Lock Gates – Panama Canal

The project

The renewed Panama Canal required sixteen huge lock gates that had to satisfy extremely stringent requirements. The locks are designed to hold water when the water level in the lock drops and release it when it needs to be raised.

The challenge

The design requirements for the lock gates of the renewed Panama Canal were incredibly demanding: the gates had to withstand immense water pressure, collisions, and earthquakes. In addition, it had to be possible to open and close the gates within five minutes, with minimal water seepage, and be available 99.6% of the time. The sheer size of the gates and the complexity of the requirements made traditional design methods inadequate.


Iv was responsible for the complete design of the lock gates, including the drive mechanism and control system. We also performed an integral RAMS (Reliability, Availability, Maintainability, Safety) analysis to ensure that the gates would meet the stringent performance requirements. This comprehensive analysis focused on the reliability, availability, maintainability, and safety of the system. Iv was also involved in the construction supervision of the lock gates to ensure the design was executed correctly and accurately.

The impact

The complex technical challenges were addressed, which resulted in the development of gates capable of withstanding the harsh conditions and stringent requirements of the canal. This achievement has had a positive impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of the Panama Canal, significantly increasing its capacity and capabilities for marine navigation.

Curious about the possibilities for your project?

Wouter, managing director Infra and also COO of Iv, would be delighted to discuss this with you! Get in touch via +31 88 943 3200 or send a message.

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Wouter van der Wiel