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RAPORTY

PANAMA CANAL INCLUDES CONJET ROBOT IN MAJOR LOCK REPAIRS

2005-05-26 — The Panama Canal Authority, “Autoridad Del Canal De Panama” (ACP), has bought one of the latest Conjet Robot 363 MPA hydrodemolition machines. It will complement the two sets of Conjet Jetframe 122 hydrodemolition equipment the ACP has been using to remove concrete and assist with the replacement of the canal’s special tow track rail system since 1999.

The tow track is used by powerful electric rack and pinion drive locomotives to assist in guiding ships through the canal’s three sets of twin lane locks. The ACP, which has the exclusive charge of the canal’s administration, management, operation and maintenance, is responsible for removing the 16,188 m of worn out tow track, which runs along the tops of the lock walls, and replacing it with a new stronger system to cater for the increase in canal traffic and high loadings from the locomotives.

The 80 km long canal, joining the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, was cut through the narrowest part of the isthmus joining North and South America between 1904 and 1914. It uses a system of three sets of dual lane locks to raise ships 26 m from the level of the Pacific or the Atlantic to the level of Gatun Lake to navigate the channel through the Continental Divide. The Gatun lock, on the Atlantic side, has three separate chambers each 33.5 m wide by 305 m long, while the Pedro Miguel and Milaflores locks on the Pacific side, have respectively one and two chambers of the same size.

The ACP Locks Track & Structural Maintenance Unit is supervising the tow track modernisation programme and is using the versatile Conjet 363 MPA to remove concrete supporting the towing track system at Gatun Locks on the Atlantic side of the canal. It is cutting out the old concrete between the waterside rail and edge of the locks and between the twin rail’s supporting steel crossties, prior to taking out sections of the worn out track.

The Conjet Robot 363 MPA is self propelled and is unlike the Jetframe system, which requires a crane to position and hold it in place. The Robot has the long reach to work alongside and over the towing track system, without obstructing the normal operation of the locks when towing locomotives may be required to pass the area approximately every 20 minutes. Each time a locomotive passes, the mechanical arm can be quickly and easily moved and repositioned to allow high production to continue during interrupted operation.
The Conjet Robot 363 MPA is coupled to one of ACP’s two Conjet 345-400 Powerpacks supplying water at a pressure of 1100 bar and flow of 195 litres/min. With this configuration ACP has been able to boost production of concrete removal by 50% over the Jetframe equipment and is achieving 0.75 m3/hour, compared with typically 0.5 m3/hour for the Jetframe.


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