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Port machinery maker steps up global expansion despite COVID-19 headwinds

By Zhong Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2020-06-19 09:43
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A Shanghai Zhenhua employee checks a gear mesh at a workshop in Shanghai in April. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Shanghai Zhenhua Port Machinery Co, or ZPMC, one of the world's biggest port machinery manufacturers by market share, is ramping up efforts to strengthen other businesses worldwide despite the headwinds caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Co, a centrally administrated State-owned enterprise, ZPMC is scheduled to deliver 17 units of port machinery to their global clients in countries which include Israel, France, Sri Lanka and Pakistan between June and early July of this year.

Many opportunities are available from efforts by these countries to boost recovery from COVID-19 and this can be seen in their growing demand for manufacturing, mining projects, and transportation infrastructure such as railways, port and shipbuilding businesses.

They need advanced port cranes to either upgrade their previous facilities or install them in the new ports, said ZPMC Vice-President Zhang Jian.

The group shipped four ship-to-shore (STS) cranes and two rail-mounted gantry (RMG) cranes for the Israel Haifa Automatic Terminal in Haifa Port last month. The port is the hub of the railway in the Mediterranean Sea and is the largest port of the country.

Haifa Port, a symbolic project along the Belt and Road Initiative, will be the largest container terminal in Israel. After completion of the project, it will have a design annual handling capacity of 1.86 million TEUs, or 20-foot equivalent units, said Xin Chenglong, manager for ZPMC's Israel project.

Under the contract, ZPMC will provide all automatic equipment for the Terminal, including eight STSs and 22 RMGs. The group's STSs will be entering the Israeli market for the first time.

The debugging was started after the general assembly in the early spring of this year. However, the project faced a manpower shortage due to the pandemic's impact.

Xin said the project team took the online test innovatively for the live broadcast of the debugging and trial operation to the user, making sure of the manufacturing nodes of the project. The innovative mode has been promoted for use in other overseas projects, speeding up manufacturing and production along with pandemic prevention and control.

Sufficient power supply and medical goods, international cooperation, stable trade flows and timely production of daily necessities and other living materials are key for China's trading partners to overcome the disease.

The measures are prudent to ensure port operations during this tough period, said Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing.

In addition to exporting cranes to the overseas market, the company delivered the first two intelligent straddle carriers to its clients HWL CTN Terminal in Stockholm, Sweden, in March. It marked the first time a Chinese company exported such goods to an overseas market.

This was a part of an eight intelligent straddle carrier deal signed in 2019. The straddle carrier was a new product developed for global automatic terminals. It was designed in module with a diesel and battery hybrid power, driving wheel-side synchronous motor and an eight-wheel hydraulic independent steering system.

ZPMC has 10 production bases located in Shanghai and Nantong, in East China's Jiangsu province, with 10 kilometers of coastline.

Supported by 2,600 engineers and a fleet of over 25 transportation vessels, the company has supplied large-scale port container machinery and other industrial goods to more than 100 countries and regions.

It is also engaged in businesses which include heavy offshore products such as floating cranes, pipelay vessels and other engineering vessels, marine transportation and installation, system integration and overall contract of projects, electrical products, software development and integration.

For SOEs, the coordinated operational experience, new technologies and solutions gained in recent months will be useful in developing their markets after the pandemic.

This is particularly the case in areas such as modern manufacturing, multimodal transport, medical equipment and materials, biomedicine and big data application, said Zheng Donghua, deputy director of the research center at the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, the country's top State asset regulator.

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