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DSC Completes First Installation of Dredge Diagnostic and Monitoring System

William Wetta in the simulator operator’s seat at DSC’s CONEXPO-CONAGG display. Photo by Judith Powers

William Wetta in the simulator operator’s seat at DSC’s CONEXPO-CONAGG display. Photo by Judith Powers

DSC Dredge has completed the first installation of its new diagnostic software on Cal-Portland’s new aggregate dredge, which was launched on March 8 at the Northwest Aggregates Company’s Santosh Sand and Gravel Facility in Scappoose, Oregon.

The launch took place during the CONEXPO/CONAGG show in Las Vegas, where DSC was introducing the diagnostic and monitoring system for the first time. The dredge is a DSC Marlin Series dredge 263 feet long, 52 feet wide and 45 feet high.

The dredge, which has a 155-foot digging depth, was delivered in 35 tractor-trailer loads, mostly escorted, from Reserve, Louisiana, to Scappoose, Oregon. The total assembled weight of the dredge is 1,840,000 pounds. A crew of 10 assembled the dredge in 45 days. It was tested on March 26, and connected to the shore-based processing plant on March 27.

With a discharge diameter of 18 inches, the dredge can pump rocks up to 12 inches in diameter. It can dredge 14,000 gallons per minute through the1,600-foot-long pipeline. With 4,800 hp/12,470 volts AC, and a cutting force of 66,000 pounds, the dredge can produce two million pounds of sand and rock per hour, and has a 30+ year design life.

The rolled steel ladder is a DSC design that provides exceptional stability, especially at extreme digging depths.


The patents for two of the three components – DREDGE RX™ and DREDGE MD™ – were granted a year ago. (See “DSC Announces New Dredge and Diagnostic Software Designs,” IDR, April/May 2016).

The medical designations RX and MD imply the cure and care for dredge malfunctions offered by the system.

The third component, AI, or Artificial Intelligence, has been added to create a system that will diagnose the dredge’s operation, and, in certain cases, fix itself.

On initial startup, using both RX and MD, the system performs a scan of all the sensors and equipment on-board to establish a working baseline the dredge needs to adhere to. Once the dredge begins operating, the systems constantly compare themselves to the baseline. In case of a deviation, a message is sent to the operator, to the home office, and to the DSC Dredge, where engineers will advise the customer of the correct action to take.

William Wetta cited a situation where a gauge or motor was not starting.

There are many redundancies on the dredge, he said, with spare instruments installed. If one shuts down, the spare is started immediately, allowing the dredge to continue operating.

If a velocity or density meter is out, the system can predict these values by analyzing the baseline and continue running, estimating the probable values, and avoiding a costly shutdown until the instruments can be repaired or replaced.

Dredge RX communicates with the operator, the home office, and DSC Dredge with daily email reports.

AI uses all the instruments to discover the length of the pipeline, the size of the material, the speed and power needed to move it, then sets the swing speed, cutter speed, Maximizer  (dilution valve), and if there is GPS on board, controls the swing and cutting depth profile.

On March 27, William Wetta was standing on the deck of the dredge, happy with the dredging and system tests, and waiting for its connection to the processing plant.

“The dredge is ready to fire up,” he said.

CalPortland produces aggregates for the construction industry on the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada, with operations in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, British Columbia, and Alberta. Founded in 1891, the company celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2016.

In addition to its aggregate products, CalPortland produces cement, ready mix concrete and asphalt, and is a construction contractor on infrastructure projects.

The company has a Zero Accidents for Life safety program, and lists safety as its top goal.

DSC Dredge is a major U.S. dredge designer and manufacturer, with its main office in Reserve, Louisiana, near New Orleans, and additional manufacturing plants in Poplarville, Mississippi and Greenbush, Michigan.

The home office sits on 16 acres, and boasts 27,000 square feet of work area, including a workshop area, manufacturing, sandblasting, paint, inventory, and a machine shop. Officers are Robert Wetta, president and CEO; William Wetta, vice president, product development, and David Miller, senior vice president of production, and COO.

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