At the British Engineering Excellence Awards in London on Thursday, 9th October Royal IHC's Hi-Traq trenching machine and tooling platform won the award for 'Mechanical Engineering Product of the Year'. Hi-Traq is the first 4-tracked subsea vehicle with fully independent suspension and steering. This gives unrivalled maneuverability and ability to cope with the full range of shallow-water terrain. The vehicle was originally conceived as a dedicated trencher for cable burial in offshore windfarms but is also being developed as a multi-purpose tooling platform for a wide variety of subsea installation, IRM and decommissioning works.

Ralph Manchester, Chief Engineer for Subsea Vehicles at Royal IHC's UK subsidiary - IHC Engineering Business (IHC EB), commenting on the award said "We are enormously proud of the Hi-Traq project; in testing our development machine has proved that the technology works and we look forward to seeing the vehicle in operation".

The project was internally funded by Royal IHC with support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Charlotte Pugh, Hi-Traq Project Manager at IHC EB, said at the awards ceremony "The design and build of Hi-Traq was a real team effort; everyone involved will take great satisfaction from this fantastic award".

For IHC EB, this award follows on from winning the BEEA 'Design Team of the Year' in 2011, for the Saipem FDS 2 J-lay system. The equipment is one of the offshore industry's most versatile pipelay systems, capable of installing large diameter subsea pipelines in water depths of up to 3,000m.

Winning these awards is a major accomplishment for both the business and every employee; working together to achieve something great, the future for this Northumberland based business has never been more exciting.

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