Sunday, October 7, 2012

Panama Canal Gates Test Road Haulage, Ocean and Inland Water Freight Abilities

Giant Project Forwarding Contract needs to use Multimodal Methods for Success
Shipping News Feature

PANAMA – Geodis Wilson, the freight forwarding and heavy lift division of the Geodis Group has been awarded a $50 million contract by Italian steel manufacturer Cimolai to manage the transport of 16 lock gates, each weighing more than 4,000 tonnes, for the expansion of the Panama Canal. Ocean freight will be by way of STX PanOcean vessels and on the road haulage the huge structures will be carried using self propelled modular trailers (SPMT’s) whilst for inland water transport the Belgian group Sarens will utilise their own barges.

The inland transport, loading and unloading operations will be coordinated by Geodis Wilson, in cooperation with Sarens and STX. The gates are being produced at the San Giorgio di Nogaro plant before being carried on the Canale Anfora to Trieste. An initial vessel, carrying four of the gates will depart from Italy in February 2013 and will be followed by a further three shipments throughout the year with the last of the units due to arrive in October of that year. The new gates are part of the large-scale expansion plan by the Panama Canal Authority that is designed to double the capacity of the Panama Canal by 2014. Pierre Blayau, Chairman and CEO of Geodis Group commented:

“Geodis Wilson’s role as a key transport provider in one of the world’s most demanding infrastructure projects underlines both, our outstanding competence in managing complex heavy-lift shipments and our significance in the global ocean freight sector.”

A dedicated engineering team led by Geodis Wilson Italy’s Industrial Projects department has developed a unique lashing system to secure the gates safety during transport, which will be via semi-submersible vessels from Italy to Panama. The doors vary in size from 1,900 to 4,300 tonnes and measure 58.7 x 10 x 34.7 metres and upon arrival at the Atlantic end of the canal eight will be offloaded and stored whilst the remaining eight will be shipped by barge the length of the canal and offloaded for storage before carriage by SPMT to their respective locks for fitting out.

The new lock chambers will enable Post-Panamax containerships to transit the canal connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans with the capacity to handle ships up to 13,000 TEU’s, almost three times the previous size and the entire refurbishment of the Panama Canal is scheduled for completion by its hundredth anniversary in 2014.

Photo: The barge Louis on her maiden voyage courtesy of Sarens.