International Dredging Review

International Dredging Review

DSC Dredge has received two patents that revolutionize the operation of small dredges and two trademarks for software that will improve ease and efficiency of operating a dredge. 

The first patent is for a Wide-Format Swinging Ladder (SL) Dredge.  

This type of dredge is constrained by the required excavation force and ladder weight limiting the dredge to canal work and other small projects. Swinging between two pontoons and with swing and digging depth limited by the length of the ladder the dredge can achieve a 60-degree swing at most with a shallow digging depth consistent with the ladder length.

DSC has designed the Wide-Format Swinging Ladder dredge to eliminate these constraints by allowing a longer ladder for wide swings and deeper digging depths.  

The design includes the new Carriageless Walking Spud (described below) by which it can walk faster than with a spud carriage and with a 90-degree swing and deeper digging depth it can be used in large contracts that demand higher production rates said William Wetta senior vice president of Product Development and chief technology officer for DSC Dredge. 

A set of foldable swing booms provide better swing cable geometry. Transverse flotation is accomplished with a traveling flotation tank that pivots with the ladder and moves axially as the ladder is lowered and raised through a series of lift sheaves.  

The dredge is held in place by three of the traveling spuds while the fourth traveling spud seamlessly resets. A swing of up to 90 degrees or 100 feet is possible with digging depth commensurate with ladder length.


Engineering drawing of the Carriageless Walking Spud.

DSC engineers are still working out engineering details on the dredge and will begin construction by the end of this year.

The second patent is for a carriageless walking spud developed in tandem with the new model SL dredge. The mechanism is bolted to the side or back of the dredge and uses a cylinder and swinging mechanism compared in operation to the glider on a children’s swing set to swing the dredge forward on one lowered spud without interrupting the dredging operation.

The walking spuds will be standard on the new SL dredge and DSC’s Moray Barracuda and Underwater Pump models can be retrofitted with them. The company will be installing them on new builds by the end of 2016 Wetta said. He is already installing the carriageless spuds on a Flexifloat barge. 

The purpose is to allow seamless dredging with no stopping to step forward Wetta said. The new spuds will put these dredge models in competition for contracts that demand high production rates.

The trademarks DREDGE RX™ and DREDGE MD™ allow a dredge to diagnose its own operation and in certain cases fix itself. 

RX is a diagnostic system that reports systems malfunctioning or out of adjustment.  This system will eventually be standard on all DSC dredges by the end of 2016.  

Dredge MD allows a dredge to fix itself when RX discovers a problem. For instance if a hy-draulic circuit is malfunctioning Dredge MD can re-calibrate that circuit. On initial startup using both RX and MD the system will per-form a scan that establishes a working baseline the dredge needs to adhere to. Once the dredge begins working the systems constantly compare themselves to the baseline. In case of a deviation a message is sent to the operator and even to DSC alerting them to the problem ahead of time allowing the correct action to be taken.

Dredge MD can be purchased as an option.

Dredges equipped with RX will send scheduled reports to management automatically.

“We are trying to make it all work in the background so the operator only worries about digging” Wetta said. This will simplify operation and reduce downtime and fuel consumption. The systems on a dredge equipped with both RX and MD will be almost robotic and easier to operate he said.

DSC plans a full roll-out of DredgeRX and DredgeMD at the end of this year in conjunction with a new operator display that is still in the design stage.