PERI Systems Used on the Panama Canal Expansion Project


The expansion of the Panama Canal is currently the scene of the largest building site in the world with the two lock systems being the key elements in the whole project. The two facilities, on the Atlantic and Pacific sides respectively, are each around 1,800 m long and are expected to be completed at the turn of the year 2014/2015. PERI is supporting the contractors with the planning and delivery of huge quantities of formwork and scaffolding systems. For single-sided applications, the new SCS bracket is being used whereby simple handling and transfer of heavy loads were the main focus during the development of the product by the German company.

In three lock chambers positioned one after the other – each 403 m long and 55 m wide – ships overcome a height difference of approximately 26 m on the Atlantic and Pacific coast. This procedure is controlled by four lock gate installations. Further construction features – each parallel to the locks – are the three huge economizing basins. These serve the purpose of reusing about 60% of the water required for individual lock operations.

More than 12 months after the start of construction, the extraordinary dimensions and the massive structural elements are clearly visible. In order that the tight schedule can be maintained, over 4,200 site personnel process 6,300 m³ of concrete on a daily basis in two shifts.

Construction site facilities include 70 cranes and 30 concrete pumping stations. Furthermore, an immense need for formwork and scaffolding material along with a comprehensive overall concept is still required. With an international team of engineers from the PERI subsidiaries in Spain, Panama and Italy as well as PERI headquarters in Germany, PERI provides the consortium of building contractors with an ideal combination of formwork know-how together with the efficiency and ability to deliver innovative system equipment solutions.

The largest single order in the 40-year history of PERI is also a matter of real teamwork: PERI Spain and the PERI subsidiary in Panama are responsible for the formwork planning, logistics and on-site assistance, whilst PERI engineers from Weissenhorn provide their colleagues with expert support for all tasks. In time for the start of construction work in 2011, the required system equipment was produced and shipped to Central America in more than 300 40’ containers.

An essential element of the PERI solution is the new SCS Climbing System (SCS = Single-sided Climbing System) which can be used for single-sided applications for the construction of dams, sluices, cooling towers, pier heads, tunnels and bank vault facilities. The SCS climbing units are optimized for the respective requirements; this provides reduction of anchors and thus high system efficiency.

Project Data for the Construction Project of the Century
The goal of the gigantic construction measures is to double the capacity of the world´s most important waterway. Around 14,000 ships sail through the Panama Canal each year. After completion of the new lock installations – Gatun on the Atlantic in the north and Miraflores on the Pacific in the south – it will handle twice as many ships resulting in an increase in capacity from 165 to 300 million tonnes. In addition so-called Post Panamax container ships will then also be able to use the 80 km-long channel – these vessels are up to 366 m long and 49 m wide and can transport up to 14,000 containers per ship. Over the three-year construction period, approximately 6.6 million m³ of concrete and 337,500 t of steel will have been required; the total area to be formed is more than 2.2 million m².
Client: Autoridad del Canal de Panama (ACP)
Contractors: Grupo Unidos Por el Canal, SA (GUPC)
Joint Venture: Sacyr Vallehermoso, Spain; Impregilo, Italy; Jan De Nul, Belgium and Cusa, Panama
Field Service: PERI Panama, PERI Spain and PERI Weissenhorn/Germany

The modular system with multi-part brackets is flexibly adapted to suit the geometry of the structure; in addition, the same formwork can be used for the first concreting section as well as for the standard cycles. On slanted structural levels, the working platforms can be inclined by 15° and 30° thus allowing the platforms to be horizontally positioned which means site personnel can always work safely. For the extension of the Panama Canal, the SCS 250 with its 2.50 m wide platform is being used; with the formwork carriage and a retraction distance of 60 cm, sufficient working space is provided.

In accordance with the project requirements, the brackets are combined in different areas with either the flexible VARIO girder wall formwork or the proven TRIO panel formwork. Different shoring systems taken from the PERI product portfolio support the slab formwork and tables being used whilst the PERI UP modular scaffolding is extremely versatile in its application as load-bearing scaffold and for the erection of safe access points.

Source: PERI GmbH

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