BIM Helps Double the Panama Canal’s Transit Capacity

Autodesk, Inc. recently announced that MWH Global, a leader in wet infrastructure projects and programs, including water, hydropower and civil infrastructure, has been selected to receive an Autodesk BIM Experience Award. The firm is being honored for using a Building Information Modeling (BIM) process, together with Autodesk BIM software, to help design the Third Set of Locks project for the Panama Canal, intended to double the canal’s shipping traffic capacity.

The award specifically recognizes MWH Global for the exemplary use of a BIM process to:

  • Improve the quality of design for the Third Set of Locks project of the Panama Canal.
  • Increase productivity and profitability by efficiently managing design changes.
  • Facilitate communication with clients and builders through visualizations.

“The use of intelligent 3D models on the Third Set of Locks project has brought significant benefit to the design-build delivery team,” said Nick Pansic, deputy design engineer for MWH Global. “These tools have enabled a diverse team of engineers – located in five widely dispersed design offices around the world – to collaborate efficiently, helping them to resolve design conflicts prior to construction and keeping project design and construction documentation better coordinated.”

Expanding the Panama Canal
Completed in 1914, the Panama Canal currently handles approximately five percent of the global shipping trade. The purpose of the expansion project, including the Third Set of Locks, is to make it possible for the canal to accommodate today’s larger ships, referred to as “Post-Panamax” ships. The Third Set of Locks project includes two massive lock facilities – one on the Atlantic side and another on the Pacific – each with three chambers. Innovative design elements include water basins that save and reuse 60% of the fresh water used in the lock system and state-of-the-art seismic analysis. New excavation began in 2009, and the project is scheduled for completion in 2014, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the opening of the original canal.

In 2009, the Panama Canal Authority awarded the $3.12 billion contract for the Third Set of Locks project to Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC). MWH Global is leading the design team’s joint venture called CICP Consultores Internacionales LLC (CICP), and is one of only two U.S. firms in the consortium.

“MWH Global’s exemplary work on the Panama Canal demonstrates how Autodesk’s comprehensive portfolio of BIM for infrastructure solutions helps civil engineers and designers take advantage of the rich information in intelligent models to improve the way they plan, design, build and manage projects,” said Jay Bhatt, senior vice president, Architecture, Engineering and Construction Solutions, Autodesk. “We’re proud to see our software playing a critical role in the success of this important infrastructure project.”

Autodesk Consulting assisted MWH Global in its transition from a predominantly 2D workflow to the use of intelligent 3D model–based processes for the Panama Canal Expansion project. Autodesk Consulting also provided MWH Global with initial product implementation and training services, and continues to provide product support and mentoring.

Source: Autodesk, Inc.

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