[Published by Stewart Technology Associates on January 18, 2016]
OrcaFlex is an industry-leading software package that is used for dynamically modeling and analyzing offshore marine systems, including oil rigs and platforms, buoys, mooring systems, anchors, drilling risers and other components. It helps to determine what forces will be acting on equipment used in marine environments, whether at the surface, below it or on the seafloor. This modeling process, called hydrodynamic analysis, can allow engineers to better design marine equipment to stand up to the extreme forces exerted on it, reducing structural fatigue and failure rates. The software can also be used during marine accident investigations to determine the cause or causes of the incident and devise solutions to avoid problems in the future.
It is very versatile software with hundreds of useful features, including compatibility with third-party applications for scripting or integration into other software, and it offers a graphical interface that is easy to use and has full access to all of the program’s many functions and components.
Here are a few of the things you should know about the OrcaFlex software package:
#1 What OrcaFlex is Used For
The primary function of OrcaFlex to is to provide hydrodynamic analysis of marine systems, which can help manufacturers and engineers to design products and structures to stand up to the extreme forces exerted by water in marine environments. These forces include wave action, tidal action, sub-surface currents, extreme pressures, friction, turbulence caused by the seafloor or other objects in the water, and chemical processes, such as corrosion.
OrcaFlex is often used for designing and analyzing drilling rigs, drilling risers, moorings, buoy systems, anchors, mooring cables, anchor chains, sub-sea pipelines and hoses systems used for transferring oil. Some of the most interesting uses include analyzing minesweeper operations and modeling sonar deployments for the military, designing off-shore wind and wave power systems for the renewable energy industry, seabed stability analysis, and remote-operate vehicle, or submarine, design.
#2 Specific Applications
OrcaFlex is used by many different industries for marine systems analysis, and here are a few specific examples of the applications that the software has been explicitly designed for:
- Risers: The software can help design and analyze several types of common risers, including tensioned marine risers, steel centenary risers, flexible or hybrid risers, as well as umbilical systems. It can be used to determine the vertical and horizontal pressures acting on the riser system, and allow better systems to be created that prevent leaks and operation problems.
- Mooring systems: Oil platforms, buoys and other equipment use moorings to keep them stable in the water, preventing drifting and allowing them to perform tasks like drilling, which require a stable platform to do efficiently. If the moorings fail, there could be dire consequences, such as oil leaks, accidents or even fatalities. OrcaFlex is used to analyze the mooring environment and create mooring systems that are safe and secure, including spread, jetty, turret, and single-point mooring systems, as well as special mooring systems for oceanographic or aquaculture systems.
- Buoy Systems: Buoys are used to aid navigation, warn ships about underwater hazards, as mooring points or to carry scientific instruments, such as weather monitoring systems. The OrcaFlex software can model the effects of waves, tides and other forces on the buoy and mooring systems, allowing the design to be improved. It can analyze the performance of CALM and SPAR buoys, mid-water arches and metocean buoys.
- Hose Systems: Hoses systems used in the transfer of petroleum products and other fluids in a marine environment, such as under-buoy, offloading or floating hose systems, can be analyzed by the OrcaFlex software to determine stress points and design systems that are less likely to leak or fail due to environmental conditions.
- Military: The software can make operations such as ship-to-ship replenishing, mine-sweeping, helicopter landings safer, and it can improve sonar operations through modeling.
- Renewable Energy: Modeling and dynamic analysis can be used to improve wave-generator, off-shore wind turbine and floating wind turbine operation, making the systems safer and more efficient.
The OrcaFlex software has many great features that make it an indispensable tool for many of its clients, and they help make it one of the leading software packages in the marine engineering industry. It offers a comprehensive graphical user interface with wire-frame and shaded views, a moveable camera to track large objects, a model browser that can manage and organize multiple models, copy and paste functions for objects or groups, the ability to show or hide objects or groups, drag and drop import, easy to use wizards for a variety of functions, and unlimited 3D views, graphs, functions and tables.
The software has built-in multi-threading and is thoroughly optimized for use on computer systems with multiple processor cores. It features batch processing for volume analysis and offers a wide variety of automation tools to do repetitive tasks automatically and generate a wide range of reports with the available data.
It is compatible with many third-party software tools, including MatLab and Python for scripting and automation purposes, and the C++ and Delphi programming languages for OrcaFlex into other software solutions. With the custom programming interface and API, the OrcaFlex DLL can be used to access certain functions programmatically from within your own custom Windows software. The package comes in 32 or 64-bit versions, and in a multi-license environment, the modeling workload can be split between multiple computers using a distributed computing client and server solution. This allows the software to process data much faster than a single computer could alone.
#4 Who Uses It
Currently, more than 260 organizations use the OrcaFlex software, in dozens of different industry. This includes government and military organizations, off-shore engineering firms, the off-shore oil industry, oceanographic research institutions, seismic research organizations, the renewable energy industry, the shipping industry and aquaculture organizations.
OrcaFlex is a great all-around tool for doing dynamic and static analysis of nearly any kind of marine system, and it its many clients find it to be an indispensable tool for designing equipment and structures that must withstand the powerful forces present in a marine environment.