Skip to content

Use Case

Planning and Monitoring Dredge Maintenance Operations


Dredge maintenance is an essential operation to ensure navigable waterways. Tasks and planning associated with dredge maintenance is the responsibility of the United States Corps of Engineers (USCAE), who has regularly partnered with academic researchers to improve how dredge decisions are made. A vital component to annual dredge planning is the scheduling of a dredge fleet to job locations throughout the year. These decisions rely on information regarding waterway network connectivity, dredge fleet production rates and capacity, environmental limitations from protected animal species throughout the year, and federal budget limitations. Existing planning tools that assist USACE in these planning efforts rely on regular and reliable access to these data sets. This use case will demonstrate how the TransMAP Hub will be used to support existing dredge planning efforts and expand the capabilities for users to monitor and adjust these plans throughout the year.

Target User(s)

TransMAP Hub will connect with Civil Works Business Open Application Programming Interface (API), as well as the National Channel Framework service available via ArcGIS. These sources of data will be supplemented with the import of off-line USACE databases for environmental restrictions, dredge fleet characteristics and existing dredge operations plans.

The TransMAP Hub users for this use case are both the USACE leadership and operations teams, as well as industrial and civil engineering researchers from academia. TransMAP will also enable interested industry representatives from the dredge industry to better plan for dredge bids and improve partnerships with the government.

Pre-TransMAP Hub Conditions

The information made available through the TransMAP Hub in this use case is currently not available to users in a single platform. The task of dredge planning currently requires the technical capabilities needed to access 3rd party APIs, existing relationships within the USACE to obtain off-line spreadsheets with key data, and a computer system that can interact with the ArcGIS platform. Beyond these access limitations, planners and researchers are also currently hindered by the inability to monitor updates in the information they are using and often are left to determine which data set found in an online repository is accurate.

Post-TransMAP Hub Conditions

Once the information described in the previous sections is imported and/or linked to the TransMAP Hub, ongoing maintenance will be done in two ways. First, waterway network information, dredge job location information and dredge fleet capabilities will be automatically maintained through the data exchange with the Civil Works Business Open API and the National Channel Framework. Second, dredge financial data, existing dredge operation plans (e.g. updated schedules from USACE logistic planners and academic researchers incorporating TransMAP information into their decision making tools) and environmental requirements (updated irregularly by the Environmental Protection Agency) will need to be retrieved from the source and uploaded on a regular schedule. It is anticipated that these updates would be no more frequently than once per month.

Advantages & New Capabilities

Users of any level of maritime experience will find reliable access to a current representation of the United States inland waterway network that includes the following components:

  • Location of locks, dams, and any other critical infrastructure element that may impact movement of dredges
  • Historical dredging locations
  • Waterway pathways for possible flow of dredges between potential jobs
  • Home “base” (e.g. port) of each potential dredge that is available for dredge operations

Users will be provided a visualization platform to evaluate future dredging schedules, current status of dredging operations and historical execution of dredging maintenance. Visualization opportunities include the following

  • Dredge jobs filtered by size
  • Dredge jobs filtered by environmental restriction(s)
  • Dredge jobs filtered by day/month in which they are scheduled
  • Viewing characteristics of dredge fleet
    • Dredges filtered by type: government-owned or commercial (private)
    • Dredges filtered by region
    • Dredges filtered by mobilization speed
    • Dredged filtered by operational characteristics
      • Dredging rate
      • Dredging cost per cubic yard
  • Dredge job locations not available for operations due to future environmental windows in a specified time interval

Users will reduce their time and effort required to obtain the following data elements needed for dredge scheduling and maintenance decisions and performance analysis.

  • Budgetary information by year
    • Individual dredge cost per day (includes labor, equipment and fuel)
    • Individual dredge mobilization cost
    • USACE budget amount
  • Dredge requirements (predicted and actual) for a specified year
  • Environmental restrictions by location and animal species for a specified year
  • Time-expanded dredge schedule for a particular year
  • Maritime network component locations at a specified point in time
  • Historical summary reports of maintenance operations that include
    • Total cubic yards dredged per job location
    • Cost analysis
      • Amount spent on dredge mobilization
      • Amount spent on dredge operations
    • Dredge plan efficiency
      • % of overall dredging needs satisfied in a particular year


The main challenges for the user to have a successful experience with accessing dredging information from TransMAP Hub is their existing level of dredge knowledge. For example, if a user is not aware of the role of environmental protections on dredge schedules, they may fail to access that information when visualizing or downloading information for their analysis.

The main challenge for TransMAP Hub in this use case will be establishing and maintaining a formal acquisition relationship with key USACE contacts in order to regularly populate TransMAP Hub with the most current operational and planning information.

Frequency of Use

Planning efforts at USACE typically are done by region and occur at multiple times throughout the year. Therefore, it is anticipated that this use case would be exercised approximately once per month. However, maritime researchers seeking to assist USACE with tools to improve dredge operations planning will likely utilize the resource on a more frequent basis.


Chase Rainwater

Associate Professor, Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies (CAST)

Last update: 2021-06-30