The Wilhelminakanaal in Tilburg, Netherlands has installed the largest fiber-reinforced polymer lock gates in the world (6.2 x 12.9 m). The gates were manufactured using the InfraCore Inside technology, and can withstand a height difference in water levels of no less than 7.9m.
The glass fibers to reinforce the structure are constructed using InfraCore Inside technology, which makes it possible to build fiber-reinforced polymer sandwich constructions whereby the upper and lower shell are inextricably linked, meaning they are capable of bearing very heavy loads. The gates have a yellow protective coating and will require minimal maintenance.
One important sustainability factor is that because fiber-reinforced polymer does not decay, these lock gates have a predicted life two or three times that of conventional wooden or steel gates. And because the gates have roughly the same specific gravity as water, there will also be much less wear and tear on the pivoting points.
The choice to install fiber-reinforced polymer lock gates was a joint initiative of the province of Noord-Brabant, Rijkswaterstaat, and the building group combination Heijmans/Boskalis. The lock gates were manufactured by the Dutch company FiberCore Europe (Rotterdam, Netherlands) and the installation was carried out by the construction company Hillebrand. Smaller lock gates (5 x 6.2 m) had already been installed in lock III in October last year.
The Wilhelminakanaal has been both widened and made deeper near Tilburg. In addition, the existing locks II and III have been replaced by a single new lock, and new sheet piling installed together with the laying out of more environmentally friendly banks. There will also be a swinging basin where vessels can turn. To achieve all this, Rijkswaterstaat has worked in collaboration with the municipality of Tilburg, the province of Noord-Brabant and Combinatie Heijmans/Boskalis to realise improved navigability of the Wilhelminakanaal. A wider and deeper canal will make Brabant more sustainable and improve its accessibility by water. Once the project has been completed, larger ships (class IV vessels) will be able to sail this section of Wilhelminakanaal in Tilburg more quickly.
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