Multi-criteria decision analysis for benchmarking human-free lifting solutions in the offshore wind energy environment

Richmond, Mark and Balaam, Toby and Causon, Paul and Cevasco, Debora and Leimeister, Mareike and Kolios, Athanasios and Brennan, Feargal (2018) Multi-criteria decision analysis for benchmarking human-free lifting solutions in the offshore wind energy environment. Energies, 11 (5). 1175. ISSN 1996-1073 (

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With single components weighing up to hundreds of tonnes and lifted to heights of approximately 100 m, offshore wind turbines can pose risks to personnel, assets, and the environment during installation and maintenance interventions. Guidelines and standards for health and safety in lifting operations exist; however, having people directly beneath the load is still common practice in offshore wind turbine installations. Concepts for human-free offshore lifting operations in the categories of guidance and control, connections, and assembly are studied in this work. This paper documents the process of applying Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA), using experts’ opinions for the importance of defined criteria obtained by conducting an industry survey, to benchmark the suitability of the concepts at two stages. Stage one streamlined possible options and stage two ranked the remaining suite of options after further development. The survey results showed that criteria such as ‘reduction of risk’, ‘handling improvement’ and ‘reliability of operation’ were most important. The most viable options, weighted by industry opinion, to remove personnel from areas of high risk are: Boom Lock and tag lines, a camera system with mechanical guidance, and automated bolt installation/fastening for seafastening. The decision analysis framework developed can be applied to similar problems to inform choices subject to multiple criteria.


Richmond, Mark, Balaam, Toby, Causon, Paul, Cevasco, Debora, Leimeister, Mareike, Kolios, Athanasios ORCID logoORCID: and Brennan, Feargal ORCID logoORCID:;