Structure-flex Limited, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs), has recently completed one of its most complex projects.
The company was commissioned by one of the world’s biggest oil suppliers to develop a bespoke test bag to replicate the shape and weight of a diving bell used to lower divers to a work vessel on the sea bed.
The vessel houses the divers for periods of up to four weeks while they carry out their underwater work. It contains different living quarters, which are fully pressurised for the various depths the divers need to work in, being constantly controlled by a state-of-the-art computer system. Ocean access to the vessel is through a ‘moon pool’ – a shaft through the hull into the ocean through which a large diving bell containing the divers is lowered by winch. Being a new build, it is this winch that needs to be tested. Clearly the diving bell itself, costing millions of pounds, could not be used for the testing process, so Structure-flex was asked to manufacture a test bag of its exact size and weight.
A normal crane test bag is teardrop shaped – the wrong shape to fit into the shaft through which the diving bell is lowered, so to achieve the static load and weight of the diving bell, Structure-flex had to develop a bespoke cylindrical bag. The test bag had to feature the necessary reinforcements to cope with the many associated stresses.
"Although Structure-flex’s expertise is based around the manufacture and supply of FIBCs, the company’s knowledge allows it to accept and successfully complete bespoke projects such as these," comments Matt Doughty, Structure-flex’s Head of Sales and Marketing.