Pioneering SME: Periplus
Periplus has developed software to process the enormous bulk of seabed data, enabling the offshore wind industry to work more safely, efficiently and cheaper. And what's more: being able to communicate clearly and comprehensively about it. With the brand-new package GR:Dit many more smart applications can be implemented. An interview with Bart van Mierlo from Periplus.
For which problem did you find a solution?
“Huge amounts of seabed data that are being collected, are not being used sufficiently. The overview and relationship are often missing. Usually, all historical data are stored in a report per project. Survey contractors carry out similar research for each project. Inefficient and expensive. Cable laying companies run unnecessary risks if they do not know whether there are already pipelines or wrecks, or whether the soil is subject to erosion. While that data are there, somewhere. With our data platform, we can uncover all fragmented data and create relationships.”
What is the core of your solution?
“We initially started with an application to visualize data without a drawing department. However, we have reversed that process: we start thinking from the data themselves to be able to add other and smarter functionalities. We have engaged a system architect who has designed a scalable data platform as the basis for all kind of functions. We do not conduct research ourselves. We collect public, often historical, data and store it in a database together with the data of the client. This varies from geological, hydrographic and morphological data to flow and wave data, wrecks and UXO’s. Our specialists validate the quality and mutual comparability of the data. We develop calculation and prediction models to visualize all this data and to be able to apply it smartly. In addition to a digital archive, the platform acts as a communication platform."
What is so pioneering about your solution?
“The database is stored in the Cloud and therefore accessible for everyone via internet. Such a data platform simply does not exist yet, not in this area. Everyone offers data but that is neither coordinated nor synchronized. You do not know what is true and what is not. The Cloud technology is relatively new and our statistical approach with algorithms and prediction models is very specialized work. We are hydrographically /geologically oriented, but the most diverse data on morphology, erosion, currents and waves can be stored."
What are the benefits?
“Our software provides an immediate answer to the question at which location a contractor can dig, what the soil conditions are, now and in the future. Historical data are valuable. Geology does not change that much. However, by monitoring the changes of the bathymetry over time you can make predictions about the dynamic behaviour of the surface soil. This reduces the risk for unexpected cable and monopile maintenance and repairs.
Our data platform also improves safety. If you know where a cable, pipe or wreck is, you can prevent damage. For example, when clearing the 342 containers that were knocked overboard from the MSC Zoe at Terschelling in January this year, we were asked to collect historical data on the presence of pipelines, cables and wrecks. Coincidentally, we knew that a new cable had just been laid that had not yet been stored in any database. That information has prevented a lot of misery.
In addition, our customers can work more efficiently and save on costs. For example, RVO has had the area accurately mapped for the Borssele wind farm. Later, TenneT had similar studies carried out for laying the cables in the same area. I don't understand this; they are both government agencies. It is important that everyone works with the same information. Through the GR:Dit data platform our customers can communicate with each other internally and to their clients and suppliers in an understandable and uniform manner. And feel confident about the reliability of the available data.
Our data platform is independent of specialists. You are no longer dependent on the one person who happens to know. You do not have to go to the GIS-department with a specific question. Everyone, including governments where the fundamental knowledge is largely lacking, can quickly print a map that answers their questions. We increase flexibility."
What are your challenges?
“We need to convince our customers what the importance of digitizing data and reports is. Collecting and processing fragmented data into an indispensable source of information is apparently not important enough yet. The sector is gradually beginning to see that it has added value, but it is difficult to quantify and make it specific enough. It would help if the government made the supply of certain data compulsory, like for archaeological zones.”
How far are you now?
“We recently delivered the GR:Dit data platform and transferred our launching customers, such as Norther, Gemini and DWT to this new platform. With this software we can implement many more smart applications for our customers; in addition to store and the visualization of data, dashboards, and management reports for different levels can be generated. For instance, it allows us to apply very detailed colours in geological profiles. This is very relevant for cable-layers. Which tools we will develop, depends on the needs of our customers. Do they want a personalized dashboard, a graphical overview of Scada-data or a Search & Rescue module to locate people who have been discarded? We can come up with all kinds of functionalities ourselves, but ultimately it is about which data and which functions have priority for our customers.”
What are the benefits of Offshore Wind Innovators?
“We are making huge investments. It is fantastic that there is an organization where you can go to if you get stuck. Of course, it's your own responsibility. Innovation manager, Martin Weissmann acts as a sounding board for us, someone who can zoom out and ask critical questions. So that you have something to think about in the traffic jam."
This article has been prepared in cooperation with the Offshore Wind Innovators.
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