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Spider Plays Key Role in Panama Canal Expansion Project

Spider, a division of SafeWorks, LLC, has been providing suspended access solutions for the multi-billion dollar Panama Canal expansion project for the past three years.


Since the project began in 2007, there have been numerous phases including the excavation of an access channel for the Pacific-side locks, the dredging of the canal waterway, the raising of the Gatun Lake operational water level, and the construction of a third set of locks. By the time the project is complete in 2016, the movement capacity per ship for the Panama Canal will increase from 5,000 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) to 13,000 TEUs due to the ability for large vessels to pass through.

Spider has played a critical role for the construction of the Pacific and Atlantic third locks. Duero Latina, a Panamanian electromechanical construction contractor, selected Spider as its sole provider of suspended access equipment for the precision installation of over 700 rail and valve assemblies that will respectively control the entrance and exit of water through the locks. By 2014, Spider had seven ST-19A work baskets, fourteen ST-180 work cages with flydecks, and over eighty SC1000 traction hoists on site. Additionally, Spider’s Panama team provided exceptional on-site technical support as needed.

“We put Spider’s equipment to the test, especially during the last six months of the work when it was used practically 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” commented Luis Vergara, General Manager and Partner of Duero Latina. “On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate the safety of Spider’s equipment a 10. We have had no accidents, the equipment was light and easy to handle, and the sizes of their standard equipment were perfect for our application, helping us control our costs.”

John Daugherty, District Sales Representative for Spider’s Panama operation center, added, “When Duero Latina’s Safety Manager first introduced the description of the work to be performed and the crane access methodologies they were considering, I had no doubt that our equipment could facilitate much safer and more rapid work processes for them. I think it’s safe to say we delivered and even exceeded their expectations.”