The Technical Evolution of Hydraulic Dredging
WODCON XXIII - Dredging is changing - The Practice. The Science. The Business.
R. Wetta, W. Wetta
"From its inception in the late 1800's, the hydraulic, or pipeline, dredge has been the dominant machine used for near-shore and in-shore sediment transportation in the United States. These dredges were initially deployed to maintain sufficient channel depths to facilitate river navigation, port access and development. Infrastructure development after World War II created an inland market for sand and gravel mining dredges used in the production of concrete and asphalt. The material dredging market is at least an order of magnitude larger than the navigational dredging market in the US. Other public and consumer concerns, such as environmental remediation and coastal restoration, have created niche dredging strategies and equipment. Hydraulic dredges have evolved from steam powered, manually controlled devices to sophisticated, energy efficient machines designed to present minimal negative effects on the environment. The equipment being manufactured today incorporates advanced algorithms to predict pipeline lengths, elevations, particle grain size, and required transport velocities. Many of these machines assist the operator in controlling the dredge's navigational path and speed as well as the production rate. In the next several months, several dredges in North America will be deployed with autonomous capabilities that include artificial intelligence and real-time sub surface imaging and mapping with the primary goal of increased efficiency with less risk. This paper will show the evolution of dredging equipment over the past 100+ years alongside other technologies, discoveries and inventions through the same time periods."
Keywords: technology, efficiency, computers, development, visualization