Emerging Options: New technologies and equipment in the dredging market

New technologies and equipment in the dredging market

The equipment needs of the Indian dredging market have largely been met by foreign suppliers. Netherlands-based IHC Merwede is a leading supplier of dredging equipment in the country. The company has supplied over 100 dredgers to Indian dredging companies, both private and public.

Over the years, IHC has been undertaking several research and development activities to improve the operational efficiency of dredgers and dredging components. New designs have been introduced for components such as cutter heads, spud carriers, spud guards and pivoting gearboxes, to reduce fuel consumption and enhance productivity. The company has been deploying hoppers, cutters and other types of dredgers for carrying out dredging activities.

The equipment used for hopper dredging are dredge pumps, trailing suction pipe systems, dredge line components, training simulators, monitoring systems, artificial intelligence systems, production measurement systems and dragheads, while the equipment used for cutter dredging are dredge pumps, cutter dredger excavation equipment, cutter suction dredgers (CSDs), dredge line components, dredging control systems, training simulators, monitoring systems, artificial intelligence systems, production measurement systems, the IHC Beaver® information system and automatic cutter control systems.

The IHC BeagleTM

Designed with compact dimensions, the IHC Beagle™ is a trailer suction hopper dredger (TSHD), which is available in three capacities – 4,000, 6,000 and 8,000 cubic metres. The Beagle TSHD series are cost efficient, compact vessels with V-shaped hoppers. The modern bulbous bow design of the dredger results in low resistance. The IHC Beagle™ is equipped with a dredge control system (DCS), which is an efficient, fuel-saving system for the monitoring, control and automation of the dredging process. The integrated DCS enables efficient monitoring and control of vital dredging process equipment either manually, automatically or through the use of artificial intelligence. This includes suction pipes, gantries, swell compensators, overflow ducts, gate valves, dredge pumps and auxiliary equipment. The efficiency enhancing subsystems that can be integrated into a DCS are:

  • Automatic light mixture overboard: This is to ensure that only a mixture with a preset density is loaded into the hopper.
  • Suction tube position monitoring: This is a graphic system which ensures dredging is done at the right spot and depth relative to the position of the vessel.
  • Draught and loading monitoring: This ensures loading efficiency and indicates when to stop dredging so as to avoid overflowing.
  • Dredge track presentation system (3D-viewer): It indicates the position of the dredger and where exactly to dredge.
  • Trail speed controller: It maintains constant ground speed of the draghead and enhances suction efficiency.
  • Eco-pump controller: It controls the speed of the dredge pump and avoids air bubbles which can damage the pump and pipes.

A number of advantages are offered by the integrated IHC Beagle™ DCS:

  • No separate functional units and automation systems are required. Also, the DCS is well equipped with a separate suction tube position monitor, dredge profile monitor and automatic cutter controller.
  • The system is less vulnerable to cable failure.
  • Once a setting has been entered into the system, it is available for all sub-functions, thereby minimising work, mistakes and subsequent failures.
  • The modular design easily incorporates operator-specific preferences.
  • It is easily adaptable for altered operational requirements.
  • The robust, reliable sensors and automatic control of every board subsystem prevents damage and injury.

Besides developing new dredgers and dredging components, IHC also provides design and engineering services (equipment design, vessel design, hydrodynamic analysis and structural analysis), upgradation services (life-cycle engineering, renovations and feasibility studies), operation and consultancy services (marine operations engineering, dredging rental services and offshore rental services, among others), and maintenance services (repairs and docking management, parts and logistics, and planned maintenance services), among others. w

Based on a presentation by Kees Derks, area director, India, ROYAL IHC, at a recent India Infrastructure conference