"I wasn’t sure about getting in touch, because I thought my construction site may prove too remote/hot/cold/complex for installing time lapse site monitoring”
This is a phrase we’ve heard many times over the years from new clients. As soon as the client has picked up the phone or dropped us a message, we’re then able to promptly lay these fears to rest.
Over our ten years of operation, we have installed our Lobster Pot time lapse cameras on oil rigs, wind turbines, ships, in deserts, close to the Arctic Circle… you name it, we’ve installed it! We have a huge range of masts, brackets, mounts and towers specifically tailored to meet the unique requirements of different sites and are able to develop and custom-build bespoke solutions for those more complex or unusual projects.
We have designed, built and deployed solar, wind and even methanol fuel cell power solutions where mains power isn’t available, and have even installed our own internet access points on sites outside of cellular range.
We relish the opportunity to flex our grey matter and develop tailored solutions to the challenges thrown up by a non-standard site. Here, we list a few examples, so if you’re looking for time lapse site monitoring - perhaps with additional BIM integration - but are concerned that your site may prove too demanding for installation, read on!
The Great Firewall
For Siemens, we were asked to install cameras at various projects around China. The first of these was an aluminium plant in Fuzhou, Fujian Province.
There were multiple challenges to overcome - from data security to site safety.
Lobster Pot cameras upload to our bespoke viewing platform Lobster Vision, with images resident on multiple ‘cloud’ and physical secure servers. We also need encrypted access into our camera systems for control and monitoring throughout a build. Unfortunately, Chinese internet censorship means that by default, many foreign websites and server locations are inaccessible using standard tools. We had to build our own configuration in order to get to the ‘outside world’ in both directions - and this was resilient enough to last throughout all of the deployments on the project, at three locations across China.
When we first arrived on site, it was clear that safety was not to the standard seen on UK or European sites. We were provided with slim bamboo ladders to reach the installation point, which were unsuitable for the task. At our request, a welded steel tower was built, enabling us to reach the installation point safely.
The 55°c desert
Fujairah, United Arab Emirates.
Temperatures in Fujairah can peak at a whopping 55°C. Nothing can kill electrics like heat – especially over a long period of time. Add to this, the site was a mile away from the nearest source of mains electricity, up a mountain, and well out of cellular range, so our usual methods of power and data transfer were not going to work here.
With such intense sunshine, solar was the perfect solution to power the Lobster Pot. We also added a Peltier air-conditioning system, to keep the components cool.
The connectivity was also a challenge, leading us to build a 36-megabit internet access point a mile from the nearest cable. We tested a system over the Severn - sending an encrypted signal over 10km without a problem - so we knew a mile down to the site office would work.
Once installed, we could then monitor temperature, voltage, humidity and dewpoint from our Bristol offices, 24 hours a day. The Lobster Pot camera performed perfectly for 3 years, until the client completed their project.
We have since developed our systems further, testing their limits on a 4-day 65°C cooking session. The Lobster Pot now has EN 60068 certified heat tolerance as standard. Our longest serving cameras have been out in the desert for eight consecutive summers on a mega-project, without any problem.
The 90m instalL
A 90m meteorological mast on the West coast of Scotland to capture imagery of a wind turbine.
The height and exposure of the install were major factors for consideration. We like to think fondly of this project as the install equivalent of an ascent of El Cap.
As ever, a site survey was absolutely vital to this particular project. The team took multiple photos and measurements, and engaged with all key contacts to understand what was required to carry out the work safely. A detailed Risk Assessment and Method Statement was written, submitted and subsequently finalised.
Our team of technicians are all highly qualified in both working at height and rescue at height. Harnesses, lanyards and safety equipment were safety checked and certified fit for use by a third party. Upon arrival for the install itself, the team attended an induction to understand the site-specific hazards, such as deep water, a local nuclear power station and regular heavy vehicle movement. After buddy-checking each other's harnesses, the technicians climbed the mast using the Latchways fixed cable safety system, taking frequent rest breaks during the climb. All the equipment and tools were taken up in haul bags attached to the harnesses, along with a rescue bag containing a 100m rope and abseil equipment. When at 90m, work positioning lanyards were fixed before the bracket and Lobster Pot itself were installed - secured with secondary back-up steel rope lanyards to protect if any primary fixtures fail.
THE SEA INSTALLER
A2SEA’s second-generation wind turbine installation vessel, SEA INSTALLER, is designed to operate in the challenging conditions that are encountered far offshore and in deep water. It’s purpose-built to transport and install up to eight 4MW turbines or four 8.3MW turbines and has a crane with capacity to lift a huge 900 tones. With a reinforced deck as long as a football pitch, the vessel is made to carry large, heavy loads and can operate in water that’s 60m deep or more.
We worked closely with the team onboard to plan the camera installation around their routine, minimising disruption, whilst the vessel was docked in a pre-assembly yard.
Once the camera was out of cellular range at sea, we were essentially operating ‘in the dark’. However, we were confident that the camera would shoot away throughout - which it did, coming back into communication with us after a few days at sea.
We’ve now installed cameras like this eight times on seagoing vessels - and of course - we’ve never lost a shot.
The remote install
Bolivia, South America.
The project was for Oxfam, to photograph and document their Camellones project. The project is re-introducing ancient techniques for land management using canals and raised farming areas, with the aim of helping the local people deal with the effects of climate change and improve their lives through increased food security and income.
Tropical heat, high humidity levels and aggressive (often blood sucking!) insects were all challenges encountered and overcome on the trip - alongside the logistics of moving large quantities of equipment in very muddy conditions along flooded tracks.
We initially surveyed the site to establish a suitable position for a long term camera to continue filming as the project expanded, to help engage the public in fund-raising activities by showing the progress of the project online via Lobster Vision. The site survey enabled us to plan the intricacies required for the unique site, before returning to install the camera on a 15m custom-built mast (armed with plenty of insect repellent!)
8k in the cold
We were asked to install an 8K time lapse camera for a confidential site in Rauma, Finland.
Installing at short notice, in the middle of a dark Arctic winter, we built fan heaters into the camera and tested it in our freezer down to -35°C, well below the expected -20°C.
We’d already installed and managed cameras through Finnish winters - working on various oil and gas projects in the country since 2013 - so we were confident the solution we would apply would work well.
With help from a great client - sourcing a 4G SIM card, working with the site to make sure access and power were ready for us - the install could not have gone any smoother. The camera worked fine for two years, going down to -23°C at times, and as ever backed-up by our remote support and control from the UK. There was no trauma in Rauma!
Throw us a challenge!
These stories are just the tip of the iceberg - we’ve installed Lobster Pots in 21 countries, across six continents, so there’s a huge pool of experience, talent and best practice we’ve built up in the process. Get in touch and throw us your most treacherous conditions or complex sites - we'd love to provide you with a bespoke solution.
If you'd like to know more about how the installation process works, download our Implementation process infographic to find out just how easy it is to install time lapse on your project... in 10 easy steps.