Precision Hydrographic Services (PHS) is an Australian-owned hydrographic survey company operating from offices in Adelaide and Karratha. Specializing in the acquisition, interpretation and reporting of seabed information, PHS has grown into a leading hydrographic surveying company, providing high-quality hydrographic survey services and support for port and harbor management, dredging operations, navigational safety, under keel clearance, object detection, debris clearance, coastal infrastructure, environment and habitat mapping.
Today, the company owns and operates three Sonic 2024s as well as a Sonic 2026. The multibeams are of crucial importance in allowing PHS to carry out its surveys effectively and efficiently, providing high-quality data often in time-constrained situations.
“A lot of our work is in the port environment for navigational safety and dredging,” explains Neil Hewitt, Managing Director at PHS. “They are shallow water, high-accuracy, high-resolution surveys – at maximum depths of about 18 meters …
“We were surprised to be collecting remarkably clean high-resolution data within a few hours.” he says. “We revisited an area that we had mapped with our older sonar and immediately saw the benefits of the narrow beam widths. The new system yielded a three-fold increase in resolution to our previous system. This moment set the tone for the coming years of our growth trajectory.”
For us, the cleaner the survey data that comes in, the easier it is to process. With the R2Sonic MBES, we can do a progress survey and have it back to the client on the dredge in about an hour. Noise in survey data can leave gaps. With clean data, however, you know you don’t have to go back and fill them in.”
Completing dredging survey projects across three ports in Western Australia often means round-the-clock work. Among PHS’ clients is Port Hedland, the largest bulk export port in the world by tonnage.
“The exports from Port Hedland are mostly iron ore,” says Hewitt. “So under-keel clearance is important … our tolerances are very tight. Dredging needs to be done very efficiently, because shipping doesn’t stop for dredging to take place. When the survey systems are running during projects, they’re in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week …
We’ve had a Sonic 2026 running that way for three months without a problem.”
PHS’ fleet of R2Sonic equipment has grown over time, but when the company was established in 2008, it needed to ensure it was investing in the right equipment at an acceptable price. “Being a small company at the time, we only had three people,” explains Hewitt, “and it was quite a large capital expenditure to invest in a multibeam system.
...The R2sonic systems were very attractive based on capability and price which were major deciding factors.”
Having used other survey equipment, Hewitt’s introduction to R2Sonic came with the Sonic 2024. “The data was amazing – it was so clean,” he explains.
“And the picture was ten times better than we had gotten with previous systems. The ease of use of the R2Sonic was also very simple. It just worked.”
Today, PHS runs its Sonic 2026 with R2Sonic’s water column upgrade, and has another system equipped with UHR functionality.
“The team enjoys using R2sonic equipment,” says Hewitt. “We’ve taken on a few graduates over the years. They pick up using it easily. It’s testament to the simplicity of the interface and the system itself.”
“Our dealings with R2Sonic are always pretty good,” Hewitt concludes.
“They know that we need systems serviced or repaired quickly. R2Sonic has been very responsive to our needs.”