Shell Deploys New ATEX-rated PowerQuick Ascender on North Sea Rigs to Increase Safety and Work Access
Dayton, NV -- PowerQuick, Inc. announced today that their PowerQuick ascender was awarded ATEX certification, making it the first powered climbing device to be approved for use in hazardous environments. The testing was conducted by TRL Compliance, Ltd., West Lancashire, UK with financial support and technical assistance from Shell U.K. Limited who is deploying the devices on offshore platforms in the North Sea; however they expect the technology to quickly spread throughout the oil industry.
The PowerQuick Ascender, which was originally developed for US Special Forces under a Defense Advanced Research Program (DARPA) contract made international news in 2006 as the first battery-powered climbing device in the industry, for which technology developer Quoin International, Inc of Carson City, NV was awarded a DARPA Developer of the Year Award.
While the mere mention of a powered climbing device conjures images of Spiderman-like superhero tools, the PowerQuick Powered Ascender is serious business. The ascender operates like a personal elevator. It allows personnel to work at heights or below ground as in rescue or below platform operations with greater safety and less fatigue. This reduces chances of injury or death form accidental falls. To use the PowerQuick ascender simply attach the unit directly to the climbing rope, attach it to the climbing harness, then pull the trigger, and up you go. Unlike standard winches, the PowerQuick system literally climbs the length of the rope instead of collecting the rope around a capstan. The PQ-500 is rated for 500 pounds so it can lift personnel and/or equipment at a speed of 0.7 ft/second (.22m/sec). It also has a remote control and works with standard climbing equipment. The main focus however is on increasing safety for the workers by eliminating climbing fatigue, as well as reducing operational costs.
The PowerQuick Ascender is currently used in tower, building maintenances, wind farms and other applications, the ATEX certification now allows the technology to be used in industries where there is a potential explosion hazard, such as oil installations, grain elevators and some confined entry applications.
“Companies in these markets have been anxious to use the ascender, but we still had a lot of work to complete before it would pass certification for use in hazardous areas,” said Cathy Jacobson, CEO of PowerQuick Inc., which manages the product through a Bonanza-Miura (P) Ltd., manufacturing joint venture. “Richard Brooks, who started PowerQuick, UK to distribute the ascender in that part of the world, worked directly with Shell to get the testing completed. As a small company struggling with expansion, it would have been a long time before we could fund the development and test effort without Richard and Shell. They had a need, believed in the product, and stepped up to the plate with the funds,” she continued.
“We’ve made a lot of changes and improvements since we first introduced the technology,” said Jacobson. We redesigned the PowerQuick for rescue service and telecommunication/construction industries and other industries where people had to struggle with manual climbs for high-angle rope access. Now a person can safely go hundreds of feet by pulling a trigger. We used feedback from customers such as National Grid to make continued improvements. PowerQuick is now being sold around the world for military tactical, commercial, rescue and work-at-heights applications,” said Jacobson. “Our major customers so far have been international military organizations, the tower industry, arborists, building maintenance companies and the entertainment industry. In fact, the Ascender has been featured on The CBS show “NUMB3RS”, Discovery Science’s “Beyond Tomorrow,” and most recently the MTV’ reality show “Parental Control,” and Discovery’s “Smash-Bang” both of which will air internationally later this year.
Shell will use the ascender initially for maintenance of off-shore platforms, but the applications should soon expand as they become more experienced with the ascender‘s utility. It is the operators who come up with most of the new ways to use the product, said Jacobson.
“The PowerQuick is a safe versatile machine, and this certification will open an entirely new set of markets for us and provide a much needed tool for an industry where safety takes on a whole new set of challenges. The new hazardous environment version will be is called the PQ500-AX. It’s not often a large company like Shell is willing to bet on a small company like ours. While this will kick us off in the new industries Shell will always be our favorite customer,” said Jacobson.
For videos of the PowerQuick ascender visit their web site at www.powerquickinc.com.
For photos contact Cathy Jacobson 775-882-8100 Ext 1103
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