Jan De Nul orders motion-compensated pile gripper for Les Alizés

4C Offshore | Tom Russell
By: 06/07/2021 Jan Del Nul

Jan De Nul Group has selected Imeca to deliver a electrical Motion-Compensated Pile Gripper for its new Floating Installation Vessel
Les Alizés. The tailor-made gripper, with an integrated X-Laboratory guidance and survey system, is designed to support the installation of next-generation monopiles with accuracy.

Gripper delivery is planned for H2 2022. It is expected to support the installation of very large components including jackets exceeding 4,500 mt, and heights in excess of 100 m; and monopiles weighing over 3,000 mt and an outer diameter exceeding 12 m.

Jan Van De Velde, Head of Newbuilding Department, commented: “It is our continued philosophy to focus on operational efficiency, with improving safety as the main objective. For this innovative Motion-Compensated Pile Gripper we have challenged our suppliers to meet our functional requirements. Imeca is an experienced system integrator with a solid offshore track record, and will form a strong team with its complimentary partner X-Laboratory, known for its innovative plug-and-play control solutions for offshore wind applications. With this gripper investment, we stay one step ahead in offering the renewables industry a one-stop-shop installation solution.

“Previously tools and mission equipment were designed to fit for one project. Now our tools are designed to cover the requirements of current and future projects. This approach considerably increases sustainability as tools can be used for multiple projects, and safety risk reduces as the operators become familiar with the equipment.”


The Imeca Motion-Compensated Pile Gripper will feature an integrated survey system designed to enable continuous monitoring of the monopile from insertion into the gripper to hammering completion. This is expected to improve the control over the monopile and support the decision-making process between operational steps.

With the X-Laboratory Guidance System’s embedded emergency recovery control mode, the gripper will be able to control the monopile even in the hypothetical absence of the DP system and thrusters. The gripper will operate autonomously to keep the monopile and vessel stable, long enough to return all systems to a safe state.

Kara Konate, Technical Director at Imeca, said: “We are at our best as sparring partner for our clients, deeply involved in their operational process where our solutions can make a difference. The challenge for this gripper project was to have a safe and reliable solution providing the required workability in all operational phases in an efficient manner. This requires a tremendous precision and reactivity on a large machine. We have achieved this through an innovative low friction bearing system and our internally developed electric drive and control system making use of permanent magnet assisted electric motors. Supercaps are used to reduce the power demand from the vessel. We are very proud to have been selected and look forward to our cooperation with Jan De Nul and our partners.”

André Schiele, CEO of X-Laboratory, added: “Handling large monopiles safely and with high accuracy during the various installation phases of a floating operation is a profound engineering challenge. We applied our Space Engineering heritage to the development of the X-Control Guidance System and the X-Cam Survey Sensor Suite, which we initially developed for our PuppeteerTM motion compensation tool. Jan De Nul’s monopile gripper will be equipped with the latest state-of-the-art technology and fulfil strict redundancy requirements. It will allow resource efficient, weather robust and high-reliability operations, delivering the potential to disrupt the floating wind pile installation market. We are proud to be contributing our products and technology to this exciting development of Imeca and Jan De Nul.”