Research & Development is the foundation for state-of-the-art dredging processes in terms of technical, environmental and managerial competencies.
The dredging industry is constantly striving to improve its performance and to innovate, both with respect to technical and managerial efficiency, and in relation to the environment in which dredging works are carried out. Developing sustainable, efficient and cost-effective work methods, vessels, equipment and services are fundamental. To reach these objectives, dredging companies, dredging and supporting advisory organisations, scientific research establishments and universities are dedicated to ongoing research and development.
In-house Research & Development (R&D)
Most of the major dredging contractors have significant in-house departments and operations for R&D. Investments in the innovative work methods and state-of-the-art technologies are continuous. Through R&D greater cost efficiency and precision can be achieved in project design and engineering, in providing accurate estimation models for tender processes, and developing technologies to enter new markets such as offshore oil, gas and wind power facilities.
These research departments are involved in the improvement of processes, environmentally sound dredging methods and often the advancement of technologies to build more cost-efficient and environmentally responsible dredging vessels which includes building fuel efficient engines, improving hull shapes and finding alternative fuels
R&D at outside institutions
Dredging research is also funded in cooperation with dredging companies, dredging and supporting advisory organisations, scientific research establishments at universities and at government agencies. Knowledge centres, such as EcoShape and various European Union organizations, as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), located in Vicksburg, Mississippi and its Dredging Operations and Technical Support programme guarantee that the dredging industry is meeting the goals of a sustainable 21st century.
In the Netherlands, research programmes at the Stichting Speurwerk Baggertechniek (Foundation for Dredging Technology Research) also take place with industry support.
Privately owned research consultancies – such as Deltares, Danish Hydraulic Institute (DHI), HR Wallingford and Fugro to name just a few – are actively working on R&D on specific subjects at the request of dredging contractors and their clients.
Shipbuilders are also deeply involved in providing new technologies for more efficient dredging vessels for the modern dredging industry.
R&D at universities
Innumerable universities worldwide are actively pursuing research on dredging related subjects. Much of this research is funded by the major dredging contractors and carried out in collaboration with them.
At Delft University of Technology, at the universities in Ghent and Antwerp, and at Texas A&M in the United States, as well as other universities worldwide, students are examining research topics applicable to the dredging industry. This collaboration takes the form of supporting doctoral research and graduation projects. This may include as working as an intern at a dredging company where a thesis research project can be carried out.
Other universities in the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, India, Singapore, Australia and Japan invest in related studies such as civil, coastal and ocean engineering studies.