Panama Canal enlists waterproof Thyssenkrupp lifts

Thyssenkrupp has supplied 14 waterproof elevators, capable of descending to a depth of 50m below sea level, for use at the Panama Canal expansion

Thyssenkrupp supplied 14 waterproof elevators for installation at the expansion of the Panama Canal.
Thyssenkrupp supplied 14 waterproof elevators for installation at the expansion of the Panama Canal.

Waterproof elevators manufactured by Thyssenkrupp have been enlisted by the companies behind the expansion of the Panama Canal.

A total of 14 waterproof lifts, which are capable of descending to depths of 50m below sea level, have been supplied for the project.

Seven lifts were installed at both of the development’s new lock complexes, which are located at each end of the canal – one on the side of the Atlantic, the other on that of the Pacific.

Traffic through the new locks is being monitored from control towers that can be accessed via two of the elevators.

Peter Bjorn, vice president of new installations and modernisations at Thyssenkrupp’s elevator technology business division, said: “The elevators descend to a depth of roughly 50m, and are then connected to tunnels known as ‘crossunders’, running beneath the lock chambers.

“[These chambers] hold millions of litres of water,” he added.

All elevator components had to be explosion proof to guarantee maximum availability, even under the harshest of climatic conditions. The Panama Canal expansion is the first project in the world to be fitted with this safety feature.

Thyssenkrupp deployed 24 people for the project, as the elevators had to be installed within a five-month timeframe.

“The completion of this project makes us very proud and shows the high level of proficiency of Thyssenkrupp teams working on milestone projects across the world,” said Bjorn.

The expansion of the Panama Canal, which is now complete, was undertaken to provide a strategic route for global shipping companies. The waterway was made deeper and larger to allow the passage of ships three times larger than those that could be accommodated by the original canal.

The expansion required six years of research, including more than 100 viability studies. Those behind the project also had to investigate market demand, environmental impact, and other technical engineering considerations.

Construction began in 2007, with an overall cost of $5.4bn. The initiative has doubled the capacity of the canal, and is expected to have a significant impact on local economies and international maritime trade.

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