It goes without saying steel is essential to the construction of any windfarm. The amount of steel used during fabrication is also key to not only the capital cost of building a windfarm but also, due to financing mechanisms, can be to its long-term profitability. At Wood Thilsted, with our specialty in foundation design, the combination of our bespoke design software specific to support offshore-wind engineering along with our very particular experience and skills make sure we consistently deliver best value for clients. In short, our tech automates and integrates data analysis getting higher quality and faster results that our teams can then use to optimise designs. In addition, our ability to optimise design, with the lowest weight needed per depth, safely, means the least amount of steel is needed during the fabrication process.

That’s always great news for our clients and, when the set-up is right, we can go one step further by supporting clients to place that efficient steel order when prices are favourable. When steel market prices are changing fast this can be a great advantage.

How do we do this? Well, using one recent example, we were asked by the client if we could deliver 6 months of planned work within 7 days, through hugely accelerating our design and analysis on the order required for secondary steel. Our solution doesn’t mean cutting corners or making guesses, it means focus and requires an important set of parameters to be in place. In this case, the client working relationship was strong as we’d already been working together for 18 months and they understood our capabilities, we had existing technical specifications and design benchmark from a closely related project and the client also understood the risk profile. So, the client asked us about placing the order with seven days’ notice and we accepted the challenge to make that happen.

What was our approach?

As there are significant risks involved with this exercise, a systematic review of the secondary steel design has been undertaken by us to outline the risks and assumptions. In addition, a number of design enhancements had been implemented to de-risk the steel order and provide additional contingency in the design.

We decided to bring all the company experts together in a ‘super sprint’ to address all the technical and complexity challenges.

The strategy was to systematically go through the whole secondary steel design in a methodical and logical process but one delivered at pace. We pulled together a matrix of all the components along with the risks and known assumptions for each component. Each component along with a list of tasks was allocated across the team on a daily basis. We then regrouped daily with the client and fabricator to go through our learnings, assess any modifications required for a component, make decisions, and move on.

What was the ultimate deliverable? We delivered a full material take off tables for the fabricator and developer. This was supported by drawings and an updated 3D model so independent checks could be done as well as updated detailed specifications.

Some readers will be thinking a lot about risk with this approach. What we found was the focus and direct access delivered huge time efficiencies, all because our software enables the fastest design process in the world. We can handle design changes in a fraction of the time that our competitors can. This approach isn’t possible on every project as you need to have the right relationship, a previous project baseline and technical designs in place. However, with these criteria and this approach in place we can and did mitigate any residual risk by doing analysis checks and loads to ensure the right amount of contingency was retained on every component. This is only possible due to Wood Thilsted’s integrated in-house technology and ‘one team’ approach which means we can move at a speed others can’t. These outputs could then all be factored into the final decision-making process. Finally, it takes a client who also agrees to take on the risk that further detailed discussions might change certain requirements.

The output from this accelerated approach was the Engineering Manager that was impressed by not only our rising to the challenge but also the quality of the work and a large saving for the project. It enabled our client to place their steel order early, delivering significant savings for the project and ensuring a positive relationship with their fabricator. In addition, it led to us getting additional work with that client, given the performance under stress and our flexibility as a company.

It tested our agility as a team but also demonstrated that our overall approach of combining skill, experience, and tech, all under ‘one roof’ is the right one. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the project is now AFC approved. What more can you ask for?

To find out more about how we could help ensure your designs are the most optimal and your project order steel is the most efficient contact us.

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