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How Commercial Diving Companies and Divers Can Benefit from an ROV

Riley Kooh   |   November 1, 2022

What are Underwater ROVs?

Underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are fully submersible unmanned drones that operate via battery or direct power, and are piloted through a communication tether to a topside control station. Outfitted with high definition camera systems, grabber arms, imaging sonar, samplers, and more, these vehicles are incredibly versatile devices that can be used in a wide array of industries. Depending on the scale of the task at hand, there are different ROV ‘classes’ that break down the size and capabilities of each.

Work Class ROV

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The largest of its kind, a work class ROV is a massive vehicle capable of working at depths over 20,000ft. These vehicles require a heavy lift system for deployment into the water, and are generally equipped with multi-function manipulators to complete complex tasks underwater. Their size and power makes it possible for them to retrieve, deploy, or adjust large objects. Work class ROVs are most commonly used for offshore drilling, construction, or pipeline inspection.

Light-Work Class ROV

DESCRIPTION HERE In an effort to bridge the gap between work and observation class ROVs, light-work class ROVs are very similar in design and functionality to their work class counterparts, just toned down slightly. When offshore work doesn’t require the deepest depths or largest payloads, light-work class ROVs act as a slightly smaller and more affordable alternative, although a mechanical lift will still be required for deployment.

Observation Class ROV

DESCRIPTION HERE An observation class ROV is drastically smaller in size than either of the work class options. Capable of being deployed by hand, these vehicles are adept for inspections where portability is favored over work capabilities. Operating on either battery or direct power hookups, these vehicles can still perform mild mechanical work, yet are oftentimes portable enough to be transported via commercial airlines.

Micro ROV

The micro or mini ROV is the smallest class of ROVs, and are generally used strictly for visual inspections in low-current environments. These vehicles can generally be one-hand carried, and can be deployed in seconds to get basic underwater visuals of submerged assets.

Interested in learning more? Click here for more information on underwater ROVs

9 Applications of ROVs for Commercial Dive Companies

It is a common misconception that ROVs are seeking to replace divers. Most work conditions still require the precise touch of a commercial diver, so where do observation class ROVs fit into the equation? Rather than seek to perform the actions of divers, portable ROV systems are an excellent addition to quickly gain underwater awareness of a job site. This can be for quoting jobs, pre-dive safety checks, reaching dangerous areas, monitoring divers in the water, recording a post-dive summary, etc..

Nine of the most common sample applications include:

  1. Water Tank and Tower Inspections
  2. Ship Hull Inspections
  3. Hydro Dams & Intake Gate Inspections
  4. Power Plant Inspections
  5. Offshore Oil Platform Inspections
  6. Emergency Response
  7. Salvage and Shipwreck Hunting
  8. Fish Farm Inspections
  9. Pipe Inspections

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The Advantages of Using ROVs for Commercial Divers and Companies

Pre Dive Checks

Diving is inherently dangerous, no matter the situation. Human safety is paramount in any mission. Before sending a human under the water, an ROV can conduct a safety survey to ensure that the job is safe for a diver. Using the underwater drone dive teams can accurately and efficiently check for any underwater risks. Protruding branches or wires that divers could get snagged on can be identified in advance to prevent incidents. Varying water conditions or other nearby hazards can be spotted easily, allowing teams to enter the water prepared. DESCRIPTION HERE Furthermore, the ROV pre-check provides users with a lay of the land. Divers can get their bearings before they even enter the water. Operators can also look for potentially hazardous or confined spaces to avoid or plan for. Deep Trekker’s battery powered and easily deployed ROVs are quick and easy to use - providing dive teams with a reliable way to confirm the safety of their mission.

Accurately Quote Contracts

An ROV pre-check enables dive teams to fully examine the upcoming mission. Before a diver even dips a toe in the water, the ROV can be deployed to identify the area that needs to be worked on. The scope of the task can be fully understood, including personnel required, equipment, time, etc. By employing the ROV, teams are able to adequately prepare and schedule for the job. By gathering a complete understanding of the task at hand, dive teams are well-equipped to provide clients with reliable information and accurate quotes to ensure exceptional service.

Inspecting Confined or Hazardous Areas

While ROVs don’t seek to replace the complex work capabilities of dive teams, they can be an extremely valuable tool for visual inspections or retrievals of dangerous sites. Differential pressure or gear malfunctions in confined spaces are two of the leading causes of commercial diving fatalities. Areas like pipelines, water tanks, aquaculture netting, hydro dams, etc., all present substantial risk to the divers. Having an observation or micro class ROV on deck, teams can quickly deploy the unit into these hazardous areas for HD recordings without any risk or added precautions.

Dive Monitoring

DESCRIPTION HERE

Diver safety can be optimized with the use of an ROV during the dive as well. By monitoring divers from the topside, operators can ensure safety and security for divers. Those topside can ensure that divers are safe and follow safety protocols. Real-time video observation allows any issues to be caught immediately with immediate emergency assistance if necessary. Whether open water or confined spaces, real time monitoring is incredibly beneficial for scuba diving safety.

Post-Dive Evaluations

Operating an underwater robot from topside also allows for the dive to be accurately recorded for later review. Recording underwater dive operations in 4K UHD provides value to both divers and their clients.

Commercial diving companies can show the video to their clients to demonstrate their valuable and important work. Recorded video also provides concrete proof of the work completed, work that can otherwise be difficult to demonstrate. Add value to your business by providing high quality service reports.

Divers can also evaluate dives to determine where operations and efficiency could be improved in order to maximize their job performance. Recorded videos can be used for training purposes at both dive centers and commercial diving companies to demonstrate specific diving procedures for students.

Companies can also use the video recorded from the ROV to create a historical directory of diving content for marketing, documentation and review purposes.

Enhance Learning

Diver safety can be optimized with the use of an ROV during the dive as well. By monitoring divers from the topside, operators can ensure safety and security for divers. Those topside can ensure that divers are safe and follow safety protocols. Real-time video observation allows any issues to be caught immediately with immediate emergency assistance if necessary. Whether open water or confined spaces, real time monitoring is incredibly beneficial for scuba diving safety.

Post-Dive Evaluations

Operating an underwater robot from topside also allows for the dive to be accurately recorded for later review. Recording underwater dive operations in 4K UHD provides value to both divers and their clients.

Commercial diving companies can show the video to their clients to demonstrate their valuable and important work. Recorded video also provides concrete proof of the work completed, work that can otherwise be difficult to demonstrate. Add value to your business by providing high quality service reports.

Divers can also evaluate dives to determine where operations and efficiency could be improved in order to maximize their job performance. Recorded videos can be used for training purposes at both dive centers and commercial diving companies to demonstrate specific diving procedures for students.

Companies can also use the video recorded from the ROV to create a historical directory of diving content for marketing, documentation and review purposes.

Enhance Learning

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Diver education is absolutely paramount when it comes to safety, making the use of an underwater ROV to enhance diver training incredibly relevant. By using an ROV to capture underwater footage of previous dives, students can improve their knowledge retention and gain experience through firsthand footage. Adding an ROV to open water dive training furthers safety by allowing crew onboard the vessel to monitor what is taking place underwater. Instructors can also bring the ROV underwater with them during both confined and open water dives to capture footage of their divers for feedback and corrective suggestions.

The Takeaway? Safer, More Economical Services and Expanded Revenue Streams

Keeping a portable ROV on hand provides dive teams with all the benefits mentioned above, including safer operation, faster inspections, smaller teams, and more thorough/tangible recordings inclusive of dangerous areas. Completing jobs quicker and/or with smaller teams empowers dive companies to complete more efficient work at lower costs, providing a competitive edge in the market. Additionally, customers may find the added capabilities of underwater drone recordings appealing, resulting in won contracts.

Case Study: How Ven-Tech Subsea Inspections Benefits from Using a ROV

Ven-Tech Subsea Inspections

Ven-Tech Subsea Inspections is a Canadian based commercial diving company, specializing in underwater inspections, underwater construction and marine maintenance/repair. Their team of professional divers provide underwater/marine construction, underwater civil engineering, salvage/recovery, underwater inspections and demolition services nationwide.

Their team performs tasks for clients with a very broad range of assets including; marinas, municipalities, oil and gas sector, wharfs, docks, potable water systems, seawater desalination plants, jetties, pontoons, bridges, walls and dams, pipelines, water tanks, mines, hulls of ships, underwater structures and eco marine environments.

Equipment Used

The DTG3 is a mini observation-class underwater ROV built to provide operators the ability to quickly deploy and visually inspect within underwater environments. Equipped with a camera and high efficiency LED lights, the battery powered vehicle is well suited to a variety of underwater tasks.

DESCRIPTION HERE

“The DTG3 has totally changed our day to day operations of our company,” exclaimed Dewald. “We have used the DTG3 for several jobs such as initial dive site inspections, potable water reservoir inspections, soil/water samples for analysis, and dive support for our commercial divers and our commercial diving projects. Everything about this unit has truly blown us away at Ven-Tech Subsea, it's truly a must have tool to add and to have for any commercial diving company.”

The DTG3 is well suited to working with commercial dive teams. From pre and post dive evaluations to dive monitoring to taking on jobs in dangerous conditions, the DTG3 is a versatile tool for divers.

“Before we had the DTG3 we were using a previous ROV that was extremely bulky, slow in the water and slow to deploy. It was hard to control and needed a minimum of 2 people to operate,” said Dewald. “The DTG3 solved all of these problems for us and allowed us to properly use a ROV. We use all of its advantages on a day-to-day basis, where in the past we only used our old ROV on special occasions because of all the downsides of using a unit of that size.”

Noted Benefits

“The DTG3 has increased safety for our employees and divers dramatically because we are able to splash the ROV and make sure the dive site is safe before splashing the diver,” explained Dewald. “This has allowed us to have a look at this site before splashing the Diver which allows us to see if it's safe and allows us to properly plan. The ROV has enabled us to make proper topside decisions before sending the diver in. This has also sped up our productivity and efficiency when completing a job.”

Diver safety is paramount. Utilizing the DTG3, the Ven-Tech Subsea Inspections team can ensure that dive sites are thoroughly vetted and deemed safe for human divers. In addition to inspecting sites and planning dives, the DTG3 can be used for visual inspection in situations where it is too dangerous for a person to enter the water. DESCRIPTION HERE “Obviously one of the big advantages with this ROV is that we are able to deploy it in almost any condition or environment,” Dewald said. “We can have it do an inspection in an area that would be dangerous to send a human being into such as deep water, pipe penetrations and hazardous environments that have Delta-P (differential pressure)in the area. The DTG3 totally takes the safety issue out of the equation.”

The DTG3 was designed to be portable and easy to deploy. At 8.5kg (18.7lbs) the ROV is easy to transport to a variety of jobs. Battery tubes under 100 whr also allow for transport on both passenger and cargo aircraft. This ease of transportation allows dive teams, like Ven-Tech Subsea Inspections, to maximize their travel budgets.

“Another thing that we really liked about the ROV is the fact that everything you need for the ROV fits in one pelican case for transport. This has saved us tremendously on long trips where we have to book flights and pay additional money for the additional cargo that we fly with. But with the DTG3 this has cut away that additional financial expense on extra cargo,” Dewald explained.

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The use of an ROV has also allowed the Ven-Tech Subsea Inspections team to maximize their budget in terms of employees needed on each job site. “We only have to send out one ROV pilot to do a job instead of the usual 2-3 man crew we sent out in the past with our old bulky ROV. This has saved a lot of money for our clients,” shared Dewald.

Finally, the quick deployment of the DTG3 allows the Ven-Tech Subsea Inspection team to make the most of their time to optimize efficiencies.“In the past it would have taken about 30 to 60 minutes to get a dive station set up and to get a diver in the water to do a quick inspection,” noted Dewald. “With the DTG3 we are able to deploy the ROV within two minutes which has saved so much time and money, not only for us but for our clients as well.”

How Deep Trekker ROVs can Improve Commercial Diving Operations

Deep Trekker offers three different ROVs. While all three are compatible with virtually any of the available add-ons, each vehicle varies in its payload capabilities, planes of movement, tool/camera functions, size, and performance through current.

Comparing Deep Trekker ROVs

*All packages come equipped with Buoyancy Weights, Chargers, Operator Manual
** No case or reel for the DTG3 Starter

DTG3

DESCRIPTION HERE The DTG3 is the ultimate in ROV portability. For a cost effective alternative to the PIVOT or REVOLUTION, the DTG3 provides the same exceptional Full HD (4K upgradable) camera in a durable yet lightweight 18lbs vehicle. Coming expedition ready right out of the box, you can deploy in under 30 seconds. With operating battery life of up to eight hours, the DTG3 is perfect for simple full-day missions.

REVOLUTION

DESCRIPTION HERE The REVOLUTION ROV is the most powerful, intelligent, and stable ROV in the Deep Trekker lineup. Its six vectored thrusters provide unmatched control in harsh underwater conditions, and when combined with its 305m depth rating, make it ideal for complex deep ocean missions. Because of its stable design and vertical thrusters which enable lateral movements, the REVOLUTION provides excellent performance with USBL and Sonar.

The integrated camera + grabber arm is capable of rotating up to 260 degrees. A favorite feature of many operators is the integration of different tools like imaging sonars into this platform. Unlike other ROVs which rely on adjusting the orientation of the vehicle, the REVOLUTION can sweep sonars, manipulator tools, thickness gauges, and more for the perfect approach angle without complicated control requirements.

PIVOT

DESCRIPTION HERE The perfect balance between size and power. The PIVOT maintains an impressive six thruster design powered by swappable lithium ion batteries, and 305m depth rating just like the REVOLUTION. Unlike the REVOLUTION, the PIVOT’s overall body size is 13.4% smaller, and cuts its weight down to 37lbs, compared to the REVOLUTION’s 57lbs.

The camera and tool platform on the PIVOT operate on separate rotating fields. With the camera being capable of rotating up to 220 degrees for a wide viewing range to complete a multitude of tasks. The 97 degree rotating tool platform gives pilots the advantage of flexible imaging options and convenient tool manipulation from a stable position. Due to its similarities in control and stability to the REVOLUTION, the PIVOT also provides excellent performance with USBLs, DVLs and Imaging Sonars.

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