Navigational locks

At SBE we focus on the design of navigational locks, more specifically the traditional lock for inland navigation and coastal areas. Due to our 30 years of experience, we have developed extensive knowledge in designing these types of sluices.

Our references in lock design range from small locks on inland waterways to the design of the largest rolling gates in the world and everything in-between. Our portfolio consists of dozens of lock gates and associated lock chambers, driving mechanisms and filling & emptying arrangements.

In most cases, a new lock complex or refurbishment involves a complete overhaul of the river section and site. The engineering design of weirs, fish ladders, jetties, quay walls and embankments are part of the lock-related services we offer. Obviously, a new lock complex has an impact on local traffic both in urban as in port areas. Movable bridges may be required and road infrastructure will need to be revised. Even on these areas, SBE can fully support the client in all their engineering design needs.

SBE’s Design Process

At SBE the emphasis is on providing innovative solutions to the challenges we encounter. As the challenges we face are vastly varied in nature, a flexible design process has been adopted to ensure all our clients receive the same world class service SBE has become renowned for:

  • Ask

    This is normally completed in consultation with our clients and other stakeholders. The boundary conditions are determined and is concluded with a Design Basis Report.

  • Imagine

    What are some solutions? Brainstorm ideas. Choose the best one. This is more commonly referred to as the Concept design phase. Any and all possible solution are considered and tested against each other. The result of this phase is a Concept Design report, highlighting the best possible solutions and their benefits and weaknesses.

  • Plan

    Sketch the concept. Make lists of materials you will need. Gather data. The Preliminary Design commences once the concerned parties have agreed to a preferred concept solution. At this point in-depth data is sought to inform the further development of the solution. This can often lead a couple of iterations of design development.

  • Create

    Follow your plan and create something. All uncertainties have been ironed out at this stage. We have gathered all available information and we are sure the solution is the best suited to our client’s needs. We build on the Preliminary Design and ensure what we conceived translates into reality.

  • Improve

    What works? What doesn't? What could work better? Share the lessons learned with colleagues. Once the project is complete, a holistic review of the whole Design Process is completed. This enables that we build on the lessons learned from the project to ensure all our clients get the full benefit of the immense collective experience of our staff.

Other engineering services

Apart from the engineering design of lock complexes (lock gates, lock chambers and electromechanics), SBE offers a wide range of engineering services:

Port & river engineering

Port & river engineering

port & terminal design, port infrastructure, quay wall design, integrated river basin management, water resource management

Civil engineering &<br />

Civil engineering &

bridge, road & tunnel design

Geo-<br />


foundation design, earthworks, embankments

Industrial &<br />

Industrial &

industrial constructions, real estate and underground car parks

Electro-<br />


tunnels, underground car parks, movable bridges

If you want to get a better understanding of our services and which projects we have completed, do take a look at our global website.

Other port & river engineering

Port & terminal development

Shipping via sea and inland waterways is a key mode of transport; each year global freight volumes are growing and ports are being expanded to cope with increasing traffic and larger vessels. SBE has built most of its expertise based on port related projects, starting more than 25 years ago in the port of Antwerp (Belgium).

Nowadays, SBE develops master plans for (future) major deep water greenfield ports on the African continent, East Asia, the Carribean and Europe. Our services extent from feasibility studies up to detailed engineering of port and terminal infrastructure.
Our references do not only include large deep water ports, marina’s and inland ports are also part of our expertise.


Integrated river basin management

Our climate is changing: extreme temperatures, heavy rainfall, melting ice caps,… More than ever, these themes are part of everyday news. The change in climate already affects millions of people living close to river systems, unfortunately, prospects aren’t bright.

SBE is well aware of these issues and has been focusing on integrated river basin management and coastal protection measures for several years now. Integrated river basin management is the process of coordinating conservation, management and development of water, land and related resources across sectors within a given river basin, in order to maximise the economic and social benefits derived from water resources in an equitable manner while preserving and, where necessary, restoring freshwater ecosystems.


Water resources engineering

Water resources engineering is closely related to integrated river basin management. Water can be either scarce or abundatly available and its availability can vary enormously during the course of the year. Water basins behind (hydropower) dams serve multiple goals such as more controlled water levels upstream of the dam, meeting the need for irrigation, power generation,…


Our Commitment

As designers of major civil structures we want to reduce the impact on the environment as much as possible by looking at the total lifecycle cost of the structure.

When we think about sustainable design, we think about lifecycle cost and lifecycle analysis. During its lifetime a structure undergoes different phases: design – construction – operational maintenance – possible renovation – demolition.

The total lifecycle cost is already determined during the design stage: making sustainable choices during the design phase will reduce the lifecycle cost and thus the impact on the environment. We, as designers of major civil structures, see it as our duty to reduce these costs as much as possible.

As designers we search for solutions which have a minimal impact on 5 important topics:

  • CO2 footprint;
  • water footprint;
  • ecosystems;
  • natural resources;
  • health and safety.

First of all, if there is an existing structure it is screened thoroughly to see whether it can be preserved with guarantee of the intended remaining lifespan. When new structures are required, the choice of construction material and the energy consumption over the lifecycle defines everything. The reclamation of resources required and subsequent production of one structure can be significantly lower than of another.

Additionally, the phasing of the construction and the method of execution can be an important factor. Planning the most optimal phasing starts at day 1 of the design process.

During the lifespan of a structure, the operational phase is by far the longest. A sustainable design minimalizes the energetic and environmental cost during this phase and reduces maintenance and renovation works afterwards. The lifespan ends with demolition and recycling. Again, using ecological building materials and a thought-out phasing can reduce the environmental impact significantly.

“Optimal design” used to be about slender design with a minimal initial investment cost, whereas SBE focusses more on sustainable design and the total lifecycle cost as a design measure.

Looking for an experienced partner in navigational locks?
Do you aim for vision, knowhow and an innovative solution for your project?