Boskalis jaarverslagen 2011

Research and development

New developments

Boskalis wants to continue to set itself apart from its competitors. Increased productivity and lower costs are essential to achieving this. If we are to continue to be able to use the available manpower as efficiently as possible, we will need to constantly optimize all business processes. This calls for new techniques, smart applications and the constant improvement of equipment, working methods and computer models.

Deep-sea mining

Seabed mining of minerals is an activity which is closely related to dredging and for which demand is growing. In 2011, Boskalis conducted a preliminary study into the collection of rock phosphates from the seabed. New Zealand needs one million tonnes of phosphates a year to use as artificial fertilizers in the agricultural sector. The extraction of rock phosphate offers substantial economic, environmental and market benefits as it obviates the need to import artificial fertilizers. Boskalis was selected from three international parties to further develop its concept. We have since demonstrated its technical feasibility.

Working with SMIT

The SMIT activities benefit from, amongst other areas of expertise, the geographic positioning and survey capabilities of Boskalis. Whereas previously SMIT sourced this type of expertise from third parties, it now uses the Boskalis survey services when charting shipwrecks and supervising salvage operations. Subsea equipment and in some cases divers are fitted with positioning equipment which allow such salvage operations to be carried out more efficiently and safely. Boskalis positioning equipment is also in use on the Remotely Operated Vehicles (robots) which both SMIT and Boskalis use for subsea operations and rock dumping.

Scientific research

In addition to the research it carries out and innovations it achieves internally, Boskalis supports fundamental scientific research relevant to our industry. Both individually and at sector level, we engage in (fundamental) research in conjunction with knowledge institutes and universities, and share knowledge through lectures and presentations. This also applies to the knowledge gained from the Building with Nature program. We communicate this information to universities and professional education institutions through various readerships, guest lecturer positions and post-academic and other courses.

In addition, Boskalis supports a number of doctorate research projects at Delft University of Technology. For example, Boskalis supports research into wear and tear processes to the dredging installation caused by currents. Two doctorate students are going to work on this doctorate research project at the leading institute Materials to Innovate (M2I), in cooperation with Delft University of Technology.

In the framework of the Dutch government’s Maritime Innovation Program we, along with a number of partners, are going to contribute to a doctorate research project at Delft University of Technology into dredging techniques in hard soil at great water depth. The Dutch government is investing in this type of research in order to maintain the leading knowledge and market position of the Dutch maritime industry. This Exhadero research (Excavation of Hard Deposits and Rocks) is important for the development of equipment and working methods for deep-sea mining. 
Raw materials often have to be cut away from the seabed. However, the enormous water pressure means that the cutting process at great depths differs from that in shallow water. 
This research project involves developing new models to help determine what requirements and force levels will have to be met by modified or newly built equipment.

Added to My report add to My report Source: Annual review 2011, Report of the Board of Management, page 46