Pile upending tools set to work on Rampion construction

Houlder has successfully delivered the first of two offshore Pile Upending Tools for the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm construction, off the Sussex coast.

The specialist marine supplier is leasing the innovative handling equipment  to the Rampion project being developed by E.ON, the UK Green Investment Bank and Canadian energy company Enbridge.Ltd, Through wireless auto-engagement, the tools help reduce crane times and installation costs while keeping personnel away from hazardous deck locations.  They are also the optimal solution where the lifting point overhangs the deck or is otherwise out of reach.

The remote controlled hook-up and release system engages directly with the foundation pile flanges. It is a self-contained system with rechargeable hydraulic and electric supplies. Recharging is carried out at a deck-mounted docking station, avoiding the need for additional umbilical connections or power lines during lifting operations.

Andy Lovell (pictured), the Project Director explains “The pile upending tools are compatible with 855t 5m diameter piles. These are not small pieces of equipment and handling them offshore, let alone upending them from 0 to 90 degrees, is one of the riskiest operations during wind farm construction. Our tool needed to be incredibly robust, but also lightweight enough to ensure easy integration with existing craneage. Some very ingenious design work has gone into the steel structure and hydraulics. It also goes without saying the control system needed to be simple to use but also provide complete fail safety.”

Pile Upending Tools Project Director, Andy Lovell

“By working with E.ON and the Rampion project so closely,” adds James A. Russell, Houlder Marine Equipment Director, “Houlder is playing a key role in developing UK offshore wind infrastructure – providing a fantastic opportunity to innovate. We can do this because our engineers have practical hands on experience of offshore construction. Our work is not theoretical and this feeds into our equipment designs including the Rampion pile upending tools. We supply on a completely turnkey basis on both our purchase and rental contracts. Customers experience a seamless design, fabrication and installation service. When requested we also offer training, maintenance and emergency call-out services.”

The first of the tools was installed on the MPI Discovery in January 2016. The second will be delivered to the Pacific Orca installation vessel later in the year alongside other Houlder handling equipment currently in development.

The Rampion Offshore Wind development is due to be completed in 2018.


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