5 Steps to buy the best Cutter Suction Dredger

Buying a Cutter Suction Dredger (CSD) is a big decision. They are expensive and have a lifetime of 10, 15 or sometimes more than 20 years. To make it more difficult there are many suppliers all telling you their CSD is the best. It is important to buy the CSD that is the best fit for you. So here are the 5 Steps to Buy the Best Cutter Suction Dredger.

Step 1: Define the technical requirements

The first step is to define what the technical requirements are. This means that it should be clear what the Cutter Dredger must be able to do. These are matters like the dredge depth, ability to change anchors itself or with support boat, current water depth, hardness of material to dredge, discharge distance and many more.

Consider not only the first project that the CSD is going to do, but also expected subsequent projects. If you buy a CSD for only one project, then this is easy. But in most cases the lifetime of the dredger is longer than a single project. It would be a shame if you buy a CSD that is not suitable for the projects that are up for tender when the first one is over.

Step 2: Define the production requirements

The next step is to define how much production you need from the equipment. Projects have a deadline in which you need to dredge all the material. Also think about the factors that influence the production. A production of 500 m3/hr on a discharge length of 500 m has different requirements than the same production on 2,000 m discharge length.

For the same reason the soil needs to be defined, as there is a huge difference between dredging silt, sand, clay or rock.

For this step again consider not only the first project, but any expected subsequent projects as well.

Step 3: Make a technical selection

Based on the requirements found in step 1 you can make a first selection of the size of CSD. This is your first selection and basically the minimum size CSD you need. The CSD that is just able to fulfil the technical requirements.

Also consider equipment combinations. For example, when you need to discharge very far you might think you need a large CSD, but a small CSD with a booster station might also do the trick.

At this point it is more important to get a list of options that are at least capable of fulfilling the technical requirements. The final choice comes later.

Step 4: Make an operational selection

Taking the selection of CSDs from the previous step you need to check if they can achieve the required production.
This is done by making a production estimate for any option that you have. Any option that does not meet the production requirement is eliminated.

When the production requirement is high, consider that two small CSDs might do the same production as one large CSD. Depending on the future projects a smaller CSD might be a better fit for those projects.

Once the options have been narrowed down you can go to the next step.

Step 5: Make final choice

The final choice of CSD should be made on the unit rate. If you want to know more about the unit rate have a look here. It is tempting to make the selection based on purchase price alone, but generally speaking the larger the CSD the more competitive, provided you can keep it occupied with work.

Specific optional equipment might increase the CSD’s production and competitiveness. Such as anchor booms, a spud carriage, a booster station and others.

The unit rate of a CSD is calculated by converting the production estimate into a cost estimate. You do this for each option that passed step 4.
The option that has the lowest unit rate, not only for the first project but also the subsequent projects, is the best option for you.


These are the 5 steps to buy the best Cutter Suction Dredger. I can imagine that some steps are difficult to make when you are new to the dredging industry. Our dredging consultants are capable in helping you with each step. Just contact us here so we can talk about how we are able to help you.

What do you think is the most difficult step to make? And why? Let us know in the below comments box.

To your long term success,
Timon Vinke

2 thoughts on “5 Steps to buy the best Cutter Suction Dredger

    1. Hi Hendrik,

      Thank you for the comment.

      I agree those are factors in the decision as well. But in my opinion any professional dredge vessel supplier has these factors under control. Either by themselves or through their subcontractors.

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