Rob van Haren
Opened in 1914, the canal divides an entire country into two halves – the 82 kilometre waterway slices straight through the Central American country of Panama to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans for shipping. The Panama Canal is one of the world’s most important waterways, and approximately 14,000 ships travel it each year.
Based on current standards, the dimensions of the sluices and fairways are only suitable to accommodate moderately large vessels. This led to the decision to expand the Panama Canal to keep up with the latest developments and to stay one step ahead of the competition.
The expansion is the largest project the canal has seen since its original construction. The main purpose is to enlarge the sluices to allow Post-Panamax ships and container vessels measuring up to 366 metres in length and 49 metres in width to pass the canal. The plan was to widen the current sluices from 33.5 metres to 55 metres. This expansion will double the canal’s capacity, allowing freighters in the Post-Panamax class carrying up to 14,000 standard containers (TEU) to travel along the waterway. Canal expansion started in September 2007, and the project is scheduled for completion at the end of 2015.
One of our customers, a prestigious steel constructor from Italy specialised in erecting buildings and bridges, hydraulic engineering and the installation of pipelines, was contracted to build the sluice gates. These were manufactured in Italy and taken across the Atlantic to their intended destination aboard special ships.
Staco Deutschland produced approximately 5000 m² of welded, galvanised steel grating in mesh sizes measuring 34.3 x 76.2 mm and 34.3 x 24.0 mm for installation in the sluice gates. Staco welded gratings are supremely suited to industrial and offshore environments. Welded at each intersection between supporting member and crossbar, it creates a ‘one piece construction’ that delivers greater resilience and stability than other grating types. The twisted crossbars lend the grating anti-slip properties, ensuring they remain accessible even during damp conditions.
Staco electro-forged gratings type SP
Staco press-welded grating type SP, mesh sizes 34.3 x 76.2 and 34.3 x 24.0 hot-dip galvanised
Panama Canal, PA