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Dredge Control & Monitoring Systems

Dredging vessels are designed for excavation activities. These are usually carried out underwater, in shallow or fresh water areas, with the purpose of gathering bottom sediments and disposing of them at a different location, mostly to keep waterways navigable. for port extensions, or for land reclamation.

Maximum efficiency and minimum labour costs are essential for the successful operation of dredgers. Wärtsilä’s products and solutions are designed to match this requirement, and are based on industrial state-of-the-art hardware components.

Wärtsilä’s dredger control technology allows control of the entire dredging process from one central station (one-man bridge operation). All relevant data for the production process and cost optimized control of the dredging operations are displayed to the operator.

Wärtsilä products for dredging applications are based on industrial state-of-the-art hardware components.”

Finding the right solution

The most advanced Wärtsilä systems, adapted to specific customer requirements, fully integrate the various functions, thereby avoiding costly interfacing problems. Of course, these functions can also be provided as separate Wärtsilä stand-alone standard systems.

Dredge control technology for the entire dredging process

  • Control and monitoring of the dredging process
  • Automatic functions and procedures
  • Production monitoring
  • Reporting, logging and trending
  • Dredge chart operations (survey system)
  • Diagnosis for the ship’s machinery systems

Special functionalities for suction hopper dredgers

  • Suction pipe position monitoring (STPM)
  • Draught and loading monitoring (DLM)

Special functionalities for cutter dredgers

  • Automatic cutter control

Process control

The dredge control and monitoring system (DCMS) is a highly integrated system with decentralised process interfaces, centralised controlling units, and human interfaces.

The control and monitoring system combines all monitoring and control functions required for the complete dredging installation using different task oriented mimic diagrams.

The human interface system consists of a series of mimic screens divided into functional groups. The basic design philosophy of the pages is to provide an easy-to-learn and easy-to-use “human-machine-interface” (HMI). The mimics indicate the status of the equipment in real time. All relevant process data are illustrated.

The final structure and layout of the screen pages is developed in close co-operation with the client, thus ensuring that the operator’s specific needs are addressed.

Dredge control and monitoring system

Reporting, data logging and trending

This feature directly measures all process data required for the operation.

All data will be sensed and logged in order for operational history analysis to be tracked, or for fault tracing by the operating and maintenance staff.

The recording and retrieval system is sufficiently flexible in its use and set-up to issue progressive production reports, including downtime summaries.

These reports are produced for both variable and specified time spans. The alarm history is recorded, displayed, and printed out as needed.

trending and logging mimic
The most advanced Wärtsilä systems, adapted to special customer requirements, fully integrate various functions, avoiding costly interfacing problems.”

Trailing Suction Hopper Dredgers

Suction tube position monitoring (STPM)

Indication of the pipe position, etc. can be either elements of an integrated DCMS system, or available as a stand-alone solution. All system associated actuators and sensors are connected to a PLC system.

The position of the side suction pipe in relation to the side of the ship is shown on a mimic screen. Using the values of various sensors, the STPM calculates the position and depth of the pipe. The calculation considers the values of the inclinometers and angle transmitters on the pipe, the draught and heel trim transmitter, as well as the tide data with respect to the given physical dimensions.

Suction pipe position smaller

Draught and loading monitoring (DLM)

The draught and loading monitor is used for continuous, quantitative determination of the dredged material.

The system provides the operator with a quick and complete overview of the status of the ship (draught, trim, heel, and hopper level), the operational data such as displacement, load, solid, and the actual operational mode. The measured and calculated data are clearly displayed on a dedicated screen.

Reports can be printed per dredging cycle trip, and comprise the most important data values and the loading/unloading diagram. The main trip data are also stored for later reporting and evaluation by third party systems using office tools, such as Excel. Various system data will be supplied via an OPC server, and can be transferred to supervisory systems via, for example, remote access.

draught and loading

Cutter Suction Dredgers

Cutter dredger control

The control and monitoring system for cutter dredgers consists of decentralised process interfaces and centralised controlling units. The PLC and the remote I/O components are connected via a fieldbus network. The system combines all the monitoring and control functions required for the complete dredging installation by means of different, task oriented mimic diagrams.

The HMI’s flexible design configuration enables the best possible usability in line with the customer’s particular requirements. All needed information is available at the dredge master’s desk.
This set-up typically includes an Automatic Cutter Control system for cutter head and cutter wheel dredgers. The system acquires and processes all data necessary for automatic dredging processes.

All signals and computed values are available for multi-display presentation.
Profile data, feed values, and alarm limits are entered via the control computers, which also allows the selection of different operational modes. 

Dredge profile monitoring

Automatic cutting control in different modes

The automatic cutter control assists the dredge master during the dredging operation, thus allowing reliable and efficient dredging, taking into consideration both the process and the dredging equipment. A number of functionalities are, therefore, included as follows:

  • Sequence controller for side, ladder winches and spud carrier
  • Swing speed controller
  • Side winch control system
  • Pump controllers for load regulation
  • Automatic controlling of swing speed and side winch forces
  • Density control
  • Profile, the ground is removed in vertical profile layers within the adjustable profile limits
  • Manual operation supported by semi-automatic controls if needed is available
Automation Cutter Control

Special solution


In the field of process automation and control Wärtsilä, in close co-operation with Jan de Nul B.V., a major dredging company, has developed a special solution for the dynamic positioning and tracking of a spraying pontoon for land reclamation. The solution includes, for instance, the following features: 

  • Positioning of the pontoon with four hydraulic winches
  • Automatic movement along predefined tracks
  • Automatic control of the pontoon speed or layer thickness.

The integrated monitoring and control system for the pontoon contains:

  • Process overview and control
  • Input of set values and parameters
  • Diagnostics
  • Alarm monitoring
  • Logging and trending
Pontoon process overview
Above all, we take care of the whole process from understanding what you need to implementation and in-service support.”

Contact us

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