The Covid-19 pandemic has been a curse of near biblical proportions, changing the way we live, work, and interact with each other. My heart goes out to the many people having to cope with loved ones in hospital, grieving the loss of their friends or family members, or being stricken with the virus themselves. I count myself exceedingly fortunate to have been spared the darker side of this grim situation so far, but the positive tone of my blog is not intended as disrespectful or ignorant to anybody who is struggling with the virus or its effects.
As mentioned in previous blogs, work has not stopped at 1CSI, we have been at full tilt towards our looming launch date, but in the ‘down time’ (normally filled with trips out, meals in restaurants, or evenings with friends) one positive aspect of lockdown is that I have found time to catch up on things I didn’t always have time for, such as my reading list!
Two books, which I found particularly compelling, presented related themes; James Lovelock’s Novacene and Yuval Harari’s Homo Deus. Both look forward with positive eyes to the advancement of science and technology in close conjunction with the development of the human species and the related moral and ethical considerations . These books gave me pause for reflection on my own career to date and where our latest efforts with 1CSI (and of the whole industry) might lead.
My interest and passion lies subsea, more specifically in subsea survey and inspection. Since my early years as a Royal Engineer diver I was fascinated by underwater themes in books and film. Jules Verne’s, ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea’ for the tale of human endeavour, via Jacques Cousteau’s glamorous adventures on the Calypso, to the One Atmosphere Newt Suit from the 1989 film ‘The Abyss’ (much to my envy, a friend of mine actually operated one of these ADS suits in the North Sea for Hess. He always said it was “the coolest job in the world”.)
After leaving the army in the early eighties I was keen to make my mark as a civilian diver so, to distinguish myself in a competitive marketplace, I invested in Non Destructive inspection training. I worked on a number of interesting projects including the installation of the Thames Barrier before the North Sea beckoned. While waiting to join a new diving company setting up in Aberdeen, I took a contract on a Nuclear plant in Switzerland inspecting primary cooling systems during their annual shutdown. One thing led to another and for the next few years, the German KWU (nuclear power industry) proved fascinating, enlightening and distracting, but I was keen to get back to my subsea roots.
When I arrived in Aberdeen in the early nineties, the subsea world was evolving at pace. In my new role, I was tasked to promote and deliver advanced ultrasonic inspection techniques (for topside & subsea use) that were crossing over from the nuclear industry, including Time of Flight Diffraction, invented by the UK Atomic Energy Authority.
Reliance on human intervention for subsea inspection had become a significant HSE factor and was stimulating the rapid development of tethered, remote underwater vehicles (ROVs). These vehicles quickly became more adaptive, dexterous, and sophisticated. As well as this, the functional boundary between ROV and AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles) was becoming increasingly blurred.
The speed of change was (and still is) accelerating, with academia and industry collaborating ever more closely to develop exciting new innovation. Herriot Watt’s Dolphin study and research has been the inspiration for breakthrough sonar sensor and imaging systems. Elsewhere, surface inspection techniques continue to be adapted to operate and add value underwater, including gems like CT (Computerised Tomography), DR (Digital Radiography), UT (Ultrasonic) and SLAM (Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping) technologies. In short, a thrilling array of evolving techniques. The future will lie in unlocking subsea wireless functionality and data transmission, and it’s coming sooner than we think.
Beyond that, the exponential growth of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning (returning to those inspirational books at the beginning of this piece) will enhance and transform the industry approach to managing subsea integrity. Subsea infrastructure and underwater assets, including pipelines, structures and vessels are critical, not only to the Oil and Gas sector, but to the Renewable, Nuclear, Civil and Defence sectors too. Effective management of their integrity relies on intimate understanding of their physical condition; adopting innovations in inspection and analysis will deliver this.
As we sit here, on the cusp of a new ‘easing’ phase of the lockdown, I can’t help but look ahead with some anticipation. Whatever happens next in the Subsea Inspection industry, it will certainly be algorithmic and, by current predictions, eventually quantum mechanics based, but whatever it is, we had all better be ready, because it certainly won’t be dull!
1CSI is pleased to announce the appointment of a new director, Richard Gibson to the company’s board.
With 38 years of experience in the Oil & Gas industry, Richard brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in business and product development, with an exceptional track record of growing businesses and delivering strategic transformation.
His appointment reflects 1CSI’s strategy and ambition to grow its position across industry sectors such as Defence, Renewables and Oil & Gas (especially during this crucial energy transition phase) delivering innovative subsea inspection technology.
Richard said: “I have been working with 1CSI for over 24 months now, supporting the company’s growth strategy, business development, and nurturing deeper relationships with clients. 1CSI is an innovative company with outstanding skills, experience and drive; I am really delighted to be part of the journey.”
As the company gears up for the launch of their new subsea inspection technology later this year, Chief Operations Officer, Aleksandra Tomaszek, said: “I am extremely pleased that Richard has accepted the Board’s invitation to become a Director of 1CSI. Over the last two years Richard has proven his talent and business mentoring skills. I believe that his expertise, experience and well-deserved reputation, sets 1CSI on course for a great and exciting future. On behalf of the Board, Richard, welcome to the team!”
In our last post, we wrote about our approach to the current Covid-19 situation and touched on the effect it has had on our business. In this post, a week further down the line, I wanted to share something about the importance of continuing to place emphasis on developing new ideas (and new technologies) even in hard times.
For a long time now, Alex and I have been developing a piece of new technology that will change the face of subsea inspection in the Oil and Gas, Renewables and Defence sectors. When something like this has been the focus of your working life, with everything striving towards a launch date, your mindset revolves around solving problems. In the current lockdown climate, with uncertainty over the future of many UK businesses, now more than ever a focus and emphasis on a creative, adaptable, problem-solving approach is critical.
We see it in all of the engineers and designers who are turning their minds and their equipment to the creation of new medical equipment and PPE to protect front line staff, or the manufacturing sector and its teams of workers rapidly adapting their skills and production lines to fabricate critical protective clothing or equipment to help the NHS prepare for the peak. The creative thinking and adaptability of these men and women and their businesses is one of the elements that are helping to keep the country moving, without it we would be in a much worse position.
At 1CSI, we know that our technology will change things in subsea inspection, making certain tasks faster, more cost effective, and deliver improved results. In our industry, operators and owners are highly responsible and as proactive as they can be, with inspection still going ahead where it is necessary. Even so, when the lockdown is lifted, the frequency and need will increase and we believe it is important, not just for our own business, that our new product is ready to deploy when that day comes so that businesses with subsea assets can get moving again.
As we have progressed from the design and engineering phase to the prototyping and manufacturing of the product we have come up against some significant challenges, but we have approached them with a determined, flexible mindset. Most recently, Covid-19 has had a profound impact on the business. Manufacturing and fabrication has ground to a halt in many European countries (for good reason) which, at our end of the chain, has meant that vital parts are delayed or have been shelved. In response, we focused our efforts on broadening our network and with some perseverance and a bit of luck, have found companies in other countries able to step in and help us with the short order parts that we need to keep going.
Business is not easy at the moment; the stakes are so high for all of us. Many of us are standing at the edge of a precipice, with our families, employees, suppliers beside us and a vast unknown ahead. Perhaps if we can hold together and keep moving forward, keep our minds open, keep thinking creatively and developing new ideas and technologies, keep looking for ways to overcome challenges and meet our objectives, perhaps when this has passed (because this too shall pass) we will still be moving forward, working more efficiently and effectively in a business sector that we can be proud of.
What strange times we are living through. Here at 1CSI we have had our heads down, preparing for the launch of our new ground-breaking inspection tool (more on that later) but there is no getting around what is happening in our communities, countries, and around the world. As many companies have done in the last fortnight, we wanted to write a message to reassure you, our colleagues and clients, that we are still here and that we are taking every advised precaution, following government guidelines during these difficult times, including the new guidance issued yesterday evening. As a consultancy built from shared expertise in project management excellence, 1CSI understands the importance of continuity of service. We are committed to our customers’ projects and still very much available over the phone or via video conference. To update you all following our last post, we are pleased to report that our exciting new product has entered the production phase. However, under the current circumstances, we will be holding off the launch until later in the year. Wishing our followers, clients and their families good health. All the best, Aleksandra and Matthew
A belated happy new year to all of our 1CSI followers, welcome back to the CSI blog! From the outside, things may have seemed quiet, but we have been busily working away behind the scenes to grow the business in new and exciting ways and bring a new service-line to life.
2020 will bring a flurry of announcements and news from us. In the next few months, we will roll out a ground-breaking new tool; a subsea inspection technology that will change industry ideas on what is possible.
With strong focus on research and development of new technological solutions that address real-world challenges, 1CSI is expanding further into the oil & gas, renewables and defence sectors. This is the beginning of a new year, and a new era for 1CSI – watch this space!
Huge thanks to the following; Scottish Development International, Scottish Enterprise, Department of Industry and Trade, EIC South America and Subsea UK for a quite seamless and superb 2019 Trade Mission event ‘UK & Brazil Partners in Energy’. With particular thanks to Nicola Sartini, SDI SVP Americas for his excellent support and Simon Wood, HM Consul General at British Consulate-General Rio de Janeiro for hosting the Queen’s Birthday party celebration at the Copacabana Palace on June 3rd. Brilliant and productive event!