Everyday Ampelmann is active all over the world, ensuring our customers’ people can walk to work safely. With a track record of more than 3 million safe transfers and 200 projects worldwide, we have an established presence in every major oil, gas and offshore wind market. Our team spirit, coupled with an ambitious development plan and a strong focus on innovation, helps us with setting new standards and serving our clients with the safest and most cost effective offshore access solutions for both people and cargo transfers.
During an offshore wind conference in Berlin, the concept of the Ampelmann system was conceived. A flight simulator upside down, capable of compensating all six degrees of freedom of a vessel and making transferring offshore much safer. The code name Ampelmann was born to illustrate that the system should enable ‘Offshore access as easy as crossing the street’.
The first research thesis was started at the Delft University of Technology to look into the possibilities of such an inventive idea.
After researching the subject a patent was filed on the Ampelmann system. The invention was presented at the European Wind Energy Conference in London.
The next step in system development was to test the functionality of a scaled system. Dry tests were conducted by putting two hexapods (the assembly of two frames and six cylinders) on top of each other, in which the top hexapod could compensate the motions generated by the lower system.
The next step was a wet test: the scale model was mounted on a rowing boat in a tank facility at Civil Engineering in Delft where the compensating technology was put to the test and succeeded.
After successful scale tests, the start of the full-scale prototype started. An ambitious goal was set: design and construct a completely new system from scratch while getting it offshore proof, tested and certified. And do that within a year with 5 engineers!
The prototype, called the Demonstrator, was tested onshore and shown to the public in the home town Delft in the summer. Later that year the system was fully tested onshore and in the port.
At the end of the year the system reached its major goal: the first ever offshore transfers were made on the North Sea using an Ampelmann. The company was established to bring the new successful innovation to the market.
Preparations were made for the first commercial job: supplying safe offshore transfers to the P-14A platform in the North Sea, which was decommissioned by the Smit Taklift 4. The first ever project was successfully concluded and plans were made to implement improvements in the next system. The construction of the A-02 was started by the end of the year.
The production facilities were housed in the RDM in Rotterdam Harbour. The new A-02 was launched during the year and the Demonstrator was upgraded and was named the A-01.
The prime minister of the Netherlands transfers used the system and Ampelmann received national news coverage. Multiple projects and offshore tests were done during the year. The workforce expanded to about 10 people.
The company was growing rapidly. The A-03 and A-04 were added to the fleet and systems were operational around the world.
Next to adding another four systems to the fleet, a number of innovations were added: an improved gangway was built with an extended length of 25 meters. A KIB system was launched to transfer cargo up to 100kg, reducing the need for a platform crane. With 100.000 safe transfers reached this year Walk to Work was becoming more and more a standard way of transferring people offshore.
Following client demands, a larger system was constructed: the E-type is a scaled up version of the A-type. It has 3m stroke cylinders (instead of 2m) and is capable of working in higher sea states and compensating 100t on top of the system.
This was put to the test when the world’s first fully motion compensated crane (Cargo Transfer System) was tested offshore. Other activities were testing wirelining from a vessel instead of from a platform and developing a system to transfer LNG offshore, vessel to vessel.
The manufacturing of new Ampelmann systems is ramped up. To support further growth and international expension, Ampelmann recognized the need for a strong partner. IK Investment joined the company as the main shareholder. With their help, further expansion of the fleet was achieved by acquiring another Dutch offshore access specialist called Offshore Solutions.
Their fleet of O-types was incorporated with a very strong track record in providing a 24/7 connection to a platform. A smaller, electric system called the L-type was also being developed. This system can be installed on smaller vessels, aiming for the crew change market.
Ampelmann is expanding around the globe, in order to be where the clients are. The first office abroad is opened in Singapore. After tests in 2012, the Cargo Transfer System is fully redesigned and successfully transfers 5t to an offshore platform in the Netherlands.
An improved L-type system (system for small crew vessels) is launched and tested in Brunei. The fact that motion compensation is key in increasing efficiency and safety is demonstrated by the motion compensated lifeboat exchange in the UK sector; a project called Atlas.
The demand for offshore access continues to grow both in offshore wind and the oil and gas sector. Safe offshore access is well accepted, which is demonstrated by one million transfers being reached in January. Later that year that was even doubled to two million.
Offices around the world are being opened in Brunei, Houston, Rio de Janeiro, Aberdeen and Doha. The new production facility is opened in Rotterdam, in the former navy submarine yard (Onderzeebootloods).
A fully winterised gangway is designed to work in the cold climate conditions of Sakhalin for SEIC. The system is build and tested by the end of this year. Further penetration of the cargo market is done with the E1000, a fully compensated gangway able to transfer people and hoist cargo up to 1 ton, making it the Swiss army knife for offshore maintenance campaigns. A promising improved L-type is being conceived on the drawing board, making the system smaller, lighter and improved workability. Finally, a move to a new office location that matches the young and innovative spirit of the company.
Ampelmann has reached a new milestone: 3 million people have safely crossed our gangway to an oil or gas platform, offshore wind turbine or to another vessel! The three millionth safe transfer took place on MV Island Condor, owned by Island Offshore, for Perenco UK in the Southern North Sea (SNS).
Ampelmann is celebrating its ten year anniversary. In just a decade, Ampelmann grew from a team of just four people to a 350 staff member organisation that services customers across the globe from offices in eight different countries.