DISCOVER Magazine #7

Hopping arround the world

Published in category: Markets

After many years building one-off Trailer Suction Hopper Dredgers (TSHD), Damen introduced its TSHD series into its portfolio about 10 years ago now. Since then a great deal has changed – in terms of market needs and available technologies. There has also been a lot of feedback from clients – giving the dredging product group various new ideas say Product Director Olivier Marcus and Design & Proposal Engineer Nicky Mayenburg.

TSHDs are perfect for maintenance dredging duties in ports and harbours across the world. The most notable change seen in this environment during the last ten years is the substantial increase in size, and therefore, draught of vessels. “Many ports now need to have a 24-metre draught to be accessible by the larger container ships,” informs Mr Marcus. “Besides this, numerous port authorities have started to perform their own maintenance dredging activities with their own vessels. This provides local employment and means that dredging can take place whenever necessary. The five TSHDs – for Russian and Australian markets – that we are building now illustrate this perfectly.”

Looking at the list of satisfied customers, what is the key factor in the success of the series? “What our clients really want is reliability,” continues Mr Marcus. “A TSHD must be designed so that it is easy to maintain. These vessels are often operating in remote locations and operators want the possibility to carry out their own repairs as much as possible.” Clients can select maintenance-friendly options during the design phase to achieve this. “Our global service network, including service hubs complements this.”

Client feedback has pointed out the value of dredge monitoring equipment: “There are several parameters that you need to keep a close eye on to optimise the process. And because the amount of experience our customers have varies, we offer training programmes. It’s one thing to sell a good product, but it’s crucial that the operator knows how to use that product to the best effect.”

“There is a direct link between the comfort of the dredge master and the productivity of the vessel – so ergonomics is also very important. Therefore we have paid a lot of attention to reduce noise and vibrations and increase comfort.”

“Within Damen we have developed many technical innovations over the last 10 years,” comments Mr Mayenburg. “More sustainable solutions like LNG or hybrid systems, for instance. More fuel-efficient propulsion configurations too. When considering these, the challenge for us is that we need to meet the needs of all of our clients – from the largest worldwide operating dredging companies to the smallest local operator. We have to ask what they need, what they want and what they can afford? Therefore, we offer various options on a ‘standard’ vessel – ultimately delivering the optimal design for an individual client.”


Damen is not the only shipbuilder in the world to construct TSHDs; so what makes one of their vessels stand out from the competition? Mr Marcus: “This is a very special situation, because we have the knowledge, the designs, the components, the worldwide orientated yards and the after-sales service. Our customers benefit from this combination of dredging and shipbuilding knowledge in that the finished product demonstrates the optimal integration of equipment and vessel.” In its role of total systems integrator, Damen has a cooperative relationship with its suppliers: “This area of the Netherlands is like the Silicon Valley of shipbuilding. There’s a lot of knowledge and lot of cooperation here – this benefits the whole industry.”

Building vessels for stock – on a speculative basis – is a strategy for which the company is well-known. While this approach is not without risk, it does have intrinsic advantages for clients. “It is about listening to the market and anticipating our clients’ needs,” explains Mr Mayenburg. “Building vessels on speculation allows us to guarantee the shortest possible delivery times for our customers. For example, of the six TSHDs that we are currently constructing, one is on speculation. This is a 2,000m3 TSHD that is well suited to the maintenance dredging market in almost all regions. It will be ready for the market – well equipped with equipment and instrumentation – in Q3 2016.”

“Damen’s foundations were actually built in the dredging industry,” says Mr Marcus. “We started off by supplying workboats to government and commercial dredging contractors. They needed equipment and they needed it fast. This lead to the company founder, Kommer Damen, to develop the idea of standardisation – building series of vessels with standard designs on speculation. The distinguished designs of the Multi Cat and Shoalbuster were first born this way, followed closely by specialist dredging vessels. It’s this combination of standardisation with the dredging know-how that is part of our DNA that has made us a leading supplier for the global dredging industry.”

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