The Netherlands recently scored another offshore first and it was Bayards Aluminium Constructions that led the ground-breaking project. On Tuesday 15 September 2009 the very first aluminium heli hangar ever built in offshore history left the impressive production hall on the yard located at Heijningen (25km south of Rotterdam). The aluminium heli hangar is a super-shiny masterpiece, amalgamated by means of the friction stir welding (FSW) method, with welds as straight as an arrow and as flat as a mirror.

Thanks to a combination of specialist engineering, professional project management and top-quality welding, Bayards successfully completed this highly complex project, considerably reinforcing its leading position on the international rank list of engineering, design and fabrication companies of aluminium structures for the offshore industry. A team of 30 experts was involved in the engineering and fabrication of the unique hangar during 20,000 man hours.

Bayards was granted the challenging task of engineering and constructing an aluminium heli hangar 20m long, 17m wide and 9m high. Both the SLP and Heerema contract parties of the Valhall Re-Development project chose Bayards for the production of the heli hangar and external aluminium stair towers. The reason lies in the outstanding qualities of aluminium that are becoming more and more important in offshore applications nowadays: lightness in weight, low lifecycle cost, environmentally friendly, corrosion resistant and maintenance free.

One of the challenges on the Valhall heli hangar project was the complexity of the actual design. For all parties involved it was the very first time they were dealing with a project like this and the design therefore was a so-called ‘living’ document.

From a production point of view the most formidable challenge of the project was the application of the noiseless FSW method. Bayards is one of the very few companies in Europe to own a FSW production machine. The maximum length of welding is 16m, and by welding many profiles together one can produce panels up to 20m in width. The profile thickness varies from 2mm to 12mm, at certified welding speeds up to 3.6m/min. The Valhall Re-Development project was the very first time Bayards implemented the FSW technique for an offshore application. The major advantage is that, by avoiding the creation of a molten pool which shrinks significantly on resolidification, the distortion after welding and the residual stresses are low.

Dick de Kluijver, commercial director of Bayards, talking about successful cooperation with SLP and Heerema on the ValHall Re-Development project, says: “As an aluminium specialist we integrated our expertise and our engineering capacity in the total project. This is characteristic for Bayards. By combining these qualities with the availability of our production hall of 90m long, 30m wide and 18m high, it became possible to realise what we jointly pursued: the very first lightweight aluminium heli hangar for an offshore platform.”