Locks and Lock Gates

In the Netherlands hundreds of locks are fully operational for either inland waterway transport or recreational navigation. Given the growing congestion of the national highways, the search for more sustainable transport modes, it is expected that transport over water will grow and that locks will become bigger and of more importance in the future.

Many of the existing locks are over, at or approaching the end of their design lifetime, which typically varies between 50 and a 100 years. In the next decennia these locks will go out of use, have to be refurbished or substantially upgraded, demolished and replaced by new navigation locks that are suited for the future day standard.

The gates of the navigation lock are of vital importance for operation. The gate, the mechanical and electrical equipment to move it require frequent maintenance.  Generally the lifetime of these items is an order of magnitude smaller than the lock structure itself. To cut costs the use of synthetic light-weight but high-strength materials is considered more and more often. More particularly, it has been observed over the past decennia that in the region of the pivots of mitre gates, the most commonly used gate type, a fatigue type of damage occurs

Areas of application of various types of lock gates (by graduate student Jan Doeksen, 2012)   

In following years research efforts will be devoted to:

  • Optimal replacement strategies of navigation locks, which include the development of  improved assessment and evaluation techniques for existing locks
  • Design of new gate types, for instance the curved sliding or rolling gate for high head locks where possibilities to extend the used area is limited
  • The use of new synthetic materials, light weight and high strength,  that may become available due to developments in the nano-technology

Structural model for a lock gate, (by graduate student Britte van Kortenhof, 2012)

Synthetic doors of locks in the Canal des Vosges, France