Royal IHC has developed the Eco Control Package for trailing suction hopper dredgers. This automation and control system enables operators of trailing suction hopper dredger to find the optimal balance between production and fuel consumption. The Eco Control Package is the result of many years of research, involving dynamic modelling of the dredging process onboard of trailing suction hopper dredgers, extensive simulation studies and validation with operational measurement data. The Eco Control Package consists of several controllers, e.g. the Eco Pump Controller, Trailspeed Controller and Automatic Visor Controller. These controllers are integrally working together in order to find the optimal working point for the entire dredging process on a high system level. The Eco Control Package reduces the impact of disturbances from seafloor (e.g. sand dunes, changing soil type), wind and waves and creates a steady dredging process, resulting in optimal production and low energy consumption.
The Eco Control Package has been tested in operational conditions during dredge trials of trailing suction hopper dredger DCI Dredge XXI. These tests revealed that the Eco Control Package resulted in both a higher production and lower fuel consumption. The loading production during dreding was increase by approx. 15%, while at the same time the fuel consumption per m3 dredging production was reduced by approx. 15%. This showed that optimizing the dredging process and minimizing the effect of disturbances significantly contributes to fuel saving and reduction of CO2 emission from dredging vessels.
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