The Panama Canal, one of the most well known construction projects on the planet, revolutionized maritime transportation since its genesis. For the first time, the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans were connected to provide a significant timesaving shortcut that allowed freight barges to avoid the turbulent water around Cape Horn.
Over time, it has become necessary to add to the capacity of the two sets of locks with a third set of locks, longer, wider, and deeper. Expanding the canal will enable the clear passage of Post-Panamax ships, the largest cargo ships in the world, whose dimensions prevent passage through the canal. The expansion project includes the construction of two sets of locks, one each on the Atlantic and Pacific shores. Both locks will be comprised of three levels that include water reutilization basins.
In this first phase of construction, the contractor has already planned the construction for the support facilities necessary to build the third set of locks, which requires an enormous 142,000 m3 (5 million cu. ft.) of concrete. These support facilities include concrete production plants, cooling and drying plants, power generation equipment as well as bulldozers, backhoes and other earth moving machines. The site where EFCO forms are being used includes the construction of three tunnels where conveyer systems will be installed helping move the concrete components.
In search of a productive solution to lighten the work of these support facilities on the Atlantic side, EFCO offered a solution. This solution involved a traveler system made of SUPER STUD and HAND-E-FORM®panels, which would form the walls of the tunnels. Each tunnel has a height of 2,90 m (9′-6″) and a thickness of 300 mm (12″). The length of the tunnel was approximately 196,4 m (644′-4″).
The contractor decided to build two tunnels at the same time, starting with the sand and aggregate tunnels and then continuing with the coarse material tunnel. The EFCO engineering solution allowed the contractor to perform a pour daily, without the need of a crane. The SUPER STUD traveler with its four form faces could be moved manually.
To be a part of the Panama Canal expansion is not just a job, it is being part of history. An opportunity to take part in one of the largest infrastructure projects constructed by man, and an extremely important element in maritime commerce.