ABB to modernise the Oosterscheldekering barrier operating system, part of the world’s largest flood protection structure

Rijkswaterstaat, part of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, has awarded ABB a contract to upgrade the Oosterscheldekering barrier operating system, the icon of the Dutch Delta Works, the world’s largest flood protection structure which protects the country against flooding from the North Sea. With 26 percent of The Netherlands below the sea level, Oosterscheldekering plays a key role in keeping the country safe.

Credit: Rijkswaterstaat

Delta Works consists of two locks, six dams and five storm-surge barriers. At 9 km long, the Oosterscheldekering, is the largest of the 13 Delta Works dams and storm surge barriers and has protected the Zeeland and South Holland hinterland against high-water since 1986.

ABB’s Ability System 800xA has controlled the Oosterscheldekering barrier for the last 36 years. Under normal conditions, the barrier remains open; when water levels of more than 3 meters above the Normal Amsterdam Level are fore­casted, thanks to ABB technology, the barrier comes down in advance. At present, 260 ABB AC 800M controllers enable 62 steel doors, each 42 meters wide, to open and close at the push of a button. This ambitious project demonstrates the capabilities of System 800xA, with 64,000 I/O under one single operating system, and will also ensure the barrier complies with the latest security regulations.

“We are hugely proud of our role in providing the automation technology for this critical infrastructure which prevents 60 percent of the Netherlands from potential flooding,” said Gerton Dekkers, Vice President at ABB Benelux. “We have worked closely with Rijkswaterstaat for the last three decades, with both parties collaborating in sharing their skills and knowledge to optimise operational efficiencies at the barrier. This project exemplifies our core values of enabling safe, smart and sustainable operations.”

ABB was awarded the contract in 2021. This included a pre-study and proof-of-concept to test the proposed set up. The contract, which includes a 15-year service and care agreement, will be phased in over the next three years.

ABB has also supplied the control systems for several other storm barriers in the Netherlands, including Maeslantkering, Ramspolkering and the Haringvlietdam.

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