Pat Sanders announced a new feature for DREDGEPACK® users at the Hypack conference in early January. Dredgepack Viewer incorporates a bitmap image of an individual dredge into the software so a dredge operator will see his own cutterhead or hopper dredge with name and company logo on the screen.
The Coastal Oceanographics HYPACK® 2003 training conference was held outside Phoenix Arizona this year at the resort and conference center owned by the Gila Indians known officially as the Akimel O’otham – Pee Posh or People of the River.
Many users of Dredgepack HYPACK® MAX and HYSWEEP® software make this conference an annual event in early January attending three days of detailed instruction on the use of the software and explanations of the changes and upgrades in the software. This year around 300 people attended and there were 20 displays by vendors who sell survey-related equipment.
|!|I’m the only one who’s not selling anything here” said Sanders. “Everybody here is already my customer.”
Hypack Max is a data management package for hydrographic surveying that includes all functions from survey design through reports and incorporates data from all brands of survey and positioning equipment.
Dredgepack takes survey and positioning data to create a real-time view of the dredging operation including cutter or draghead position updated channel template and reports.
Hysweep is a multibeam processing package that manages the collection and reporting from all multibeam and swath survey systems.
The training begins with the basics. Sanders sets up two huge screens (see cover) one showing the items in the instructional CD’s that were distributed to all attendees and the other showing screens from the program itself.
“Starting a new project” he begins. “Naming the project refers to the area or other identifying feature. Each space automatically creates an underscore in the name” he explains. The entire course is characterized by this attention to minute detail the lack of which could hold up a project for hours while the users search through manuals and instructions or try to reach the right person on the phone.
When the presentation is over Sanders and the other instructors are available to answer questions and the surveyors and dredgers stand in line to get advice on specific problems they are having.
The training progresses from Case 1: Starting a new project to Case 113: ADCP- exporting current vectors. The Dredgepack cases were: preparing a filled matrix from XYZ data; obtaining cross sectional and longitudinal profiles in real time; and sample configuration for a cutter dredge and hopper dredge.
In 1982 Sanders was operating a one-person consulting firm. He had just left business school and had worked in oceanography and wrote a small program to process data and produce charts. By 1987 he was calling the program Hydrographic Package which he shortened to Hypack. He demonstrated it at the Oceans show in Halifax that year under his company name Coastal Oceanographics. But he didn’t sell anything.
When the Corps of Engineers in Saginaw bought it soon after that it opened a large market said Sanders. Today the Corps of Engineers is a major customer with the software standard in many districts. The New Orleans District has just purchased 13 licenses for their survey boats and is in the process of changing over.
When the Windows format was introduced by Microsoft in 1995 many users and software producers were leery of it but Sanders and his colleagues took a chance on it and put their software into this new format immediately.
“This put us in a head start position” he said because Windows quickly became standard for most PC applications. He added “Max” to the name to indicate the move into Windows.
The company has now expanded to around 13 people operating from offices in Middlefield Connecticut.
Coastal Oceanographics is extremely responsive to changes and improvements requested by users and as dredgers began asking for insertion of features on when and how deep they were dredging color coded history of digging and visual feedback on digging history addition of these features instigated development of the Dredgepack program. Dredge operators needed something simpler to work with and understand said Sanders. He kept the package simple but powerful so the average person can use it.
Sanders is working on a Dredgepack version of the 3D Terrain Viewer which is standard in the full version of Hypack Max and which allows the user to view an accurate image of the work area from any angle. (The training topics for 3DTV include “flying manually in 3DTV and flying along a planned line in 3DTV”) The 3D module for Dredgepack will show the channel dredge and bottom with ability to “fly” over and around the project. This module will be available in the next few months.
The software is in use all over the world with 60 percent of sales out of the U.S. This means that Sanders travels continually giving regular training sessions in China Japan Europe England India Russia and two in Latin America every year. In China Russia and Japan he uses interpreters and local users present certain topics in the native language.