MacArtney launches new, intelligent underwater winch

system integration

MacArtney has launched a new, intelligent underwater winch system. Offering flexible oceanographic measuring and monitoring, it is capable of launching and retrieving an extensive range of underwater oceanographic equipment at programmed intervals and defined depths.

Engineered, flexible design
The types and frequency of water column readings vary enormously from one project to another. Projects may need a range of equipment to measure oxygen levels, salinity, depth, temperature or conductivity. Some applications require almost continual monitoring of water conditions, whilst others may need checking at longer intervals.

The MacArtney underwater winch system is designed to perform measurements when or wherever required. Consisting of a winch fixed to a platform on the sea floor, it controls the deployment of oceanographic equipment by raising and lowering a buoy at pre-defined intervals, speeds and to set depths.

The winch can be mounted with a variety of sensors and can monitor a wide range of conditions in fresh or sea water environments. It can function as part of an integrated oceanographic measuring system or as an autonomous unit.

Static measuring systems with equipment at constant depths can leave potential blind spots. The new system provides precise vertical resolution, eliminating gaps between measurement heights and recording data at certain depths or indeed for the entire depth of the water column. It can take measurements throughout the entire deployment during ascent and descent.

Adjustments and maintenance are made simple and convenient as the equipment can be raised by the winch to the surface and lowered again to continue working.

Real time access
The winch is fully programmable, and settings and data can be accessed through a web interface to give real time information and control.

Robust, low maintenance winch
MacArtney has integrated several features into the system to help ensure that the winch works optimally from the sea floor. A foundation is positioned on the seabed so the winch sits as flat and evenly as possible and the winch drum material has been specifically chosen to be lightweight yet strong and have an extended lifespan in situ. Oil compensation in the winch box ensures that pressure is compensated, provides a cooling system for the winch motor and allows the winch to function on the sea bed.

Complexity has been kept to a minimum to ensure reliability for extended periods underwater and to minimise maintenance. The winch drum operates without a level wind and the cable is reeled on a single layer, steered by a grooved drum.

Regular maintenance ensures long lifespan
The challenges that fixed underwater winches face depend on where they are installed. Depth, water temperature, oxygen and other natural processes, such as fouling, can affect how a system works. Servicing at specific intervals and maintenance ensures that the winch works optimally and that the oceanographic measuring equipment functions correctly and continues to make precise readings.