Using Hydraulics to Expand the Panama Canal

Using Hydraulics to Expand the Panama Canal

The hydraulic industry has achieved enormous tasks. From helping airplanes take to the skies, to constructing massive sky scrapers in bustling cities, hydraulic equipment has a large role in creating the world as we know it. Just last year, Bosch Rexroth and Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries teamed up to expand the Panama Canal. The massive project included the installation of valves to assist in filling and emptying a lock chamber system. On top of that, a system of water-saving basins and valves to control the flow of water was also established.

In order to take on this massive project, which now allows ships up to 1,200 feet long and 160 feet wide to pass through the connection between the North American shoreline and Far East, hydraulic systems were necessary. Custom-designed HPUs, hydraulic cylinders and unique electronic control panels were utilized. In total, 158 complete hydraulic cylinder systems, controls and HPUs were manufactured in countries across the world. These components came from China, Germany, the United States, Netherlands and South Korea.

This large undertaking was years in the making, with the contract being awarded in 2010. Two identical lock systems were developed to handle the waters on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides. This feat was not an out of the box solution either, as new custom lock technology was designed in order to conserve water on both ends of the canal. With three chambers in each lock and three water-saving basins, the Panama Canal expansion has one of the most complex locking systems across the globe.

To ensure that everything continues to run smoothly in this shipping channel, every part of the system has redundant operation. This guarantees 99.9% availability, which is key for the Panama Canal that serves as a major international shipping gateway. If a water basin needs two valves to empty, four are installed. If a drive cylinder requires a power unit, there are two motor-pump units installed. This might seem exhaustive, but it is essential to ensure that this lock system continues to operate without fail.

Want to Add Hydraulic Power to Your Business?

At Bernell Hydraulics, we have over 40 years of experience in the hydraulics industry. We not only offer full lines of hydraulic components and out of the box systems, but we also build custom hydraulic equipment to meet your exact specifications. No matter how large or small your project is, we have the industry experience and knowledge to get it done for you. If you need assistance with preventative maintenance, diagnostic and repair services, Bernell Hydraulics can also help. We know the industry inside and out, so if you are looking to bring the benefits of hydraulics to your organization, let us help! Give us a call at 800-326-7252 or stop in to visit any of our four convenient locations in Southern California.

Posted on April 20, 2017