The 81.6 kilometer long Panama Canal, one of the world’s most important waterways, is currently undergoing extensive civil construction, widening and deepening at a cost of around four billion euros. A key element of the Expansion Program is the construction of two new lock complexes on the Atlantic and Pacific sides, each around 1,200 meters long. Passage through the three-step locks will be controlled and monitored from two control towers. Access to these towers will be by elevator – made and installed by ThyssenKrupp Elevator. The Panama Canal expansion contract includes a total of fourteen modern passenger elevators, mainly to transport people quickly from one side of the lock to the other. Installed at various points along the locks, the elevators descend to a depth of roughly 50 meters and are then connected by tunnels known as “crossunders” running beneath the lock chambers, which hold millions of liters of water and are used by gigantic passenger and merchant ships. All elevator components are dust and spray proof to guarantee maximum availability even under the harshest of climatic conditions.
The Canal is currently used by some 14,000 ships a year to avoid a two-week trip around the South American continent via Cape Horn. But the ever-increasing size of container ships and tankers means the Panama Canal has reached its maximum capacity resulting in a bottleneck; today the man-made waterway is simply too small for the growing world merchant fleet. The new, water-saving locks will allow the passage of ships up to 366 meters long and 49 meters wide – equivalent to a capacity of approximately 13,000 containers. At the same time, the capacity of the Canal is being doubled. The new set of locks is expected to be operational for commercial use by the second quarter of 2015.
The order underpins ThyssenKrupp Elevator's strategic focus on the markets of the future and continues its success in the growth regions. The team from ThyssenKrupp Elevator has already demonstrated its capabilities and engineering skills in Panama in the past: Based on its long-standing experience in all phases of project management – from planning to installation to regular maintenance – the company supplied and installed 37 elevators and two escalators at the 5-star Hotel Trump Ocean Club in Panama City.