Deep diving thanks to Souriau connectors

31 August 2020 Interconnection

Commercial diving is a critical profession for many industries, including construction, energy, maintenance and scientific research. It is a job that comes with many risks, so it is imperative that divers are equipped with reliable and well-maintained equipment to ensure their safety throughout each diving operation. Souriau – now part of Eaton – provides reliable electrical connections that reduce risk for divers.

Greco Developments supplies the diving and ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) market with a range of support products and services, including the sale and maintenance of ready-to-use umbilicals and cable assemblies, as well as lamp glasses and hatwhips.

Company director Peter Greig founded Greco in 1988, after having spent many years as a machinist in the diving industry. The company rapidly evolved from machining to designing and manufacturing a number of its own products dedicated to professional diving. Thanks to its vertically integrated operation and attention to quality, it brought to market products that would become standard accessories to most diving and ROV companies.

Greco soon began focusing on tooling for underwater ROV cables, and quickly understood the benefits of having its moulding process in-house rather than subcontracting it. This enabled it to have more control over the quality of its products and processes, a decision that paid off as Greco became an industry leader, serving a wide range of international clients.

As the company grew, Greco looked to diversify its product and service portfolio by offering diving umbilicals, thus completing its range of maintenance services covering everything from supply, repairs, testing and cleaning to certification. Today it also handles the logistics and management of more than 500 umbilicals for the majority of large commercial diving companies.

Recently, Souriau’s team had the opportunity to connect with Matthew Greig, senior technician of Greco Developments (GD), to talk about ROVs, cables and subsea electrical engineering.

What does Greco do today?

MG: 15 to 20 years ago diving umbilicals were only a concept at GD but today they are the biggest aspect of our business. Offering both mechanical and electrical services to diving umbilicals puts Greco in a very unique situation, where we can offer umbilicals in full ready-to-dive condition, while being a one-stop shop at the same time.

To piggyback onto this we are probably best known for our electrical terminations along with the custom hatwhips we supply; most of our umbilicals and hatwhips are fitted with Souriau’s marine connectors. 100% of the dive support vessels (DSVs) in the North Sea utilise Greco’s cable moulding capacity and/or umbilical services. Worldwide our products are in service in six continents.

Greco’s diving umbilicals ready to use.

What are the requirements for the components that you use today? Why choose Souriau Connectors?

MG: The diving environment can be incredibly harsh – obviously pressure levels are elevated. Realistically a connector shouldn’t be the component that fails in electrical assemblies since it is made of metal, and is designed for subsea use. It is rather the mould or the cable itself that is most at risk of being shredded by barnacles or other hidden subsea pitfalls. With Souriau’s M series connectors, we have always had success in both reliability and overall ease to work with.

A dive umbilical will have an average shelf life of 5-10 years, depending on use and levels of maintenance over the years. At Greco we date every cable we make before it is shipped for obvious traceability purposes. To this day we are receiving umbilicals back from the field that still have Souriau connectors dated from 2009 with no repairs having been done in that time, which definitely says something about the effectiveness of both the connectors and our encapsulation capabilities.

What about tomorrow?

MG: The future for Greco, particularly in the ROV market, is in ultra-deep water. We recently have developed cables that function under extreme pressure, circa 6000 m depth. We are able to achieve a clear picture through our video cables even at this depth, thanks to the use of high-speed coax contacts. I suspect in the coming years more and more ultra-deep water work will be taking place. We are well positioned to expand into that market.

Hatwhip with Souriau M Series connector.

Where does the name Greco Developments come from?

MG: This is a simple story. Greco is a family business. My father when he set up the company wanted the name GreigCo but it wasn’t available. Some more trial and error and soon enough Greco was settled on. Close enough!

Souriau’s M Series are subsea connectors designed for prolonged use in seawater, and can operate at depths of up to 3000 m. The Souriau M+ Series is a new and improved version of the M series that operates up to 7000 m depth.


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