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One of the critical pieces of hardware for use in the mining of ferromanganesenodules is the collector - the device that travels along the seabed. Engineersfrom the U. S. A., Japan, and Germany cooperated to design, build, and testthese devices during an 18 month period that is an outstanding example ofinternational engineering. The collector development program outlined in thispaper was initiated in 1975 with the formation of a multinational consortium. Discussed are the significant phases of that program including landbased anddeepsea collector tests.
In 1975, an international consortium was formed with the purpose ofinvestigating the feasibility of mining the ocean floor for manganese nodules. The group consists of: INCO, Ltd. 01 Canada; AMR, itself a consortium, made upof West German companies; and DOMCO, also a consortium, made up of the Sumitomofamily of companies and other companies from Japan; and the U. S. oceandrilling company, SEDCO, Inc. Ocean Management, Inc. (OMI) was established tomanage the activities of the Joint Venture.
The four groups came together not only for financial reasons, but because theirrespective experience and technology complimented each other in such a diverseand new project. The overall project was divided into three sections:Exploration, Mining, and Processing. To further divide the work into specifictasks, a technical task force was chosen to visit all appropriate facilitiesand assess where each task could best be done. Those chosen would be an (R)partner - in other words responsible for that task and others who had interestor expertise would be (A) partners - assistance.
INCO was chosen as the responsibility partner and organized the collectordevelopment group in such a way that all the partners had important involvementin the project. Both AMR and DOMCO had major assistance tasks which involvedthe design, fabrication, and test of collectors. SEDCO's efforts wereconcentrated in the area of subsystem components and interfacing.
Within each company was a small group headed by one individual who wasresponsible for the tasks assigned to that group. Because of the fact that thedevelopments were done in geographically very distant places, the informationflow between the groups, directed through this person, had great importance. Generally he, and others as required, were present at the interface meetings. Although these periodic meetings were an important part of informationtransfer, the majority of communication was done via telex.
Both INCO and DOMCO utilized in-house personnel for the majority of thecollector development project. The AMR approach was to use outside consultantservices as much as possible, maintaining a managerial type staff within theirown group.
Inherent in the early stages of any design project is a period of conceptualdesign. Because all partners had previously been investigating ocean mining, conceptual designs existed in the respective organizations prior to theformation of our consortium.