Hemelt: 1-of-a-kind dredge built locally for below-water work

Published 12:02 am Saturday, November 5, 2016

Bob Wetta told me one of the coolest things when describing his company and team members at DSC Dredge in Reserve.

“As a custom manufacturer, we kind of like the weird, wild and freaky projects that everyone else is afraid to do,” he said. “There is a decent market for that.”

Wetta, the president and CEO of the customized dredging manufacturer, shared that company mantra in the summer of 2015. He wasn’t kidding.

When we had a chance to speak again with each other this week, it was about a one-of-a-kind project DSC is nearing completion on that could positively impact the company for years to come, all while charting a new path for the industry.

DSC is scheduled to ship — in approximately 35 truckloads — a Cutter-Suction Hydraulic Dredge to Oregon in January.

Designed to dig sand and gravel in an inland pond, the dredge, when fully assembled, weighs close to 1.8 million pounds.

It boasts a dredging depth below the surface of the water of 155 feet.

DSC Dredge previously built a custom product that reached 200 feet below the water’s surface but that effort didn’t include a cutting attachment at the end of it and simply relied on high-pressure jets to loosen material and pumps that would suck up the targeted items.

The Cutter-Suction Hydraulic Dredge, which has been in the concept phase for at least six years and under production since July of 2015, took 10,000 engineering man hours to create and will be need 70,000 man hours to build.

“This kind of fits our niche,” Wetta said this week. “We talked about how we like these crazy things. There really are no other manufacturers of dredging equipment in the U.S. that would try to tackle something like this. You have to have a pretty good size engineering staff with people who have experience with larger equipment.”

The Cutter-Suction Hydraulic Dredge took 10,000 engineering man hours to create.

The Cutter-Suction Hydraulic Dredge took 10,000 engineering man hours to create.

The Cutter-Suction Hydraulic Dredge will allow DSC’s customer, an aggregate producer of concrete and building materials, to target sand and gravel more than 150 feet below the water’s surface.

Wetta said many new concepts have come to life with the project, including the dredge ladder that goes down with the cutting attachment, which was fabricated out of a three-quarter inch steel plate.

The dredge also floats itself and is all-electric, operating basically off a giant extension cord. The dredge is close to 5,000 horsepower when installed with all components.

“I can think on one hand what our major projects all time are, and this is one of them,” Wetta said. “It may be No. 1. This is a new type of dredging machine for the West Coast. They usually use different types of machines so, knock on wood, if this does what we think it’s going to do, it could open up a whole bunch of more sales for this type of equipment on the West Coast.”

Wetta said a team of nine members from DSC Dredge would accompany the delivery to Oregon and spend 45 days making sure the dredge is functional to the customer’s standards.

Stephen Hemelt is publisher and editor of L’OBSERVATEUR. He can be reached at 985-652-9545  or stephen.hemelt@lobservateur.com.