Peplink has implemented a solution that bonds 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi to provide a single seamless connectivity solution aboard the ‘Pioneering Spirit, the world’s largest vessel, which is being used for the decommissioning of Shell’s 24,000 ton Brent Delta oil rig off the coast of Scotland.
At the core of the new system is a Peplink Balance 710 that prioritises its WAN connections initially from point-to-point Wi-Fi, 2x LTE/3G via MAX HD2 IP67, VSAT, and finally tethered data from an Iridium satellite phone.
To maximise WAN diversity, one MAX HD2 IP67 is placed on each side of the vessel spread 300 meters apart to maximise signal reception. This setup is designed to maintain a continuous connection, and is also configured to prioritise the most affordable WAN connections.
When the vessel is at shore, it connects to point-to-point Wi-Fi. When this becomes unavailable, it will fail-over to cellular network connections provided by the MAX HD2 IP67s. Once it leaves shore coverage, cellular networks will take over until they are out of reach of the cellular towers. At which point, VSAT takes over, with the Iridium satellite phone as an additional failover option.
While the main reason for choosing Peplink is its ability to seamlessly prioritise WAN connections and failover between them, there were other considerations. As Remco van den Heuvel, project manager for SL2A Group explained: “Another benefit is the Peplink InControl 2 management software that offers convenient cloud-based remote access and monitoring and powerful GPS tracking features.
“The fact that the MAX HD2 has an IP rating of 67 means that it is dust tight as well as being able to withstand submersion in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes makes it perfect for the harsh seas.”
As ostensibly a crane platform, the $2.3 billion, 403,243 gross tonnage vessel is designed to deal with harsh environments and is in constant contact with land based operation centres that work with on-board engineering teams for the complex decommissioning process.
Although Allseas, one of the world’s largest subsea construction companies and owner of the Pioneering Spirit could have just used VSAT technology for ship to shore communication, it was felt that additional diversity and communication redundancy was needed to supplement the existing systems.
Rene Holland, Head of IT for Allseas working closely with sl2a Group, a specialist in communication and ICT for the marine industry undertook a research project and evaluated several alternatives before selecting Peplink. As Holland explained: “…We lose money when we don’t have Internet,” which is a situation the implemented Peplink solution aims to solve.