In 2014 for its 100-year anniversary, the
Panama Canal Authority is modernizing and expanding the canal between the
Atlantic and Pacific. The construction includes installation of new locks to
the two oceans, each with three lock chambers, and will allow much bigger ships
than before to pass through the Panama Canal.
hydraulic system solutions to the modernization process. With an availability
goal of 99.99 percent, the new design will guarantee a smoother flow of traffic
on one of the world's busiest waterways. But although the new locks are much
bigger, they will use less fresh water than the current technology and conserve
the region's water supply.
challenges on this project have been able to design our equipment to comply
with the specified seismic loads, working conditions or environment and the
uptime requirement," says Antonio Osio, application and civil engineer and
co-project manager for the Panama Canal Project.
Bosch Rexroth will
provide the operating machinery for the culvert, conduit and equalization
valves. "These valves are responsible to let water in and out of each lock
chamber or water basin," says Osio. "Our scope consists of hydraulic power
units, cylinders and electrical controls. This equipment has been designed to a
certain level of redundancy that will guarantee the uptime required by The
the Panama Canal began operating in 1914, steamships and sailing ships still
ruled the seas. Modern drive systems have also seen the size of ships increase
and 60 percent of the world's merchant fleet now no longer fits through the
Panama Canal. Once the locks are expanded, ships up to 366 m long and 49 m wide
will also be able to save on travel time, costs and CO2
the supplier of the steel construction for the wheel gates, South Korean
shipbuilder Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries (HSHI) contracted with Bosch Rexroth
in late 2010 to plan, construct and commission 158 customer-specific hydraulic
units and drive cylinders to operate the water-regulating wheel gates.
Each lock chamber
is connected to three water-saving basins via communicating pipes. To lift the
ships, drives open the corresponding inlets and the water from the water-saving
basins fills the lock chambers using gravity. Unlike the previous technology,
the water flows back into the basins once the lock operation is complete. Only
40 percent of the water required for one lock operation comes from the man-made
Gatun Lake. By contrast, the existing locks take the entire amount of water
required from the lake and then empty all of it into the sea. Despite the
considerably larger lock chambers, this means the expansion reduces consumption
of fresh water by 7 percent compared with the existing locks, ensuring the
regional water supply is conserved in a sustainable way.
places particularly high demands on the availability of the automation solution.
Over the course of 100,000 operating hours which equates to more than 11.5 years
of round-the-clock operation, the total downtime must be less than only four
a construction period lasting three years, the official opening is scheduled to
take place in its anniversary year of 2014.