“The gates are on the way, the construction is going well, and we hope that Panamanians will come and see the gates working in January 2013,” said Sergi Ametller, Electromechanical Works manager of Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC).). At present, there is a 30% advance on the first gate.
The third set of locks of the Panama Canal is a cornerstone and includes the installation of 16 gates, eight on the Pacific and eight on the Atlantic, making a total of 50,000 tons of steel. These gates are different from the current ones because they are much larger: the largest has a height of 33 meters, is 58 meters long and 10 meters wide, explained Ametller.
It is expected that manufacturing will be completed by September this year and the first four gates will arrive in January 2013, he added.
The production planning is initially established and is being followed closely by several engineers of GUPC living in Italy and the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), he said.
The new structures, unlike current ones using a hinge mechanism, are sliding gates and are opened and closed like a home garage, Ametller explained.
The gates are large metal structures similar in construction to a ship, that slide perpendicular to the channel with the help of some trollies and they close each chamber like sliding doors.
Several buildings will be installed that will trigger the drum motor which is wound steel cable that pulls them, allowing an opening and closing time of four to five minutes. This mechanism will save maintenance time, since it can move from the water and run dry without removing, as is done today.
Ametller said: “This is technology that is used throughout the world with this size locks”, plus it can go to a repair yard if necessary, every 15, 20 or 30 years.
The gates are assembled “as if by a layman” to form a block. It is a slow process because they are some of the largest gates being built in the world, and there are many people involved in Italy, making these parts. The job is submitted to great quality control”.
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