UWA Senior Engineering Student Visit
TMT Australia conducted a tour for a group of 14 UWA mechanical engineering students on Thursday 24 April. The students were participants in an advanced mechanical design course run for masters and fourth year students by Winthrop Professor James Trevelyan in the UWA school of Mechanical Engineering.
TMT’s business is the design, manufacture and operation of ROV’s and subsea robotic equipment, and the tour covered all of these aspects in a blitzkrieg 1 hour. The emphasis of the tour was on design and manufacture, which happens in Bibra Lake, with discussion of the offshore context along the way so the students could see how the challenges for offshore operations are being grappled with by the on-shore design and manufacturing teams.
The tour started with a safety induction where the students were challenged to think through the types of hazards they might encounter in their tour, and how they might conduct themselves to minimise the chance of an incident. The critical point is that compliance with safety barriers and no touch policies are just one of many safety precautions to protect them from potential invisible stored energy hazards such as 10,000 psi hydraulic pressure and 3000VAC electrical sources. The students were also encouraged to participate in the workshop safety culture with vigilance for hazards such as noise, fumes, spills or vehicle traffic that they could encounter during a trip around an active workshop. Finally, the students were challenged to think about the reporting of incidents and why it would be beneficial to report a seemingly minor incident such as a finger cut or near miss, learning that the frequency of these “small” incidents is a critical management tool to prevent major safety incidents. The students were engaged with the discussion, and even came prepared with their own high vis jackets, steel caps, safety glasses and hardhats. They conducted themselves peerlessly during the tour and needless to say went home without incident.
In the TMT engineering design offices, engineers work on designing TMT’s subsea robotic equipment. They come from a range of backgrounds including mechanical, electrical, electronic and software engineering. The students had a chance to talk with the engineers about designs they were working on for ROV control systems, new ROV compensators and even a virtual 3D system integration test being prepared for the deployment of a large cutting tool on a Typhoon Mk2 ROV. Additionally the students were introduced to some of the different ways that design information for these disciplines is conveyed for production via drawings, schematics, code and 3D files.
From the design office, students were shown into the production engineering area where designs are turned into production schedules coordinating the manufacture of the physical hardware. Production engineers collate and organise the design information, distributing it to the various internal and external technicians who construct the equipment. This is where costs are tightly controlled and issues are discussed with workshop and engineering department managers on a daily basis to resolve problems swiftly and efficiently.
The electronics laboratory is where electronics assembly and testing happens. The students were able to see the two halves of an ROV brain laid out ready for installation, as well as TMT smart level technology being prepared for deployment. Circuit boards were being soldered under microscopes, pressure resistant bottles were being wired up with waterproof connectors, and two ROV thruster manifolds were being fitted with their PCBS and connectors. The electronics lab shows how the different engineering disciplines had to work together to create the final product designs that would seal mechanically under high pressure whilst still operating effectively electronically to provide communications, control and even subsea digital display of information.
Adjacent to the electronics lab is the electrical cleanroom where ROV surface electrical switchgear is assembled and tested. Again there is a clear combination of engineering disciplines with custom designed mechanical cabinets to mount the electrical gear needed to power an ROV system. TMT uses custom 2.1m wide cabinets to mount the 2,100kg of electrical equipment for the ROV power system so it can be installed into a compact sea container footprint. This compact layout allows a full 150HP ROV system to be powered and controlled from a single 20ft sea container, providing a substantial benefit to operators of rigs and vessels where space is a t a premium.
The three mechanical workshop departments at TMT are fabrication, machining, and hydraulics. The students were shown how fabrication of ferrous and non-ferrous metals are physically isolated from each other to prevent contamination. In the machine shop there was an urgent rush job going through for a client – demonstrating the advantage of in-house manufacturing to value add on ROV services. In the hydraulics area, there was pressure testing being conducted on termination boxes. The students were challenged to think about how many times this one assembly would be tested – firstly with water to check integrity of welds after initial fabrication. Secondly with air to check integrity of final assembly prior to assembly on vehicle. Thirdly with air as part of the compensation circuit pre-test, and finally with oil prior to the vehicle immersion testing. Worth it? With 3000VAC inside and tight production schedules depending on it working right – definitely!
In the ROV assembly and commissioning area there were two bare frames in early stages of fit-out and two vehicles in the final stages of assembly ready for commissioning. The students were given a full walk through of the ROV system showing how electrical energy is transformed into hydraulic energy to provide the muscles of the ROV, and how the brains they saw in the electrical workshop act like a nervous system, gathering information and regulating the ROV system so it performs efficiently. In addition, the students were challenged to think about the purpose of the many manual gauges and indicators on the system that provide visual confirmation of the electronic alarms and indicators. This is to prevent unnecessary and expensive recovery to surface when alarm conditions get inadvertently triggered by connector or sensor failure rather than actual alarm conditions. Further, the nature of the ROV was unpacked, showing how its chief role is to be remote eyes for surface vessels, equipped with hydraulic and electrical energy sources plus providing data communications links back to the surface.
The tour wrapped up with a Q&A session in the boardroom. The answer to the final question was the same as every tour: “Yes, we employ graduate engineers and undergrad trainees…see the HR section on our website which is continually updated with available positions.”