What is Best For You: ROV Ownership vs. Servicing

Commercial / Salvage, Infrastructure, Marine Survey / Shipping, Tutorials and Tips

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If your project is underwater, be it a dam, offshore drilling platform or jurisdiction for search and rescue, one of the most important decisions you will make is how you will get eyes and hands underwater.  There are three main options; divers, purchasing ROV(s) and renting or hiring a ROV service company.

ROVs are often a more cost effective route regardless of ownership status because there are no human lives to insure entering the water.  Divers are still the best option for more intricate construction tasks like welding, but for the purposes of this article, you have now decided that you need a ROV to come do the work.

There are many situations where both owning and contracting out come in handy and there is plenty of room for both ROV manufacturers and servicing operators to co-exist and thrive.  When do you want to own a ROV and when do you hire it out?

Owning a ROV

Pros

Let’s look at the option of owning a ROV.  Having a ROV on staff gives you the convenience of looking at your project at any time.  Need to see if something is blocking the intake of your dam? Get your ROV in the water.  An investigation reveals that a criminal may have thrown evidence in the water? Move your ROV in and retrieve the evidence.  There is no waiting on other companies’ schedules, get the job done now.  Some ROVs can be deployed in 30 seconds or less!

The other convenience is the control you gain.  The servicing company does not know your structure or project as well as you know it and they can only make so many assumptions or executive decisions while on scene.  You may have needed to get in for a few minutes more of evaluation of a certain spot but the team has already left and you do not want to pay for them to come back.

No matter what, you are going to have to invest some money into the ability to see underwater.  It is not an easy task to perform an underwater inspection with no equipment.  The investment is going to be made regardless at this point.  Purchasing a ROV instead of paying for a service creates an asset on your balance sheet instead of an expense on your income statement.

There is also the future to think about.  You have an inspection in the next couple weeks that you have started to think about but how many more are you going to be in the same situation for?  Paying the one time cost may pay dividends in just two or three inspections.

Cons

ROV training time must be taken into consideration.  Some ROVs, such as Deep Trekker ROVs, only take a few hours to fully master driving.  Others require formal training and weeks of practice.  If you are not frequently needing inspections performed, you may not want to have to worry about getting your staff trained.

Many ROVs require general maintenance.  This is something you may not want to even think about or are technically inclined enough to handle.  There are options for ROVs that are built from tough, salt water resistant materials such as cast aluminum and acrylic that require little maintenance.

The upfront cost of a ROV is usually more than a single inspection, so it depends on the frequency of inspections that you require.  Weigh the cost of the inspections long term.

Contracting a ROV

Pros

With ROVs, you never have to worry about training, maintenance or the upfront cost.  The ROV Service is likely to be more experienced with their ROV.

If you have a single inspection every 18 months, you can schedule with your servicing company to send you the video and let you know the results, put it out of your mind and not think about it.

Cons

“If I want something done right I’ll just do it myself.”  If you want control over your project, contracting out your inspections means giving up control for everything that is submerged.  This may mean things get missed or something that was extra important to you to have done perfectly is only done to a satisfactory level.

Another problem with services is that there is no tangible asset once you are done with them.  You pay the fee and it has resulted in no financial reciprocation back to you.  The investment is sunk and is added to the expense ledger.

Finally, contracted services add up over time.  Every time you have a service performed for you, there’s a bill attached to it.  Paying for a ROV means that these bills are minimized or eradicated.

Trying to figure out what is best for you?  Deep Trekker offers new and rental ROVs and our senior staff members have years of experience in finding solutions for your project.  Tell us about your underwater project today!

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