Whether you are trying to clear sediment and debris out a harbor, stream or other body, you’ll likely need the help of a dredging machine. Dredging is the process of removing sediment from bodies of water to restore them for better use. So, how does dredging work? The machine will loosen up sand, sediment, and debris. To keep it from resettling, the unwanted sediment will be transported to a location where it can be processed.

When it’s time to clear out your local waterways, you’ll need to decide on whether to use a mechanical or hydraulic dredge. But how would you know which one to use, and what are the advantages of each? Learn more about their differences to help you make the best decision.


Mechanical & Hydraulic Dredging: Factors To Consider

There are a variety of factors to consider before choosing a dredging machine. You should consider costs, the indebted dredging area, equipment, and the labor involved. Below is a helpful breakdown of each and what you should be looking for.


Cost Efficiency

When it comes to cost efficiency, the hydraulic dredge is the clear winner. Hydraulic dredges can complete projects in about half the time as mechanical ones. It also does it with fewer resources. On top of that, hydraulic dredges use less material and have fewer maintenance costs.


Intended Dredging Area

After considering the cost, you’ll want to think about where you intend to accomplish your restoration project. Mechanical dredges are best for spacious environments that allow the excavator to operate freely. You’ll find mechanical dredges near shorelines. Hydraulic dredges are best for large bodies of water, where excavators might have trouble reaching materials. If you have a mining project in need of a dredge, a hydraulic one offers the most efficiency.


Mechanical dredging requires several support equipment pieces. This includes the primary excavator for moving sand, loaders to move sand to the shore, and trucks that deposit the sand to a nearby processing plant. On the other hand, hydraulic dredges directly transfer materials to the processing plant.



Since mechanical dredges require material to be manually transported, you’ll need more workers, which increases costs. With a hydraulic dredge, the debris is automatically transported to the processing plant, so you’ll need fewer workers, saving you money and time.

Choosing the Right Dredge

To fully summarize the above information, hydraulic dredges have several advantages over mechanical ones. From the capital and labor costs to the amount of equipment needed, hydraulic dredges offer more versatility and efficiency. Of courses, you should always consider what your project’s environment is before deciding which type of dredge to use. If your project needs are close to a shoreline, then a mechanical dredge may be just what you need. Choose a hydraulic dredge for projects in large bodies of water and save on costs.

Do you have a body of water that could use some restoration? Contact GLDD today. We’re the largest provider of dredging services in the United States. Our highly experienced civil, ocean, and mechanical engineers are fully trained in estimating, producing, and managing project functions. Our fleet consists of hydraulic dredges, contact us today.

The Ellis Island

The Ellis Island recently commenced dredging operations on Phase 1 of the MSCIP Comprehensive Barrier Island Restoration Plan in the U. S. Gulf of Mexico offshore of Gulfport Mississippi. With a 15,000 cubic yard capacity Ellis Island is the largest hopper dredge in the U. S..

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In 2006, GLDD adopted an Incident-and Injury-Free (IIF®) safety management program that has been integrated into all aspects of the company’s culture. The company’s commitment to the IIF® culture promotes a work environment where employee safety is paramount.

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Great Lakes Dredge & Dock (GLDD) is North America’s dredging industry leader, the largest provider of marine dredging, and the only U.S. company with substantial overseas operations. 

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