Michael Calvert, our Geophysical Product Manager, tells us why geophysics gets him out of bed in the morning and shares his plans for our renewable energy offering.
How would you describe your role at applied acoustics?
As geophysical product manager, I have quite a varied role. Anything from product training and working on design and development, to organising product trials and answering customer questions and support requests. The whole spectrum.
My main purpose is to be a communications hub, organiser and fixer. With my background as a geophysicist, I can see our products from a customer’s perspective. I talk to engineers, customers and sales, linking them all together to deliver the best product possible.
Where did your interest in geophysics and subsea equipment start?
It was a less usual and more diverse route that led me to this role. Initially, after leaving secondary school, I worked as an electrician. Then, in my late twenties, I went back into full-time education, completing a foundation course in electronic engineering at the University of York.
I have always been a practical thinker, but with a keen interest in earth and life sciences too. I think the subject of geophysics appealed to me because it combines all of these aspects. Therefore, after my studies at York, I went on to complete an integrated Masters in Geophysics at the University of Southampton.
The great thing about working on geophysical surveys, especially marine geophysics, is that you’re often the first to see a part of the world that has never been seen before. That really appealed to my spirit of discovery.
Why did you join applied acoustics?
I’ve worked as an offshore geophysicist for several years (Gardline and EMGS) and it’s not always easy. You’re away from home for six months of the year or more, so I’d always planned to eventually find a shore-based role. The Covid situation this year caused a lot of disruption to offshore survey projects I was working on and provided me with an opportunity to re-assess my work-life balance.
The role at applied acoustics appealed to me because it brought together my knowledge of geophysics and skills from my electronic engineering background. applied acoustics is also a long-term supplier of survey equipment to companies like Gardline, so I already knew they were well-established and respected in the industry.
How would you summarise your experience of the renewables sector?
The majority of my renewables experience came at Gardline. I was involved in offshore wind farm projects in the UK, Europe and USA, working with the likes of Equinor (formerly Statoil) and Ørsted, one of the biggest companies in the offshore wind farm sector.
Some of the projects focused on UXO surveys and clearance, while others incorporated a combination of geophysical methods including seismic surveys, side scan surveys, magnetometers, bathymetry, geotechnical surveys and geohazard identification.
What unique challenges and opportunities do renewables projects offer?
Most windfarms tend to be sited in very shallow water settings, which can be particularly challenging for seismic surveys. These surveys are typically aiming to acquire ultra-high resolution (UHR) data for the near-surface portion of the seabed (first 50m or so).
To get the best results, the surveys depend heavily on highly accurate positioning of equipment (source and receiver), high-frequency sampling of data, and precise timing of events (shots points and arrivals). The combination of these factors mean the UHR surveys, particularly multi-channel surveys, have a very low tolerance for error.
There are also multiple stages to a renewables project, from assessing the viability of offshore construction sites through to construction, then ongoing monitoring and maintenance. As a result, renewables projects tend to be large in terms of geographic area and data volume, not to mention long-lived. This allows us to build relationships with clients over a number of years.
How are applied acoustics’ products designed to suit the needs and challenges of the renewables sector?
Many of our sparkers are designed to produce the high frequencies required for UHR seismic surveys. Our Dura-Spark 240/400 and 400+400 in particular give their users a great amount of flexibility when it comes to varying the source’s power level, pulse shape, frequency content and bandwidth.
Our USBL tracking systems and positioning beacons deliver accurate results in shallow-water and deep-water settings, with little interference. We recently launched our Easytrak Pyxis INS + USBL system, which was very much designed with shallow-water renewables operations in mind.
How are you looking to enhance applied acoustics’ support for renewables clients?
One of our main aspirations is to stimulate discussion and establish trust with everyone in the geophysical survey chain. Our primary relationship is usually with the acquisition company, but by engaging with data processors and the end clients, we can build an even greater understanding of the sector, how it is changing and how we can adapt to that.
We are looking to encourage collaboration at all stages of the process and develop “virtuous circles” with clients. If we can enhance our products to better suit a client’s needs, they can acquire high-quality surveys and in turn make good project decisions.
Granted it’s been a difficult year for building contacts and relationships, but like any problem, we can find a solution if we work together.
Please get in touch with our team today to discuss your renewables project, or reach out to Michael directly on MCalvert@appliedacoustics.com.