We were able to identify several matters regarding the execution of the project, cooperation and procedures that we would normally have realised only during the project. That way, the tests saved us a lot of time."

Offshore Project Engineer Arno Soetaert

Worth repeating

Les Alizés' simulator is still under development. The version that was tested in early February is already well on its way to the intended end result and gives an accurate picture of what operations will be like in reality. With feedback from the participants, we can now continue to perfect the simulator with OSC Norway. Not only is the simulator intended to be used for other projects in the future, a smaller version of it would also be given a place in our future new office building in Aalst.

Curious to see what the simulator sessions in Norway were like? Then be sure to check out the video below!