Panama Canal contractor mobilizes for 30-month, 7 million-yd. pour

Source: SIMEM America Corp., San Antonio, Texas

A consortium adding a third Panama Canal lock has begun pilot production through identical, twin-tower batch plants in Colon (Atlantic) and Panama City (Pacific), each equipped for nearly 800-yd./hour. After test mix runs, the plants will commence with a March–April 2011 through late-2013 placement schedule requiring a combined 6 million to 7 million yd. of concrete.

With construction partners from Panama, Belgium, Italy and Spain, Grupo Unidos por el Canal enlisted SIMEM SpA to engineer and manufacture the mammoth batch plants. SIMEM America has overseen equipment installation and programming. Each plant consists of two towers bearing two 6-yd. SIMEM MSO6000-HLS twin shaft mixers; operating on target 80-second cycles, they charge 12-yd., open-bed agitator trucks. A shared bin sized to supply material for one hour at peak output supplies each plant’s twin-mixer towers. The main concrete specification calls for five aggregates; the bins are split accordingly with a total of 10 dedicated scales—five weighing three coarse and two fine gradations for each tower.

Beyond capacity, speed and meticulous controls for material handling and mix quality, SIMEM SpA of Minerbe (VR), Italy, designed the plants to integrate with aggregate-cooling systems during transfer to the bin, plus ice charging for the main feed conveyor. The air-conditioned aggregate bins are fully enclosed with insulated panels. The cooling capacity is geared to a 50°F mix placement target on sites where temperatures average 95°F and above.

Twin silos feed each mixer individually weighed portland cement or supplementary binders. Primary cement supplier Cemex landed a 500,000-ton contract in mid-2010, announcing the agreement on the heels of a $300 million investment tripling Panamanian operations’ capacity.