Panama Canal Expansion
Cat customer Constructora Urbana (CUSA) of Panama began the initial phase of dry excavation in September 2007. CUSA has more than 50 years experience with infrastructure and bridge works in Panama and relies heavily on Cat equipment.
“We’re currently ahead of schedule and a big part of that is because of the high productivity we’ve been able to get out of our Cat machines”, said Roberto Muschett, operations manger for CUSA.
The initial excavation requires digging a 4.1-mile (6.7-kilometer) channel that will connect the Pacific end of the canal’s new locks to the current shipway. For the job CUSA is using eight 777F off-highway trucks, six excavators (Cat 345s, 330s, and a 320), 14 tractors (D9Ts, D8Ts, D6Rs), 13 articulated dump trucks (models 740 and 730), six soil compactors (CP-663, CP-533E), one motor grader and two Terex front shovel excavators that are powered by Cat engines.
Aided by Caterpillar’s integrated solutions, customers like CUSA have little to worry about other than getting the job done.
“The Panama Canal is a very important and unique application for our mining machines. Our role is to support the local district office and to provide guidance to the Cat dealer to determine the right quantity of machines in the right configuration for this project,“ said Cat Global Mining Commercial Manager Joe Diaz who is responsible for Mexico and Central America. ”Ultimately, we need to help our customers be successful in exceeding the expectations of the Panama Canal Authority—which is to complete the canal expansion as efficiently, economically and safely as possible"
Great Local Support
Muschett points to the close relationship CUSA has with Caterpillar’s regional dealer Cardoze & Lindo—the second oldest Caterpillar distributor in Latin America—as a big advantage to staying on schedule. “When we have a problem, we have always experienced great response time from our local Cat dealer,” Muschett said. “We’re confident that the high productivity achieved through our machines will continue through the entire contract.”
Established as a Caterpillar dealer in 1928, Cardoze & Lindo is presently managed by the fourth generation of the Cardoze family and has over 350 employees at four offices. Its main office is located three miles (5 kilometers) away from the Panama Canal Pacific Ocean entrance at Panama City. As a leader in the market it serves for four generations, it has been involved in all major projects that have taken place in Panama from the beginning of the 20th century.
Aiding Cardoze & Lindo in its support of the customers, Caterpillar’s integrated solutions have provided answers for issues ranging from financial assistance (Cat Financial) and machine support (CGM) to operator training (dealer and Caterpillar service training).
“Customers today are looking for integrated jobsite solutions so they can concentrate on their core business. Increasing the number of touch points between you and the customer while assisting in more of their day-to-day operations means an increase in customer value,” said Dave Carius, machine sales manager from the Central District Office. "In Panama, we’re proving that integrating services like finance, parts support, rental and operator training benefits not only our customers, but also the quality of the project.”
One instance where integrated solutions are paying off for the canal project and for Panama is in the training of heavy equipment operators.
Trained personnel became an issue as the scope of the canal expansion quickly exceeded the supply of experienced heavy equipment operators. To meet the increased demand, Cardoze & Lindo teamed with Caterpillar experts to develop a program that is training more than 800 Panamanians to work with heavy Cat equipment. CUSA quickly hired six of these individuals for phase one.
As CUSA was digging its way through phase one, another Caterpillar customer, CILSA-Minera Maria, a construction company from Mexico, began its work on the $25.4 million second phase of dry excavation.
The Panama Canal Authority expects CILSA to remove about 265 million cubic feet (7.5 million cubic meters) of earth in a stretch of 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers), clean 360 acres (146 hectares) of land, relocate 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) of road and prepare sites for the relocation of six electric transmission towers and line of 230 kilowatts between Panama City and La Chorrera.
CILSA-Minera Maria’s fleet of heavy equipment includes four Caterpillar Certified Rebuilt 785B off-highway trucks, three 385 mass excavators, eight 740 articulated trucks, eight track-type tractors (D8Rs, D8Ts), three motor graders (14H, 16G) and an 834B wheel dozer.
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