New construction and renovation of Princess Beatrix locks

Since it opened in 1938, the Princess Beatrix lock complex has been the largest inland waterway lock in the Netherlands and is a listed structure. It functions as the main shipping link between Rotterdam and Amsterdam, with 50,000 ships passing through the Lek Canal annually. For several years the lock had threatened to become a bottleneck due to ever-increasing traffic and larger ships. The Sas van Vreeswijk consortium was commissioned by the Dutch Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management to build a third lock chamber, renovate the two existing ones, relocate the operation centre to the white lock keepers’ houses and widen the Lek Canal, among other things.



For the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management the Princess Beatrix lock project was the second ‘wet’ DBFM (Design – Build – Finance – Maintain) project in the Netherlands, after the Limmel flood barrier.

The Sas van Vreeswijk consortium (Besix, Jan De Nul and Heijmans) was responsible for the design, construction, financing and maintenance of the Beatrix lock. As a subcontractor, Agidens Infra Automation took care of the complete system integration for operation, control and monitoring and is also responsible for maintenance, together with Martens & Van Oord, for 27 years.


Extensive scope

From the start of the project, the focus was on ensuring maximum availability of the locks. Building on the basic concept of a lock with four rolling gates, full redundancy was built into the design to eliminate any single point of failure in the system.

The project was characterised by the total freedom granted with regard to the technical interpretation of the design, combined with a process (EN15288) for securing the functional requirements within this very extensive scope.

  • Construction of third lock chamber with double rolling gates.
  • Renovation of the mechanical, drive and electrical installation of the nationally listed structure (existing locks 1 and 2) while retaining its historic character.
  • Relocation of operation of the lock to the white lock keepers’ houses.
  • Widening of the Lek Canal.
  • 27 years of maintenance with focus on maximum availability.

Scope Agidens Infra Automation

Process design / engineering

Software engineering

Mechanical engineering

E&I engineering

Safety engineering



Testing & Commissioning

Compliance (EN15288)

Maintenance (27 jaar)

Lock chamber  3

The construction of the third chamber allows more and larger ships to pass through the Lek Canal. Moreover, the widening of the Lek Canal has freed up extra space for berths.

The third chamber was equipped with four rolling gates, a concept that underlies the redundant architecture of the entire system. In the event of a malfunction or maintenance, two gates remain operational at all times. If only the outer gates are used, the chamber is 291 metres long (useful chamber length) and there is room for two ships of 135 metres each to pass through. This is referred to as “XL lockage”.

With preventive maintenance in mind, a condition monitoring system has been installed in the entire lock complex.



Maximum availability of lock 3 – PLC-redundancy (Siemens S7-400 FH) is realised with integrated safety. As a result, there were only four hours of unscheduled unavailability in the first year after commissioning, compared to a requirement of 22 hours per year.

Comprehensive maintenance concept –  allowing almost all maintenance to be carried out without the lock being unavailable

Fully digital operation and monitoring – in the white houses based on a camera installation and ten thousand I/Os throughout the lock complex

No more waiting times  thanks to increased lock capacity, high availability and the widening of the Lek Canal

Succesful site tests –  followed by reporting and demonstration (verification & validation file) of the whole complex three weeks after the test.

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