The Anatomy of the Panama Canal


The Panama Canal, which is due to open in early 2016, is a project that is globally recognised as having potentially an astonishing impact on international trade, and is expected to generate revenues of around US$5-6 billion annually. As we move further into globalisation, and trade volumes continue to increase, the Panama Canal will be a key trade route for emerging and developing economies.

But legend aside, the team at PTI wants to know how, on an operational level, the Panama Canal will work. We have therefore put together two infographics in an effort to explain how the waterway will function and thereby service post-Panamax ships of around 13000-14000 TEU.


(Source: ACP)

Step 1. The ship approaches the first (and lowest) chamber of the lock.

Step 2. The valves of the lowest chamber are opened, thereby causing gravity to lower the water to sea-level for the ship to enter.

Step 3. The gate behind the ship closes and the water levels rise up, allowing the ship to enter the next chamber, with the next gate closing behind it. While this happens, the valves of the next chamber are opened and as the water level of the next chamber falls, the chamber that the ship is currently in rise up so that the ship can enter.

To read an article by PTI Editor Richard Joy on the Third Lock expansion, click here

Step 4. This process will be repeated until the ship is able to sail through.

Once completed, the Panama Canal will have two new sets of locks. One set will be on the Pacific side and the other on the Atlantic side.

Each lock will have three sets of chambers and each chamber will have three water-saving basins.

(Source: ACP)

The water-saving basins will allow the Panama Canal to use 7% less water than the existing locks.

The Panama Canal is currently 91% completed and is currently in the electro-mechanical installation phase of the project.

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