A tunnel boring machine was rolled off the production line on June 22 in Zhengzhou city of Central China’s Henan province. It was then exported to Italy for a high-speed railway project linking Milan and Verona. The machine has a diameter of 10.03 meters and an overall length of 155 meters. It weighs 1,800 metric tons.
Tommasso Tarant, manager director of Italian Cepav Due, said, “In our tunnel, the geotechnical condition is very difficult. This machine will be a better performer in removing bigger size stones.”
A tunnel boring machine, better known as TBM, is used to excavate tunnels. It is meant to withstand a tremendous amount of pressure, which makes it a challenge to build and design.
As of late, the China Railway Engineering Equipment Group (CREG), has shipped over 50 TBMs to 19 countries and regions, including Malaysia, Singapore, Algeria, and the United Arab Emirates.
Eleven years ago, China was not able to produce even a single TBM. The market was dominated by companies from a small group of countries, including Germany and Japan. But now, China has begun to carve out a share of the global market.
China was buying and renting TBMs from other countries, mostly from Germany.
It took CREG 10 years to build the country’s first TBMs. Since 2008, it has manufactured over 800 TBMs and became the world’s biggest seller in 2017 and 2018.
Zhang Zhiguo, deputy general manager of China Railway Engineering Equipment Group, said, “We had very difficult times, but we made it. Thanks to our country’s rapid economic growth, we have more chances to innovate. And the Belt and Road Initiative gives us opportunities in the world market.”
Claudio Ancetti, commercial technical director of Tunrock S.R.I., said: “China is the leading country for this type of industry. It’s not possible to stop China from becoming No. 1. It’s already No. 1 in quantity. It will also be in quality. Already I think it’s at the same level as (quantity). Its main competitor is the German manufacturer.”
It means there’s still much left to be done to make China’s TBMs more competitive in the world market.