Chapman Marine specializes in underwater inspections of critical infrastructure such as dams, power plants, and raw water intakes. Their primary goal is to identify and address issues before they escalate, ensuring the safety and reliability of these structures. Prior to incorporating ROVs, the company primarily relied on dive teams to gather critical information about underwater conditions. Now, they bring their Deep Trekker DTG3 and PIVOT ROVs to every job.
Chapman Marine Inc., one of Texas’ trusted commercial dive and underwater construction companies, has revolutionized the field of underwater inspections by incorporating Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) into their routine operations. In this case study, we will explore how Chapman Marine utilizes ROVs to enhance safety and efficiency during pre-job, routine, and emergency inspections. By doing so, they have not only reduced costs but also improved the quality of deliverables and safety for their team and customers.
Philip Wolfe, General Manager at Chapman Marine, highlighted a recurring challenge in their operations: "We get the information that there's a problem down there, we know we've got an issue, but we don't know what it is."
Often, their team receives limited information about underwater issues, making it difficult to assess risks accurately. This lack of clarity poses a significant safety hazard for divers. Ultimately, the ROVs are much faster, safer, and easier to deploy than a diver.
Deep Trekker DTG3 ROV and tether reel package
Before diving into the water, the team uses the limited information received from the customer to develop an initial understanding of the situation. This helps them gauge the safety risks involved.
“We use the ROVs to develop an understanding before we put divers in, to help us understand the safety risk before getting in the water,” Wolfe explains.
ROVs are deployed for routine inspections, especially in confined spaces or areas requiring penetration. These inspections are completed in a fraction of the time it would take a dive crew, saving both time and resources.
“In some circumstances,” says Wolfe, “we use the ROV as the primary solution for certain inspections in areas where there's confined space or where we have to go into pipes or something like that, where it would take an entire day and a large crew to load out just to do the inspection, and we can do it in a few hours with the ROV and get the information that we need.”
In emergency situations where immediate action is required, ROVs provide essential situational awareness. It’s dangerous to put divers into a situation where hazards aren’t entirely identified. Divers can be exposed to unknown dangers, making ROVs invaluable in understanding the situation better.
“We won't know all the safety issues. The ROVS help to develop the situation and we're often able to back off the urgency a little bit to say, ‘Here's the video. Here's what we understand. This is what we see is going on’. Then we pass that off to engineers, and make some recommendations so that they can develop that situation. So that's helpful for us and we're able to satisfy that gap in understanding in an emergency that often happens. It makes owners very uncomfortable, not knowing what's going on, and they want it fixed yesterday. So, it gives us some time to develop a better plan and then get out there and get after it.”
Wolfe explained their preference for ROVs over a tripod mounted sonar (the current standard in the Gulf of Mexico for the oil industry that's used offshore when mapping and inspecting underwater assets), emphasizing the quick access ROVs offered to inspection sites. Tripod mounted sonar systems, while capable of producing high-quality images, required additional equipment and were less versatile.
“So, that was why we went with the ROV versus just a tripod mounted sonar, because of its very quick access to the site, where the tripod mounted sonar requires additional equipment to get there because it's not mounted to anything. It's a tripod, you need a boat and crew, you drop it down, and it sits on the bottom. You get a beautiful picture, but to get that beautiful picture, you have to have all that other stuff, and you have to have access to that point,” Wolfe illustrated.
“The limitations of a tripod mounted sonar is that it's not attached to an ROV, that it's not a two-man crew, and you have to have a boat. If you want GPS, you have to have that receiver attached to a boat. You have to do all this setup, which any GPS is going to require. I can't take a tripod mounted sonar with two guys and go 400 feet away from the shoreline when there's an issue on an intake or a dam or something. We need to have a place to launch, and all of these things that require additional equipment - which we have, but, It takes longer, it's more expensive, and a lot of times we just don't have direct access to the water - unless you're bringing ladders or you're doing a heck of a lot of work to get down there. If you're gonna do all that work, you might as well put a diver in the water.”
Chapman Marine has experienced numerous benefits since incorporating ROVs into their operations:
ROVs significantly reduce the risks associated with underwater inspections. Divers are no longer exposed to unidentified hazards, ensuring the overall safety of the team. “Anytime a diver enters without visibility, they are exposed to a risk that they don’t need to be if we run an ROV.”
Routine inspections that once took a full day to mobilize and deploy now require just a few hours with an ROV pilot, resulting in substantial time and cost savings.
ROVs provide high-quality video footage that can be shared directly with customers. This not only improves situational awareness but also allows customers to identify issues firsthand. “Visualization is the most important part of analysis,” explains Wolfe.
After every inspection, whether performed by ROVs or divers, Chapman Marine produces comprehensive reports with videos, pictures, and descriptions of the work performed, and issues recommendations.
“When you're looking at the reports that we're putting together, what is good to decision makers, you're talking about the highest echelon of whatever organization that we're working for, and sending them a link to a video. They're not watching the video. They want a one to two page report that has a picture with a description. When you look at the executive level of making decisions on a project that we're working on, that's the type of report that we put together. It needs to be simple and very clear: ‘Here is what it looks like. Here's what your problem is.’ It is very helpful that the ROVs make producing reports very easy.”
Chapman Marine recognizes the importance of involving their customers throughout the inspection process. By utilizing ROVs, they can have their customer's eyes directly on live ROV surveys, aiding in issue identification. This customer-centric approach improves communication and helps solve problems more effectively. Previously, they had divers entering low visibility environments with regular cameras, or describing the situation for post inspection with hand drawings.
“The customer knows the original problem better than the divers. With an ROV video, we can have their eyes directly on the live ROV survey and can better identify issues rather than relying on diver descriptions. With ROVs we can get there fast, get the information, and get it in front of more eyes, quicker, to better solve the problem.”
transforming their approach to safety, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. ROVs have become indispensable tools that not only reduce costs but also enhance the quality of deliverables and the overall safety of their team. As Philip Wolfe succinctly puts it, "It's all about how to tell the customer what is happening," and ROVs have become their most valuable means of communication in the underwater inspection field.
When asked what he likes most about utilizing the Deep Trekker ROVs:
“Previous ROVs we have used required a lot of set up and programming that we just don’t have time for. With a Deep Trekker, I can plug it in and it’s ready to go, you do all the updates, and I can give it to somebody, give them some training, and then they can go out and execute.”
It's not a science project every time we try to pass it off to somebody.
So that's really what I'm looking for. I don't need a project. I've got enough projects. I just need something where I can take this and put it in the water now. I understand it takes work, there's a little bit of work, like building a report takes work, but there's different levels of work and there's a threshold at which I'm willing to go up to. But once it surpasses that threshold, it's just too much for us because it's too time consuming," explains Wolfe.
When asked why he stays with Deep Trekker:
“So, I will tell you, customer service for me is big. We're willing to pay a little bit more to have customer service because, in the end, that means saving time and money for us when we run into an issue - and that goes across everything that we do, whether we're buying a new engine for our boats, or whatever it is. We changed manufacturers for all the motors on our boats because there wasn't service for them. They're great motors, but no service doesn't help us. That's important, and I do like the updates. Deep Trekker just adds some additional capability to the ROV that you already have, to increase the functionality of the system. It’s awesome.”
From left to right: DTG3, PHOTON, PIVOT, REVOLUTION
Deep Trekker ROVs present the ideal solution for conducting inspections of dams, infrastructure, and intake systems. Their compact and portable design makes them exceptionally well-suited for navigating confined spaces, ensuring versatility in your operations.
Equipped with long-lasting battery life and offering hybrid power options, Deep Trekker ROVs provide the endurance needed for extensive inspections. With a variety of tether options available, extending up to 500 meters, these ROVs offer flexibility in reaching various depths.
The intuitive BRIDGE controller enhances their capabilities and facilitates seamless integration with advanced modular add-ons, widening the spectrum of applications that can benefit from ROV inspections. The utility of Deep Trekker ROVs extends far beyond, encompassing a wide range of industries and inspection needs.
The DTG3 tands as a versatile, cost-effective observation-class ROV, engineered for swift deployment and dependable underwater inspections, even at depths reaching 200 meters (656 feet). Its primary feature is a full HD panning camera boasting a comprehensive 270° view range, perfectly suited for thorough assessments, especially in confined areas.
The DTG3 offers a range of tether options, extending up to 500 meters (1,640 feet), thereby augmenting its versatility for a wide array of applications. Its durability is assured by a robust anodized machined aluminum body, meticulously designed to withstand the most challenging underwater conditions. Additionally, the DTG3 boasts adaptability through industry-specific modular enhancements, such as grabber claws and water samplers, making it an adaptable tool for various tasks.
The PHOTON takes the concept of a portable "suitcase" ROV to a whole new level, weighing in at under 10 kg. Constructed from industrial-grade materials like carbon fiber and anodized aluminum, and featuring magnetically coupled drives, stainless steel components, and an acrylic lens cover, this micro ROV is built to withstand the harshest conditions, solidifying its reputation as the toughest micro ROV available.
Powered by Deep Trekker's BRIDGE technology, the PHOTON offers users a lightweight option with advanced inspection capabilities. Equipped with a rotating enhanced 4K camera and a six-thruster design for precise maneuverability, this ROV boasts the ability to expand its capabilities with additional tools and sensors, including sonar, DVL, and USBL. These features combine to make the PHOTON an ideal choice for any ROV inspection operation.
The PIVOT ROV offers users an unparalleled combination of stability, speed, and precise control, courtesy of its six robust thrusters. Designed for ultimate portability, this ROV is powered by lithium-ion batteries, ensuring you can take it anywhere your underwater exploration leads you.
Equipped with an enhanced 4K camera boasting a wide 220° field of view, the PIVOT provides exceptional visual coverage. With a depth rating of up to 305 meters (1000 feet) and super-bright LED floodlights, it ensures clear visibility even in challenging underwater environments.
The PIVOT is constructed to endure the rigors of underwater exploration, featuring a robust build comprising anodized machined aluminum, carbon fiber, and stainless steel components. BRIDGE technology empowers the PIVOT with enhanced capabilities and seamless integration with a variety of add-ons and sensors, including sonar, USBL, and DVL systems. The PIVOT stands as a testament to precision, durability, and versatility in underwater exploration.
The REVOLUTION ROV emerges as the pinnacle of intuitive and stable underwater exploration, tailored for intricate missions beneath the waves. Unleash its potential with field-swappable lithium-ion batteries, providing extended portability to tackle even the most ambitious tasks.
With six powerful vectored thrusters at its disposal, the REVOLUTION offers unparalleled control and station holding capabilities, ensuring precise maneuvering in challenging underwater environments. Its advanced features include an enhanced 4K camera boasting an impressive 260° field of view, an exceptional 305-meter (1000-foot) depth rating, super-bright LED floodlights, and tether options stretching up to 500 meters (1,640 feet).
What truly sets the REVOLUTION apart is its integration with BRIDGE technology, enabling seamless incorporation of add-ons and sensors, such as sonar, USBL, and DVL systems. The REVOLUTION is your partner in achieving excellence in complex underwater missions, combining intuitive operation with cutting-edge capabilities.
Our team comprises seasoned industry experts, ready to provide expert guidance and address any inquiries you may have regarding the integration of submersible robots into your operational processes. Whether your project encompasses a wide spectrum of tasks including dam or infrastructure inspections, water tank inspections and cleaning, salvage operations, underwater inspections, search and recovery missions, aquaculture initiatives, environmental monitoring, or any other specialized application, we are fully equipped to assist you in comprehending how our ROVs seamlessly align with and meet your unique requirements.
When you're ready to secure your very own Deep Trekker vehicle, feel free to contact us, and we'll be happy to provide you with a customized quote tailored precisely to your needs. With Deep Trekker ROVs as part of your salvage diving operations, you can achieve unparalleled safety, efficiency, and success in your underwater recovery efforts.
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