Panama is the tropical backdrop to a prestigious multi-year Iv-Groep project. We are designing sixteen lock doors for the new lock complexes in the Panama Canal, the legendary passage for ships travelling between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The Panama Canal expansion project includes the construction of a third lane of locks alongside the existing lock complexes (the Gatun locks on the Atlantic coast and the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel locks on the Pacific coast). Like the existing locks, three different levels will be constructed one behind the other, raising ships from sea level to Lake Gatun at 27 metres above sea level. The locks are 60% wider and 40% longer than the existing ones, and each has three chambers. Double doors are being installed between the different levels to meet the stringent reliability and availability requirements. Each lock complex will have eight doors in total. The doors must be capable of withstanding hugely fluctuating water pressures, ship collisions and earthquakes. The entire lock complex must be available to shipping 99.6% of the time, a requirement with major design and maintenance implications.
Iv-Groep is part of the CICP design team together with MWH Global and Tetra Tech. We are responsible for designing the new lock doors and the transmission mechanism, including the operating system, RAMS analysis of the entire lock complex, and the supervision of construction work in progress.
The lock complex walls are made of concrete and are up to 33 metres in height. On the outside they taper down to a width of 30 metres at the base. The double lock doors are made of steel and are 31 metres high, 57 metres wide and 10 metres thick. Each door contains an average of 3500 tonnes of steel. The old locks are fitted with mitre gates, but the doors in the new locks will have roller gates, which on opening and closing will move horizontally at right angles to the direction of navigation.
The water-saving basins installed alongside the locks will enable re-use of 60% of the water.