By Jehan Zouak
From having to share vessel time with others to competing for survey contracts, Part 2 of our series on survey productivity presents three more situations that might sound familiar to you.Read more
You have been tasked with surveying a large area within your nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone. The objective is to update seabed charts to aid your nation’s fishing industry by mapping natural habitat areas for certain species of shellfish and crustaceans. The schedule is tight, but your team is experienced and efficient, so you think you will be able to get the data quality you require and still complete the survey on time. Two days before the survey is scheduled to begin, you learn that a team of researchers are in need of vessel time to complete a study and have received approval to join the expedition. You feel the pressure from this wrench thrown into your plan.
Your survey team needs to maintain high productivity in order to map the seafloor over such a large area, and planned to stop only every four hours for an SV profile, which is the maximum acceptable interval when conducting hydrographic surveys according to your organization’s Standard Operating Procedure. However, the research team is collecting oceanographic data to contribute to a study of current and tidal mixing in continental shelf areas. Their need is for much higher density of vertical CTD, Turbidity, and DO samples, which will require more frequent profiles than originally planned.
After much discussion, a compromise is reached: Both parties agree to stop the vessel every two hours. However, the deployment and recovery of the SVP and then the scientific profiler was a time consuming exercise, further affecting productivity. The end result is that neither party fully achieved their objectives. It was not possible to map the entire seabed area defined beforehand, and the research team had insufficient data to draw credible and conclusive results for their study.
Sound familiar? With a Moving Vessel Profiler (MVP), you would have been able to collect data continuously for all the required parameters, without stopping the vessel. No heated discussions, no grey hair-inducing stress, just high density hydrographic and ocean science data collection.
Your country’s navy is planning to move combatant ships into contested water space. Your survey team is tasked with steaming ahead with three vessels to map the area of operations to ensure safe navigation. The combatant vessels must be in place by a certain deadline, yet for safety reasons, they cannot move into the area until the survey is completed. They are counting on you.
On arrival, it is discovered that the sound speed structure of the water in this area is highly variable and unpredictable. Time is of the essence, so waiting in the hopes that the conditions might stabilize is not an option. Due to the nature of the mission, high quality survey data is of the utmost importance, so your team starts to deploy XBTs, which allows you to keep the vessels moving at all times, while collecting data and computing SV frequently. With limited stock of XBT, your team must carefully ration their usage.
Over a hundred thousand dollars worth of XBTs later, the survey is complete. With the data you provided in hand, the combatant ships move into the area.
With an MVP, you can be confident in your ability to deliver top quality results within the allotted time regardless of the oceanographic conditions. You also won’t have to explain to your superiors how you wiped out your supply of XBTs within one survey. In fact, your vessels will no longer require an XBT inventory.
The industry you serve is experiencing a downturn, which means your vessels are sitting idle more often than they are out in the field working. Your competitors are in the same boat (pun intended), so competition for available contracts is fierce.
More and more clients are demanding fixed price contracts with limited profit margin, such as cost +10%. It is more important than ever to provide customers with high quality data in a highly efficient manner.
This environment has proven to be a recipe for disaster. In your effort to win tenders, you are forced to estimate time and cost based on stable oceanographic conditions, under which you can reasonably expect to efficiently produce results of sufficient quality. Unfortunately, conditions are rarely entirely stable and you have more than once disappointed both your customer, who received sub-standard data, later than contracted, and your boss who must absorb another net loss instead of profits. The unhappy customer seeks greener pastures with the competition down the road, and your company forecast gets cloudier still.
To gain an edge on your competitors, survey with an MVP. When you can collect data continuously and in real time, conditions are irrelevant. When your customers can rely on you to deliver high quality data in a timely manner and at a reasonable price, you can rely on your customers to bring their business to you.