Applied Acoustic Engineering (AAE) has announced the launch of their next generation USBL system, Pyxis USBL. Taking its name from the constellation Pyxis Nautica – the mariner’s compass – Pyxis USBL takes the best of AAE’s subsea acoustic tracking technology with a highly advanced inertial navigation system (INS) from one of the most respected names in the industry, to create a state of the art, inertially aided Ultra Short Baseline system capable of accurate subsea tracking with survey grade performance.
The combination of AAE’s Sigma 2 acoustic protocols and SBG Systems high precision Navsight Apogee Marine INS brings together two leading names in the field of marine technology, resulting in AAE’s most accurate and long range positioning system to date, and in the process providing many time, cost and performance benefits to global survey operators.
As a tightly coupled, factory fitted package, Pyxis USBL is a portable, calibration free system able to immediately operate from any vessel as soon as the work site has been reached. The MEMS based INS does not fall under ITAR regulations, and the range restricted option means the whole system can be shipped unhindered and without export control to almost anywhere in the world. A feature of the Pyxis system is the ability for the operator to deactivate the range restriction in the field under an export-controlled regime.
A spokesperson for SBG Systems commented “AAE and SBG Systems have collaborated for several years on different projects and have established an excellent relationship. We are thrilled that Applied Acoustics has selected our Navsight Apogee OEM high performance system to be integrated into the first-ever USBL to embed a MEMS INS”.
Available with short range omni-directional or long range directional transceiver options, the versatility of Pyxis USBL makes it ideal for very shallow operations such as diver monitoring, for deeper applications where ROV’s and AUV’s might be deployed, and for tracking short or long range towed sensors such as magnetometers and side scan sonars.
The selection of suitable sites for offshore wind development is an extremely complex issue that takes into account many factors including water depth limitations, environmental restrictions and the potential maximum distance from onshore assets. However, one of the critical elements in site selection for these installations are geological restrictions, and this is an area where the expertise of Applied Acoustic Engineering (AAE) is helping to shape the landscape of the industry.
Prior to the construction of an offshore wind facility, site characterisation surveys are required to evaluate the impact of seafloor and sub-seafloor (sub-bottom) conditions on the construction, operation and structural integrity of the proposed area.
Surveys requiring the acquisition of geophysical information are typically carried out using surface towed sensors, with AAE’s range of sub-bottom profiling systems leading the way in terms of data quality and adaptability. AAE’s boomer and sparker systems are being utilised to collect site-specific data such as stratigraphy, sediment variability and structure, buried boulders and rocky outcrops. Geomorphological features such as faults and folds can also be detected as well as the presence of shallow gas pockets and other potential geo-hazards. The method used to achieve this is a seismic reflection technique that relies on the interpretation of reflections from acoustic impedance changes at geologic formation boundaries.
Each AAE system consists of a vessel based seismic energy source (a CSP power supply); a seismic sound source towed on the sea surface (boomer or sparker); single or multi-channel hydrophone streamers that receive the reflected signals, and data acquisition and processing software. Offering a modular range of sub-bottom profiling products, AAE is able to configure systems that can be used aboard any size of survey vessel and for varying conditions of geological states and water depths.
Whilst AAE produces an extensive range of geological survey systems, the S-Boom triple boomer and the Dura-Spark sparkers are particularly adept in shallow waters in which these site surveys and cable route surveys are generally carried out. Four seismic sound source sparkers are available for these applications, ranging from the L80, a lightweight 80 tip sparker used extensively in very shallow areas, coastal or estuarine surveys, up to the twin-deck UHD 400 + 400, which features ‘tuneable’ twin banks of electrode tips that can provide the highest resolution data for windfarm site survey applications.
In addition to the geological information acquired with the towed sub-bottom profiler, AAE also provides positional information of the hydrophones through the use of 101G MiniPod submersible GNSS receivers. The MiniPods can be installed on the head and tail buoys of the hydrophone streamers to confirm their precise position enabling geo-referencing of the geological data.
When integrated with geo-technical results from core samples, borings and data from bathymetric and other surface condition surveys, the data collected using AAE sub-bottom systems provides a key insight that ultimately helps to determine the suitability of proposed offshore installations, helping to create and sustain the future of renewable offshore energy.
The use of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) to determine the positions of surface shipping has long been the conventional method for monitoring and recording the location of marine traffic. Equipment installed high above the water surface will continually and accurately report its position, safely removed from the threat of submergence and harmful water damage. However, not all assets have sufficient elevation to allow for such installations, so the challenge exists of how to accurately log the positions of target platforms directly on, or even under the surface of the water while maintaining the operational integrity of the equipment used to log those positions.
Modulus Technology Ltd, an AAE Technologies Group company, has risen to this challenge, devising a family of GNSS systems that can be used on the water surface and can survive submersion of several thousand metres water depth.
Originally designed for towed seismic streamer systems, the compact MiniPod 101G is ideal for smaller platforms where size, weight, and limited mounting arrangements are critical factors. Depth rated to 50m, the 101G can be safely installed close to the water surface and transmit its position to a mother vessel over a range of up to 2km.
The MiniPod 103G and MiniPod 106G models are variations on the same theme, depth rated to 1000m and 6000m respectively, making them the perfect partner for observation class or deep water work class ROV’s. When used in conjunction with subsea acoustic positioning systems such as USBL, real-time monitoring of vehicles in the undersea or surface environments becomes possible and enables surface tracking/recovery and lost asset relocation.
Heading up the family is the MiniPod 107GS, which takes the features and benefits of all models in the MiniPod range and combines them with IsatData Pro technology to provide a global satellite relocation service. When installed on a subsea vehicle, accurate positional information can be transmitted to any location on the globe once the vehicle has broken the water surface, a crucial component in remote asset monitoring.
All models in the MiniPod range incorporate robust and shock mounted dual band L1 + L2 receivers, and can be allied to the Atlas corrections service for greater accuracy.
As Applied Acoustic Engineering (AAE) has always known, industry diversification and changes in standards and practices, often necessitate an adjustment in the outputs of associated technology providers. The award winning manufacturer of marine geophysical survey systems long ago identified the shift in business activities of its core customers from traditional offshore oil & gas projects to the burgeoning global offshore wind industry, and has spent time channelling their experience in marine survey practices to remodel and enhance their product portfolio to better serve the needs of this industry. Realigning the highly regarded range of Duraspark geophysical sound sources, the UK based company now offers a complete array of systems in tune with the specific requirements and demands put in place by the offshore wind operators.
New for 2020, two lightweight sparkers have been added to the Duraspark product line, complementing AAE’s existing systems and creating an extended family of negative discharge sparkers. Featuring twin banks of 40 electrode tips, the Duraspark L80 can operate in 40 or 80 tip mode, offering energy outputs of either 100 Joules or 200 Joules per shot; ideal for very shallow areas, and coastal & estuarine surveys. Its uniquely small footprint and low power consumption makes it particularly useful on board smaller survey craft with limited deck space and minimal lifting equipment.
The Duraspark L200 features twin banks of 100 electrode tips that can be fired at up to 500 Joules per shot concurrently, independently, in flip-flop mode or with a combination of fire delay or split fire delay. This flexibility, together with selectable source depth, allows the sound source to be used in both shallow and deeper waters for multiple marine geophysical data gathering applications.
In service since 2016, the workhorse of the Duraspark range of sparkers continues to be the Duraspark UHD 240/400. These proven sound sources can be found across the globe, acquiring the high resolution seismic data required for renewable energy installations, offshore oil & gas surveys and for the research and study of areas of scientific interest. With the ability to operate at energy levels of up to 2000 Joules per shot, these are extremely flexible tools with the capability of working within many project scenarios.
Making its first appearance during the second half of 2019, the Duraspark UHD 400 + 400 sits at the head of the Duraspark family and is the most sophisticated system in the range. Consisting of twin decks of 400 electrode tips, the operator is able to tune the source from the vessel to fit the required function and data requirements. Each deck can be fired independently from the CSP power supply, in flip flop mode, combined with fire delays or a split fire delay. Utilising the fire delay functions, the signatures from the 2 decks can be combined to bubble form the acoustic signature, creating an extremely clean pulse at high energy outputs, resulting in sparker data of the highest quality and resolution.
All Duraspark systems from AAE feature negative discharge, long life electrodes designed to provide the consistently stable, repeatable sound pulses required for high resolution sub-bottom geophysical surveys, while keeping operational maintenance to a minimum.
On 4th October the Applied Acoustics team came together to take part in the World’d Biggest Coffee Morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, raising a fantastic £385.
The total was generously matched by the company, doubling the dough raised to a whopping £770! The money raised helps provide essential physical, emotional and financial support to those that need it.
Thank you to all who baked, and ate!
Continuing the celebration of 30 years in business, the Applied Acoustics family closed out the summer with a grand casino and party night in it’s home town of Great Yarmouth. Recognising some of the company’s fantastic achievements and successes of the last 30 years, it’s clear that none of this would be possible without a dedicated and talented group of individuals working together as one team.
From humble beginnings supplying acoustic positioning beacons, the company has developed in expertise and now manufactures an extensive portfolio of highly technical acoustic products for a wide variety of industries including offshore renewables, oceanographic and research institutes, offshore oil and gas and defence, and can be found in the oceans right across the globe. Some things may have changed over the past three decades, but Applied Acoustics commitment to its customers remains the same.
Here’s to the next 30 years!
Ensign Subsea Systems, a member of the AAE Technologies group of companies, is proud to announce the award of a significant defence contract by an undisclosed major naval power. Utilising the technology produced by its sister company, Applied Acoustic Engineering (AAE), the award is for the supply and support of multiple units of AAE’s Nexus 2 USBL tracking system that are be installed on the Navy’s next generation mine countermeasures (MCM) vessels. Worth in excess of £1.5m GBP, the contract award follows a long period of testing, evaluation and enhancement of the system in close cooperation with the Navy and its prime contractor, heightening the reputation of the Nexus 2 USBL as a fundamental feature within the MCM toolbox.
First launched in the early 2000’s, AAE’s USBL systems have evolved impressively over the years culminating in the latest generation Nexus 2 system, a highly accurate platform capable of operating to ranges of more than 3km and to an accuracy of 0.1% of slant range. An important feature of the Nexus 2 with great significance to the MCM community, is the system’s ability to operate at fast tow speeds of around 10 knots. It’s this ability that allows the system to be used in conjunction with high speed side scan sonars and other towed sonar arrays, crucial for military groups carrying out threat detection and other subsea surveillance tasks.
Speaking from the group’s headquarters in the UK, Gavin Willoughby, Director of Ensign Subsea Systems expanded on the company’s capability in this area. “Although several hundred of the group’s USBL systems are operating in a commercial survey environment, we have now supplied close to 250 subsea tracking systems to the global defence market; and with more than 100 of those primarily installed for MCM operations, I believe we are now the leading name in this specific area of maritime security operations. We are hugely proud to be a trusted supplier of this critical component, and with our expertise in subsea acoustics, our knowledge and background in the defence industry, and our ability to incorporate the needs of our clients into our systems, I’m confident that Ensign Subsea and its sister companies will continue in their role as a primary technology provider to the world’s naval groups”.
AAE Technologies Group company, Modulus Technology, has recently introduced further options to extend the flexibility of its 101G submersible GPS receiver that transmits positioning data back to a vessel or the shoreline.
The lightweight, rugged product with integrated antenna provides wired or wireless streamer head and tail positioning, source positioning for 3D UHR seismic operations and is ideal for the positioning of subsea excavation vehicles, or towed sensors such as magnetometers, that operate in shallow waters.
The extra features now available include a MiniPod with AHRS sensor and a version with the GPS and AHRS sensor combined. In addition, the system now provides integration of external GPS corrections from the vessel to the MiniPod for increased positional accuracy. The wireless operating range of all units can also be increased from 800m to 2000m with the addition of a further external antenna.
Though designed for operation on a floating catamaran or hydrophone etc., the MiniPod range will survive immersion to 50m. Each is only 170mm in length and 115mm diameter, and can be cabled linked to the host equipment for its power supply or powered by an optional external submersible battery pack for up to 10 days operation.
The vessel based, compact, easily integrated wireless receiver unit can receive data from up to four MiniPods supplying a single GPS string at 10Hz refresh rate. Its custom software allows for easy configuration of the received data to merge with standard third party survey packages.
The Modulus MiniPod Series is easy to deploy due to its small size and innovative design. It provides accurate positional information to facilitate increased operational efficiency making it a unique asset to the offshore industry for multiple applications.
Applied Acoustic Engineering Ltd is excited to announce its decision to open its first location in an overseas territory. The Canadian city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, will become home to AAE Americas on May 1st 2019, when the company moves into its new office at the Centre for Ocean Ventures & Entrepreneurship (COVE), a collaborative, harbour-side facility for applied innovation in the ocean sector. The COVE site features extensive marine facilities with two large, deep-water piers, office space, workshops and laboratories.
One-in-five-jobs in Nova Scotia is connected to the ocean with the province being a hub for cutting-edge research and technology development.
Laurel Broten, President and CEO of the business development agency for the Province; Nova Scotia Business Inc. comments “We are proud to welcome Applied Acoustics. Their skills, products and capabilities are a great addition to the ocean ecosystem, strengthening Nova Scotia’s strong acoustic sector, and contributing to the growth of Nova Scotia’s reputation as a world leader in the acoustics market”.
Long serving AAE Sales Manager, Gavin Willoughby, will relocate to Canada as Business Development Manager to oversee the implementation and operation of the new venture, as well as providing sales and support services to the North & South American markets, the firmly established distributor network and the wider geographical areas of business in which the company already operates.
Speaking from the company’s HQ in Great Yarmouth, UK, Gavin commented, “This is a fantastic opportunity for Applied Acoustics to increase its market share in North America and beyond. By establishing a permanent presence in the region we will be able to provide a much more efficient service to our existing customer base there, as well as being in the perfect position to seek out and support new clients and new contracts.
“Now in our 30th year, it’s an exciting time for the company,” he continued, “with many new members of staff successfully recruited over the last 12 months and with new products and innovations firmly in the pipeline, we’re very much looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”
As part of the global development strategy Hollie Moran has been appointed as Sales Manager for the EMEA region, focusing on expanding the sales of the Applied Acoustics’ equipment and continuing to build on the company’s enviable reputation of providing a first class service and high quality products into the commercial, academic and defence markets.
We have recently welcomed Hollie Moran to our sales team as the new Sales Manager for the EMEA region.
In her new role Hollie will focus on expanding the sales of our USBL positioning and tracking systems and sub-bottom profiling equipment, and supporting the company’s distributors in Europe, the Middle East and Africa where opportunities have grown significantly in recent years.
“Hollie’s experience and industry knowledge are very welcome additions to our team and will help us deliver a first-class customer service at a time when we are driving forward our global expansion strategy and building stronger relationships in new geographic market areas,” said Senior Sales Manager, Gavin Willoughby.
Hollie commented, “Having worked with Applied Acoustics for a number of years I am delighted to join the team and further develop its enviable reputation for quality products in this market sector.”
Expansion plans have necessitated the employment of new technical staff at the company. Recent BSc Electronic Engineering graduate Will Oakey has joined the production area; Will Shave, another BSc qualified engineer, is working on new developments in the company’s seismic profiling systems and HND qualified Sean Evans is using his thirty years of technical expertise to improve the quality and build of the latest sparker systems.
“These colleagues will play a pivotal role in helping us to grow the business both in terms of developing new technologies and moving into different markets and geographical areas,” said Technical Manager Neil MacDonald, “We’ve got great talent in the form of our new graduate alongside two experienced engineers who will bring invaluable knowledge, so we look forward to working with all of them, while we advertise for even more engineers to join the company.”
Applied Acoustic Engineering is seeking to employ further technical staff particularly with electronic design and software skills to join them on some ambitious projects.
Applied Acoustics launched new products at Oceanology International in London from both its acoustic positioning and its geophysical product lines.
The flagship USBL system, the Easytrak Nexus 2, is now available with a choice of transceiver; the directional 2780 version that can achieve very long ranges (up to 3km) with a high degree of accuracy (0.1% slant range), and the omni-directional 2686 version ideal for use in extremely shallow water (<2 metres). The operating console is the same in either case enabling the transceivers to be inter-changeable. In addition, the 1100 series of transponders now all feature data telemetry functions which can be utilised when used with the Nexus 2 USBL. The transponders themselves can be used without telemetry with all Applied Acoustic USBL systems, as well as those from other manufacturers, thereby maintaining their overall flexibility.
To meet the challenges faced by surveyors involved in shallow water, ultra-high definition geophysical surveys Applied Acoustics has re-designed to reliable Dura-Spark range. The sparker sound sources now feature faster rep rates, tuneable electrode banks and adjustable source heights, all resulting in clearer high resolution data, ideal for use in offshore wind farm surveys.