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Rotec part of a groundbreaking vessel development: WaveAccess

WaveAccess Tenacity vessel

In 2014, Rotec were invited to join Coastal Charters, a commercial maritime business based in West Cumbria, on the development of WaveAccess.

The project originally came as a response to an emerging trend within the offshore wind industry to move the construction further out into the sea.  The company anticipated the industry’s need for a reliable vessel that would be faster and able to cope with the challenging conditions further offshore.

The goal of the project was to design and build a rapid crew transfer vessel that would be faster, safer and cheaper to run than the vessels in use, resulting in the pilot vessel: Tenacity

The radical new design allows for transport of passengers and crew with dramatically reduced fuel consumption at twice the speed, while maintaining safety, minimising motion sickness and improving comfort at up to 40 kts in seas in excess of 2m. The vessel can be used for crew transfers in industries such as oil & gas, offshore wind and construction, search and rescue, patrol, medivac, safety boat, to name a few.

See video of the vessel in action on WaveAccess website or YouTube channel

WaveAccess Tenacity vessel

Thanks to  Rotec’s extensive marine experience and previous control systems the company had developed for use on multi-hull jet vessels in the wind-farm support vessel industry we were invited to participate in this innovative project.

Vessel interiorAndy Rimes, Rotec’s Technical Director outlines the project “Together with the team at WaveAccess and other specialists we developed a bespoke control system for the twin waterjet propulsion system to provide fully automated synchronised control of the jets, clutches, thrusters and main engines both in normal forward cruising modes and reverse facing tower operations.”

The electronic system is based on Parker Hannifin’s Iqan mobile controller and associated products. “As well as the electronic supervisory control and monitoring system we also completely re- equipped the Italian Castoldi waterjets hydraulic drive and control systems to provide fully proportional control electronically controlled from the Iqan system. This provides a smoother, more controllable and economic drive system. “


CGG Veritas Oceanic Sirius

All design work and bench testing took place at Rotec’s premises in Taunton, with the installation, setup and sea trials carried out by Rotec engineers at Coastal Charters home in Cumbria.

It was a challenging, yet ultimately rewarding, experience to be involved with the development of a concept vessel such as this and we wish Stephen and all the crew and team at WaveAccess best of luck with their promotion of the successful and innovative vessel to the industry.

For more information please visit: www.waveaccess.co.uk



Author: Sarka Humpolcova

Date: 06/04/2017

Paul Prouse foreword for BFPDA

Rotec’s own Managing Director, Paul Prouse, was selected to hold a chairman position for the BFPDA (British Fluid Power Distributors Association) throughout 2016. In his 2017 foreword for the association’s publication ‘Yearbook & Members Directory’, Paul talks about two of the topics dominating the headlines of newspapers across the world; Brexit and Women in power…

“It is hard to put pen to paper and not talk about Brexit, the topic has dominated the headlines throughout 2016 cultivated continuously by everyone from small SMEs through to large corporate businesses trying to second guess what ‘best strategy’ for their business should take whilst the politicians arguably find themselves with a task to extract the UK from Europe that in reality, the net effect is unknown along with strategy or policy that was never scripted.

I will come back to Brexit. In the meantime, what has also been interesting throughout the year and in part has caused me to reflect on the situation within the trade members of BFPDA and our industry as a whole is the renewed emphasis on women within the industry. The global stage has been dominated by Mrs Merkel, Mrs May and the near miss of Mrs Clinton joining the ranks as respective leaders of 3 of the world’s wealthiest nations providing a healthy balance in tipping the scales that in part have been dominated by men.”


Rotec repair CGG Veritas’ seismic system in Colombia

CGG Veritas and Rotec Hydraulics have a long history of working together.

CGG is a leader in cutting-edge geoscience. Their commitment to providing innovative and sustainable solutions has seen them crowned a leader in their field. The technology, services and equipment they provide is designed to collect data and images of the sub-surface with great precision. CGG help the oil and gas industry to develop a deeper understanding of the subsurface exploration via state-of-the-art software and data analysis services.

Rotec supplied the company with enormous power packs in past and, in 2010, was contracted again, this time to equip their seismic ship Oceanic Sirius with a bespoke air reduction panel. The large panel is designed to work with a system that maps the sea bed for oil industry. Using acoustic sources towed behind the ship to shoot out high frequency sound waves that bounce off of different layers of the seabed’s sub-surface and get picked up by hydrophones, working a bit like an ultrasound. This data is then recorded and interpreted, helping the experts to make informed decisions about new drilling locations.

Find out more about seismic mapping in THIS VIDEO

Power Pack for CGG Veritas

The Rotec reduction panel is designed to routinely regulate between air pressure of 140 bar and 30 bar when not in use and was

Reduction Panel on Oceanic Sirius

Reduction Panel on Oceanic Sirius

manufactured in 2010, installed and commissioned on the ship in 2011, running smoothly until a major overhaul in January 2016, when the system had to go through its pressure equipment certification. The system performed great during the testing, but started having problems following the overhaul.

At first the capable CGG engineers were attempting to tackle the issue with Rotec’s telephonic guidance, but due to the nature of their jobs (12 hour shifts and swapping of engineering crews every 5 weeks with practically zero downtime), it was near impossible. They decided to contract one of Rotec’s engineers to repair the system. Claire Brown was scheduled to meet the ship in Barranquilla (Colombia) in September and after a 25 hour journey and a day’s wait she finally boarded the ship together with a group of contractors that were servicing and working on other parts of the ship.

This is what Claire had to say about the experience

“The hotel I was staying in was lovely, but I was advised not to venture outside. The government is currently building new infrastructure, but the city’s poverty is tangible as things stand at the moment. The relative luxury of the hotel was a stark contrast to what unravelled in front of me on our way to the port. I would have liked to see more of the city or the country of course, to form a more complete picture. The mosquito repellent I brought definitely came in handy; they were everywhere (laughing),”


CGG Veritas Oceanic Sirius

After the initial compulsory ship orientation, Claire got shown to the Chief mechanic, and by 3pm she identified and repaired the problem. However they could not test the system while the ship was still docked, as the air powered guns used to blast out the acoustic waves go off rather loudly. Once out at sea the system performed well and Claire spent additional 5 days on board of Sirius going through their kit, and making sure they had everything they needed, ordering additional items.

Claire says “I quite like going off to places and seeing how other people live, but also I like working with different people. The crew was made up of many different nationalities (British, Canadian, Norwegian, Lithuanian, French, Spanish, Filipino and American). These guys are working such long hours, live in a restricted space but they get on so well, it was pretty inspirational. They make light of the stereotypes, for example they dubbed me as the ‘posh’ one, because of my british accent (laughs)”

Update: Claire has been back for a couple of months and there have been no problems with the system. We are looking forward to offering our marine expertise to the company in future.



Author: Sarka Humpolcova

Date: 03/01/2017

Engineering Talks 1.3 : Interview with an aviation specialist

Name: Richard Quelch

Qualifications: HNC in Mechanical and Structural Engineering

Years of working experience: 34 years

Job Title: Mechanical Design Engineer

Speciality: Aerospace

Where are you from?

Originally from Southampton, but moved into the West Country about 20 years ago. I also lived in Germany, Israel and Brazil for some time, due to work requirements.


Do you have any hobbies?

I love fly-fishing and outdoor pursuits in general, such as gardening; Somerset is a great place for all of these!

I also just recently finished working on an innovative Facebook development project called Aquila – a 42 m unmanned solar-powered drone, designed to fly at 90,000 feet , whose goal is to bring the Internet to remote reaches of the world where there is no satellite coverage. The wing is controlled from the ground and flies in around 60 km radius – providing coverage to huge areas. I thought it was a fun and worthwhile project and offered my company’s services; we became a part of a propulsion unit team. It is currently in a test phase, but the plan is to manufacture 100’s of these to employ all over the world.

Find out more about project Aquila here

Aquilla drone during test flight

Are there some other innovative projects you have been involved in?

Errrm… Yes. Unfortunately can’t mention them in any depth as they were for the Defence Department and are secret. (laughs)


Sounds like you’ve had an interesting career path , can you tell us a bit about it?

Sure. I guess it all started with an apprenticeship with Siemens. I was part of a project developing a towed array sonar for the marine industry – a piece of defence mechanism used on Submarines. I came out with a HNC in Mechanical and Structural Engineering. I then went on to work for Airbus, Embrear & Dornier – on and off for many years and I ended up working all over the world including Germany, Australia, Brazil and Israel. I was part of their teams developing the A340 and also the A380, from conception to finish. Previous and subsequent jobs were with AgustaWestland Helicopters in Yeovil, where I was involved in the EH 101 and also AW159 – “Wildcat” development – the latest craft currently being deployed by the military.


Airbus A340 and A380, Helicopters: EH 101 and AW159 “Wildcat”

What interested you in a job at Rotec?

Well, it’s local, I’ve been travelling most of my life and at 55 I would like to stick to my home (laughs).

I think Rotec has a great future, it’s a company that will expand I think and probably at the correct rate and that appealed to me. Also I enjoy the management as well as the practical side of the job. Rotec have invested in innovative 3D Solidworks software and would like to see it used to it’s full potential and since I have over 15 years of experience of using Solidworks as well as other systems it was a good fit. I am also looking forward to working on some new Rotec product ranges the company are looking to introduce, which I think is very progressive!


If you enjoyed this article you might like these: Engineering Talks 1.1: Interview with an apprentice or Engineering Talks 1.2 : Women in Engineering


Author: Sarka Humpolcova

Date: 24/11/2016

Engineering Talks 1.2 : Women in Engineering

Name: Claire Brown

Qualifications: Fully qualified electrician (originally trained via a modern apprenticeship scheme in an industrial environment). Level 2 Hydraulics, working towards Level 3 atmo

Years of working experience:  12 years overall, 7 years with Rotec

Job Title: 5 second silence (what IS my job title?! laughter) I guess the official job title is Electrical engineer.

But you do more than that?

Yes, it’s quite a dynamic group of engineers, so we all need to cover more than our job description. Rotec is good at not ‘pigeonholing’ people and giving us the outlet to apply our skill sets in different ways.


What does your typical day look like?

Typical day would be a bit of electrical design, possibly a bit of customer technical phone assistance, a bit of hands on in the workshop, prototype system testing, if there is a customer with a breakdown then I could be popping out on site to assist  and generally giving a hand if we have some industrial projects on. We also have an apprentice – Dan, I am a main point of contact for him, so I also answer his questions and assist him when necessary.


How did you arrive at engineering?

I grew up on a farm, was expected to help out since young age and enjoyed the hands on work. I did 3 of my A Levels in science, and worked part time at the local vets which I enjoyed, so I actually considered becoming a veterinarian, but decided I preferred working with a machinery than something with a pulse. I started looking at some of the other options and fancied an off road vehicle design course at Shropshire university. I even went on a weekend taster which was brilliant, very hands on, getting involved in new machinery development process, but then we spent a day with the actual first year students who showed us their dossier portfolios they had created in their first year (which were about 4 inch thick), and I thought I don’t really want to do that!(laughing) That’s what pointed me towards the option of an apprenticeship – an attractive combination of learning and working. I went to the college and they told me about a company who was looking for an electrical apprentice, so I went straight in for an interview, in my little jumper and flip flops. The four applicants (including myself) then went on to do a one week trial upon which I was offered the position.


Were any of the other applicants women?

No. I was the only girl on the course that year, but there had been a female electrician two years before (laughing) but I don’t know of any others while I was still at college.


Do you think a lot of girls get intimidated by the male dominated industry?

(Claire seems to choose her words carefully) I don’t really think it’s intimidation.  I think that the environment in which most girls are brought up and the way the education system is structured channels girls down a certain route, I don’t think the actual opportunities are opened up to them in the way that it is for men. I think a lot of it has to do with the way the different genders are viewed. Like with me, growing up on a farm I was expected to muck in, including the physical stuff, lifting heavy loads and you find that going to school you are probably stronger than some of the boys (laughing), especially the ones who spend their free time playing computer games. But most girls are brought up in a typical ‘girly way’ which leads them into an office job, or other jobs that generally have higher female representation.


So you think other people’s perception is leading girls away from jobs they could be interested in but are not traditionally pursued by a lot of women?

Yeah, like I don’t think I would have gotten the apprenticeship if it wasn’t for the week’s placement. The workshop manager especially showed concerns about my physical limitations, but the younger guys were more open minded and I am stronger than I look (Claire is quite petite)! One day I walked in with this motor, and I just carried it through the workshop and the guys just kind of did a double take, gaping at me like ‘have you just carried that through the whole building’ (laughing) And I was like ‘yeah’… and I got the job!


People assume a lot don’t they…

Absolutely! When I go to a site, people don’t always tend to realise that I am the electrician they have been waiting for all morning! (laughing) I don’t think people are being mean or anything, but women in engineering are not common. Once they realise I am there to commission the power unit, their reactions are definitely positive.


What’s the most recent project you’ve worked on?

I went to Colombia recently, to repair an air reduction system on a seismic ship which is designed to map the sea bed. That was a great project, it was interesting to get a glimpse of the country, but also to have a chance to observe the dynamic on the ship. The crew was made up off people from about 6 different nationalities: Norwegians, French, North American, Lithuanian, British and Filipinos. They work hard, they work 7 days a week, in 12 hour shifts for 5 weeks, and then they have five weeks off. So you’d think it would get quite intense, but they work so well together! Making fun of the stereotypes linked with each nationality. Actually I was the only woman on the ship, there are usually more women working on these ships, but with the Zika virus threat in the South Americas the company decided to transfer their female staff to regions with less risk.


Would you advise girls to go into engineering?

Yes, definitely! Unfortunately I think it is difficult for any young person to make the life changing decision of a career choice at school leaving age. It is even more difficult for girls to choose to take a career path that is uncommon or stereotypically a male job. I have found the engineering industry to be a great choice as I find the work stimulating and varied. It is an industry that is forever evolving as technology changes which keeps things interesting.


Did any of your friends also decide to take an uncommon career path?

One of my friends got a university degree in automotive/aerospace industries and she really wanted to get into the Formula 1, but found getting into the industry wasn’t going to be easy. She is so enthusiastic, and so knowledgeable, but when she went up against men with the same degree, they seemed to be given a preference. It took her quite a few years to find a step into the industry and it did not at that point match her degree. I think that sometimes in engineering female staff may have to initially prove their competency to earn the same respect that is held for their male colleagues.


Do you think there is any difference in terms of the qualities male/female engineers bring to the company?

I don’t really think so, not when it comes to skill sets, capability or competence. If there are people willing to give you the chance to learn skills women can be just as good as men. Everyone has particular assets that are distinct to them individually. I may not have the same strength that our Big Dave has to loosen a steadfast bolt. But when the bolt gets dropped in the 3-inch gap behind a power unit that’s where the person with a smaller physique comes into play.


How do you find working predominantly with men?

Really good! Generally the guys are great to work with. The vocabulary can be slightly more elaborate especially in the workshop or the shop floor environments and even more if something is going wrong! (laughing) If I am working somewhere new I think the guys try to tone it down a little until they get used to me and realise I won’t be offended. I think the dynamic shifts slightly with a woman in the room and I think it’s a change for the better.


It would appear that as much as our society has made progress towards equality, we are still some distance away from truly equal opportunities. Girls should be encouraged from a young age to choose a path they have aptitude for, but that is not enough. Women engineers are not asking for new opportunities to be created for them, they are asking companies to make the shift towards welcoming them, and encouraging them to apply for the positions that are out there, giving them the opportunity to showcase their unique skills, much to the companies own benefit. Claire says: The more women can be encouraged into the industry the less likely these preconceptions will be made between male/female job roles and hobbies. Also more awareness of what jobs are actually out there in the engineering industry would be useful for any young person in helping them make their career choice.


Author: Sarka Humpolcova

Date: 07/10/2016

Engineering Talks 1.1 : Interview with an Apprentice

Are you currently considering your options following A-Levels? You might find this article helpful: University Degree vs Apprenticeships: Pros & Cons


Name: Zac Huckle

Job Title: Engineering Apprentice

What does your typical day look like?

I help out around the workshop, working on hose connections, or try to come up with improvements whether that be the way the shop looks or regarding our internal processes. If there is a call out I join one of the engineers and go out to help on the job.


Rotec Hydraulics Plymouth Depot

Speaking with Dave Nance, Rotec Plymouth Depot Manager

I heard there is a bit of a story behind employing our new apprentice Zac?

Yeah, Zac has been with us for about 6 months before he became our apprentice. He first joined us as a warehouse assistant, after a bit of an uphill battle (laughing). He send his CV in and at first I didn’t think his skill set was exactly what we were looking for so I didn’t pursue it any further. However he just turned up at the store one day, and I was really busy, but we had a quick chat and I was intrigued and invited him for an interview. Long story short, we gave him a job! He was great, right from the start he showed great attitude and initiative. He had no trouble following the tasks laid out for him, always going above and beyond of what was required. He has brought a number of improvements to our processes, organising the store and coming up with fresh ideas. We had an apprentice at the time, but it didn’t go very well and when the position opened up Zac offered to step in, becoming an engineering apprentice. Zac is 20, which unfortunately means the apprenticeship cost is a bit higher than usual (The National Apprenticeship Service only contributes 50% as opposed to 100%  t the cost of the course for 19-24 year olds), but because Zac has proven himself on the shop floor and out on site already, it was a no brainer. Carl (Rotec warehouse manager) is not very happy however, because he is losing a good pair of hands now Zac is being sent out on jobs more and more often.



Speaking to Zac:

What did you do before you joined Rotec?

I actually lived in Canada for almost 7 years before moving to the UK and joining Rotec. I completed my higher education there, after which I became a mechanic. I grew up around heavy machinery, with my dad working in the plant and tool hire industry. I learned how to drive diggers, dump truck and other heavy machinery and wanted to become a truck driver for as long as I can remember, but as I got older I started leaning more towards becoming a mechanic instead. I like working with my hands and love all things mechanical so it was an easy choice!


What made you take up engineering then?

Initially it was simply the closest thing to my mechanical background. When I moved to the UK I found out that my Canadian drivers licence couldn’t be transferred, stopping me from working as a mechanic as a driver’s licence is required because of the insurance cover. So I started looking at what I could do and I came across Rotec, luckily, as I really like working here! There’s a lot of variety.


Why were you interested in becoming an apprentice?

I feel I was given a chance, that perhaps the company has taken a bit of a gamble on me and I feel that studying and bettering myself will allow me to bring more value to the business in the long term and give back to the company, if you know what I mean?


This week was your first day at college, and I understand you were put through some vocational tests and received the highest scores all the way across the board (10! Congratulations btw!). What were the tests focused on?

I was asked to do a variety of tasks based around metal work.


We are looking forward to following Zac’s journey and future successes. He is currently based in our depot in Plymouth (lucky man, you can judge for yourself).


Author: Sarka Humpolcova

Date: 07/10/2016

Rotec Hydraulic depot in the Plymouth marina