DredgingToday.com Podcast: WODCON XXI


Welcome to the first DredgingToday.com Podcast, with our host Rosie Moth of RedMeters.com. 

In this episode we will be discussing last week’s World Dredging Congress & Exposition (WODCON) dredging conference with industry experts: Jay Wise of Kruse Integration, Steve Rutherford of Caterpillar Industry Solutions and Harry Steve of Cable Arm.

The Western Dredging Association hosted the 21st World Dredging Congress & Exposition, the WODCON XXI, at the Hyatt Regency Miami last week, from June 13-17.

The conference showcased around 120 technical papers over three days covering all aspects of dredging and maritime construction and also featured dredging short courses, a technical exhibition and technical visits.

Download the podcast here.

The transcript:

Rosie Moth: Welcome to the Dredging Today Podcast, delivering expert dredging coverage. This is episode one, I’m your host Rosie Moth of RedMeters.com. This episode we’ll be discussing last week’s WODCON dredging conference with industry experts: Jay Wise of Kruse Integration, Steve Rutherford of Caterpillar Industry Solutions and Harry Steve of Cable Arm. Welcome to the show guys! We’re really grateful to have you on, let’s go ahead and dive right on in. So this year it was the 21st World Dredging Conference, that was held in Miami – probably one of the more ideal places to hold it! Was it your first year, I’m guessing that all three of you guys this wasn’t your first show? You’ve been to here a couple of times?

Jay Wise: Kruse Integration, we’ve been doing the WEDA shows for several years, but this is our first WODCON show.

Steve Rutherford: At Caterpillar this is our first WODCON show as well.

Rosie Moth: And what about you guys at Cablearm, is this your first WODCON as well?

Harry Steves: No, no. We’ve been going to these for quite a while, we definitely do WEDA every year.

Jay Wise: Well for the same reason, Kruse Integration we go to the WEDA and the WODCON. We’re just excited that – I know it’s every nine years WODCON comes to the states, because it does other countries. WEDA shows certainly are regional, and we see our contractors in stands as part of them regularly. The same reason as advertising – whether you get something out of it or not, it’s intangible. Sometimes you get sales at the trade shows, sometimes not. But if you’re not there, you’re not representing, and people are thinking ‘Why aren’t they there?’. And it’s a good way to confirm your existence, and stand in front of your customers and talk about what new things you’ve done. You always sit around and chat while you’re having your lunch or breakfast, or coffees, and stand in front of your booth and hand out your new literature. It was interesting this year for us to meet some people from Asia, and from the Middle East, and from South Africa and parts of Africa – which we don’t normally get at the yearly WEDA shows. So that made a difference for us to meet some of those, and especially some of them from the Netherlands because in our industry that’s where some of the competition comes from – the Netherlands, there’s not much locally here in the states.

Harry Steves: I agree with you Jay. The opportunity to get in front of contractors, other suppliers, academics, and engineers, consultants is just great! And we can tell them about our products, we can listen to their problems – you know as a supplier ourselves, we listen to what contracts come about and what problems they have, so we can offer better solutions in the future.

Steve Rutherford: And kind of building on that from Cat’s perspective, much of what we’ve talked about is our global footprint – so this was our opportunity to take part in that global footprint, we considered it pretty pivotal as we’ve ratcheted up our engagement in the dredging and marine construction business, we felt we needed to be deeply engaged in the organisations that support it. Being a premier sponsor at WODCON, we felt that was pivotal to our engagement in the industry and it served us very well.

Rosie Moth: Ok. It sounds like the dual advantage of having it on your home soil and having everybody from around the world coming to where you are; that in addition to what WODCON does and what it represents in the industry – kinda sounds like a no-brainer! Tell me, do you feel like you’ve achieved that, do you feel it lived up to your expectations?

Steve Rutherford: Oh yeah, we felt like it lived right up to our expectations. The global points of engagement that we had the opportunity, as the other guys mentioned, folks from the Netherlands, folks from China, folks from South America – it is an excellent way for us to, very rapidly, communicate with the various participants in the industry. You have to travel the globe to have those points of engagement, and be able to talk to them – the real players. The other thing is it’s not just… it’s very important people at that show and at that conference, and being able to spend time with them is very useful for us.

Jay Wise: That’s a very good point. Typically at the regional WEDAs, the yearly ones, you may get an engineer or a surveyor or two from each of the dredging contractors, and a few of them from the army corps. To a show like this, each of the contractors came out with strength from owners, down to middle management. So yes, the right people were there to talk to. Any of of the new projects were discussed. I saw contractors that compete, talking with other contractors – Just a wide open forum on the floor, it was very nice. And the evenings! I was surprised that they continued on into the evenings with all the activities. You know, much like on a golf course (I don’t golf!) – a lot of sales happen on the golf course, a lot of the discussions continued on to the evenings. They had some very good activities on each of the evenings.

Rosie Moth: They had a great schedule of not only events going on and a lot of footfall and turnout from the people in the industry, but they had quite a few technical sessions that were going on, and different keynotes and things. Were any of you involved in any of the technical sessions or keynotes, or anything?

Jay Wise: I was not this year, I typically do – just been a very, very busy season. You do get a lot out of those presentations. When you stand up in front of fifty or sixty people, and at the end of a session you have ten asking questions and they come back to the booth sometimes, you’re not just educating people but you’re getting sales out of them. Unfortunately Kruse Integration did not present this year, did either of you other two?

Harry Steves: Cablearm did not.

Steve Rutherford: At Caterpillar we provided some technical papers, revolving around the mission standards and how that affects the product – the operating cost of that product and how we use technology to offset the complexities of those emissions, to enable the customer to continue to get the benefit. We tried to package it in a non-salesy way, a way in which nearly any engine manufacturer could utilise. You know those events are not directly about sales, it’s more about the technical aspects of what it is you want to talk about. I think it’s important that the industry know about that and promote that. I think we’re going to talk a little bit about sustainability and the environmental stewardship, and being able to promote that we’ve got low-emissions solutions – we’re doing what we can do to support the environment – I think is an important part of that. That’s the angle that we try to use.

Rosie Moth: Mhm, absolutely. And you’re diving perfectly into my next question, thank you for that! I’m not sure if you guys would agree – but in and of itself, it’s one of those industries that has to be sustainable for it to continue, because you have to be able to continue to do what you are doing for the future. So tell me about how you are implementing sustainability best practices?

Steve Rutherford: I think I can take that one a little bit. With Cat, sustainability is one of our core values action that we try to demonstrate every day. We’re not talking about just economic sustainability, but also environmental sustainability. We believe that’s really the only way to conduct your business and the dredging and marine construction business is such an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that. We, late last year, had a conference on the restoration of natural infrastructure that revolves around water, and look for ways in which we can utilise some of our strengths to be an active participant in doing that. Things like beneficial use of soil, or remediation of soils, clean-up efforts, that sort of thing. That falls right into helping our customers be successful with the products that they have, and also being part of a larger solution of, say, coastal protection or, you know, dealing with clean-ups after events like Superstorm Sandy – being part of those kinds of activities falls right into what this industry is all about.

Jay Wise: It’s no longer the time that when dredges started coming out, some of the big boys were making dredges in the US back in the 50’s and 60’s – over-engineering things so they’d be beefy and work for a long time. You know, pumps were inefficient, dredges were inefficient. The materials they used were over-wasting, and they weren’t automated – they were inefficient. And in 1997 when Kruse Integration decided to put a division together, specifically for the controls of dredging – we were concentrating on making it more efficient, so you have less losses, less waste, less use of energy, pumps not always on when it’s not running material, actually controlling the flow and speed of pumps (so you don’t wear it out), so you’re not over-dredging, we’re also doing automatic contour control. So when they have an environmental site that needs to be dredged or even a marina or a channel, that you just drop in the advanced channel design into our system, and it will automatically run that – it will automatically dig that contour so you’re not over-dredging. Now of course that dredge is going to be more efficient, without controls and operators watching – he doesn’t want to stall the cutter, he doesn’t want to walk over a cable, he doesn’t want to plug his line, he doesn’t want to have too much pressure on the hose. So those types of things we take from the operator to make it more efficient, or even new operators can be operating a dredge at high efficiency and that gives you a better environmental impact. You know, less over-digging, less use of fuel and energy on the dredge – so we’re attacking it from that angle, the controls angle. Whilst giving reports to any environmental agencies that require it – because we make ourselves equal with a nice open database, using off the shelf software and off the shelf products in every case.

Harry Steves: Yeah, yeah I was going to agree with Jay he’s got that one absolutely right from the automation portions! We’re not dealing with taking the dredges completely over, but we just have to understand the contracts and where they’re going, understand the contractor’s’ goals and the way they get there. We have to understand how they work so that we can supply them with electronics and software that meet their needs, that they can actually use. The other aspect, as far as buckets are concerned, we’re helping I think in two ways – I think we’re providing a low-cost, or rather a reasonable-cost means to gain production on the contractor, as well as mitigate some environmental aspects in regards to turbidity. So kind of a two part question for us.

Rosie Moth: So for Red Meters, and what we do, dredging is one of the industries we work in. We also work in quite a few others, a big one being oil and gas, and something that we’ve found with sustainability, water and the use of water is something that they’re looking at in those industries. Is it similar in dredging?

Steve Rutherford: It’s a little different from the oil and gas water story. As Harry – he used the word turbidity – so for me dredging and marine construction isn’t making the water any worse! And I think the oil and gas water story is a lot of cleaning up the mess you’ve made, and not making a mess out of it. However I will say as it relates to wetlands replenishment, and a lot of the natural infrastructure – there’s a major content of how do we use nature, that how engineering with nature factor angle that the army corps engineer has talked about. How do we use nature and some of our marine construction techniques to work with each other as opposed to… I think it was a comment that Jay made – you just throw a lot of power at something and you moved on and you didn’t worry about the mess you’ve made. Now it’s about doing it, doing it right, not making a mess out of it and maybe adding a little bit as it relates to beneficial use and in cleaning up and making it better than what it was.

Harry Steves: I was just gonna say, the other aspect of sustainability where water is concerned is the de-watering of material and what to do with material that’s mixed in this water. So it’s a very huge problem and it’s so costly. A lot of projects take up this main resource, which is the funding, and it’s all about the treatments and the water processing of that material. So from that respect, making products that reduce the water content of the material as it’s brought out, can also help in that sustainability.

Jay Wise: One of the things that is not represented by any of the WEDA organisations where dredges, you’ll find a lot of them, and that’s the aggregate industry. That’s one of our other vertical markets. And there’s so many dredges in the sand and gravel industries, much more than the contractors have. And whenever they get any permits to do digging, they work around the ecosystem – they’re worried about snakes, turtles, what kind of deer are in the area – all that is taken into consideration to get permits. And more and more these days they’re not able to get permits because of that, and they just have to dig deeper. In order to do that you have to… you’ve got to modify your dredges – everybody’s coming up with new designs. If you’re an old dredge contractor, or manufacturer – we deal with all the dredge manufacturers – I’ve seen over the years how they’re getting smarter with their pumps, smarter with using less metal for quicker fabrications. They have to be able to do these things as they have to dig deeper, and the watering of the systems to get it back in and rid of all the loose material they just slosh back into the existing pond. Every time they leave that pond – normally it becomes a quarry or something – they have to have in their permit, they have to have what’s called a Reclamation Plan, they have to abide by that. They have to plant trees around when they’re done, they’ve got to make sure that angle of repairs is just right, and that’s where the automation comes in so they don’t have to put material back in to give them the Reclamation Plan they were supposed to have. So when you’re using contour control it does help the ecosystem. But yeah, there’s a lot – we’re not just in the seas, but a lot of contractors are in the lakes, and rivers and oceans, there’s a lot going on in the sand and gravel and that’s normally around the pinelands areas.

Rosie Moth: Beyond water, beyond environmental everybody within the industry is having to be smarter. When did you see the pivotal changes happen? Is this kind of in the past five years, past ten years?

Jay Wise: With working with all the local dredge, I mean stateside dredge manufacturers, we saw that change in mentality come out in the mid to late 90s, where they started realising we can’t just shove equipment down somebody’s throat – we gotta be flexible, engineered to what they want, we gotta engineer to what standards are, we’ve got to engineer to finances and also sustainability now. That hasn’t been that long, we’re talking twenty years now that I’ve witnessed. Other than that, all the old drawings kept on selling the same thing over and over again – over-designed equipment. And that’s the way of the past now.

Steve Rutherford: And I think you’re going to continue to see this whole beneficial use of the materials that are being pulled from underwater, the push to do that in an economic and environmentally friendly way, is going to continue to grow in the subsets of that – like coastal protection or increasing numbers of people who live close to the coast and they want to live in nice environments. And that’s going to be done by beneficial use of these materials in a cost-effective manner.

Harry Steves: I agree. The internet of things is becoming definitely more acceptable in industrial worlds, dredging being a little bit behind I would say in the overall scheme of things. They’re accepting it extremely well all the way from the managers, the engineers, down to the operators – so I think definitely an increase in the future.  

Rosie Moth: It sounds like we’re moving that way, but there’s still quite a lot more work to be done.

Harry Steves: That is correct.

Rosie Moth: Well we’re coming to the end of our time that we have for today, but Jay, Steve, Harry – when I say that it sounds like a boyband! Guys you’ve been fantastic, and thank you so much for joining us on our first podcast for Dredging Today. You can find more expert coverage over at DredgingToday.com, and again I’m your host Rosie Moth of RedMeters.com; the most accurate and reliable density meter available. Until next time guys we will speak to you soon!

Steve Rutherford: Thanks Rosie.

Harry Steves: Thank you very much.

Jay Wise: Thank you.