Since 2010, diving systems featuring programmable logic controllers (PLCs) have undergone rapid development. With use of these systems set to continue to rise, the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) has taken the initiative to future-proof by organising a workshop in Amsterdam on 11 March 2015 to discuss the big issues.
“The workshop will be a great opportunity for members using PLCs in diving systems to get involved, it could shape future guidance,” explains Jane Bugler, IMCA’s Technical Director. “PLCs are digital computers used for the automation of industrial processes. Since the mid 1980s industry has placed increasing reliance on programmable safety-related systems and PLCs are now used in many industries including the offshore oil and gas industry.
“For example, they may be found in vessel DP systems, drilling machinery, offshore cranes and offshore diving systems. They have been used in the past to control bell mating and launch and recovery systems, but are now being found in almost every aspect of some saturation diving systems, including dive control, life support systems, and chamber environments.
“It is clear that in the future the use of PLCs in dive systems and the number of dive systems reliant on them is only going to increase – yet the diving industry as a whole knows little about the implications and impact these developments may have. It appears that most of the information and operational experience is held by just a few companies, and there seems to be very little guidance available about how they work, how to audit/monitor the systems and the consequences of failure. Recent incidents have only emphasised this point - hence the need for our March workshop.”
The workshop has seven key aims:
- To bring together experts in the design and operation of PLC-based diving systems.
- To assess the impact of the use of PLCs in diving systems.
- To discuss the training and development needs of staff working with PLC-based diving systems.
- To consider how best to monitor, audit and maintain PLC-based diving systems.
- To share experiences to date.
- To evaluate the need for more industry guidance on the subject.
- To share knowledge and establish a way forward.
The day-long workshop will be free to attend, but delegates, and those wanting to be involved in any way, should register their interest in advance here.