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Bosch Rexroth News

Bosch Rexroth’s global effort key to Panama Canal expansion

At the time, this project was the world’s largest construction site and consisted of 22km of interconnected piping.

Bosch Rexroth was challenged to expand the Panama Canal with the highest degree of lock availability to allow for today’s larger ships. The project resulted in 158 complete hydraulic systems, including six spare units, creating exhaustive redundancy that contributes to 99.99 percent lock availability.

Thanks to the opening of the extended Panama Canal, much bigger cruise and container ships can now pass through the connection between the Far East and commercial ports along the North American shoreline, including the eastern seaboard and Gulf of Mexico. Even though the locks are significantly larger than their predecessors, less fresh water is wasted for every lock operation.

Three water-saving basins for each lock chamber help reduce fresh water use. Once the lock chamber closes, it fills with water from the basins. Together, the three water-saving basins hold about 60 percent of the water volume to equalize each corresponding lock chamber. Therefore, only 40 percent of the water volume is lost by using the basins, saving water from the Gatun Lake. When the ship reaches lake level, the outer gates open and it can continue its journey through the Gatun Lake in the direction of the Pacific Ocean.

Apart from the technical challenges of the project, time played a decisive role. Rexroth needed to develop 158 customer-specific power units and drive cylinders for the valve operation to regulate the water flow. These compensating valves control the inflow to the lock chambers and water-saving basins. After final completion of the hydraulic drives’ design, the first partial delivery to the Panama construction sites had to be fulfilled by January 2013.

The lock system’s unique process and international service require as close to perfect equipment availability as possible to ensure the canal operates reliably. Because of this, all installations also require a redundant design, so every step through the Panama Canal has a backup. This exhaustive redundancy contributes to a lock availability of 99.9 percent.

Bosch Rexroth combined know-how and production capacities from China, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and the United States to complete this successful project.

Bosch Rexroth’s global effort key to Panama Canal expansion

Responsible for the content of this press release: Bosch Rexroth AG


Bosch Rexroth AG
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(+49 9352) 18-0
(+49 9352) 18-39 72

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