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Innovation drives stable industrial growth

China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-24 09:48
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A view of the tallest building in Africa, with a designed height of 385.5 meters, in Cairo, Egypt, in September. Its construction is supported by Chinese builder Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science and Technology. XINHUA

Construction machinery trade surplus increases as high-tech rules the roost

The construction of "the tallest building in Africa", with a designed height of 385.5 meters, in Egypt, has been facilitated by tower cranes, lifts, truck cranes and concrete pumps imported from China.

Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science and Technology introduced its equipment and took part in the entire process, from the beginning of construction to the capping of the project.

An array of advanced products, such as 101-meter carbon fiber boom concrete pump trucks and AI-based harvesting machines, has consistently enhanced the global competitiveness and impact of Chinese machinery brands while also playing a role in economic recovery.

In the first half of this year, the added value of China's equipment manufacturing industry increased by 6.5 percent year-on-year, contributing 53.9 percent to the growth of all industries above a designated size.

Sophisticated technology

China views enterprises as the main body of innovation, dedicating efforts to nurture world-leading firms and those employing specialized and sophisticated technologies to create unique products.

A smart industrial base of Zoomlion situated in Changsha, capital of Central China's Hunan province, features eight world-leading "lighthouse factories" — manufacturers showing leadership in using Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies — 300 smart production lines, more than 600 patented technologies for production lines and eight national platforms for scientific research and innovation.

Zoomlion's super-large tonnage crawler crane ZCC3200NP has played an important role in the construction of China's several domestic nuclear power projects. On April 20, another tower crane of this enterprise, the R20000-720, rolled off the production line in a smart plant in Hunan's Changde.

Incorporating 158 innovative breakthroughs and 305 patented inventions, the R20000-720 utilizes over 60 core technologies and has a maximum lifting capacity of 720 metric tons and a maximum lifting height of 400 meters, which is equivalent to lifting 500 cars to the height of 130 floors.

In addition, the multisource information fusion intelligent control system propels the tower crane to achieve rapid millisecond-level responses.

The development of modern infrastructure in Africa has accelerated in recent years, with the demand for high-quality and high-performance construction machinery becoming urgent in order to adapt to the complex terrain and the unpredictable and challenging conditions of certain projects.

Chinese machinery manufacturers have specifically crafted numerous advanced products to cater to the African market.

For example, Zoomlion has developed a specialized rice machine, fueled by a turbo engine, designed to swiftly harvest high-yield plots and minimize food losses during the process. Additionally, an innovative wheat harvester, outfitted with a front camera, can effectively monitor and identify crop lodging.

Zoomlion's R20000-720 tower crane is seen at an industrial park in Changde, Hunan province, in April.  XINHUA

Benefiting the world

When constructing a transportation hub in Egypt, the project required a type of large-diameter thick-walled structural pipe of more than 1,000 tons — a challenge that numerous manufacturers in Europe and the United States couldn't meet. China's Hengyang Valin Steel Tube Co Ltd stepped in and delivered the necessary products, ensuring the project's timely completion.

"China has long been exporting its construction machinery and equipment," said Wu Weiheng, vice-general manager of Zoomlion's overseas business. "In recent years, the machinery industry's overseas revenue and orders have increased significantly."

At present, Zoomlion has subsidiaries in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria, and set up a joint venture factory in Algeria.

In 2022, the company's sales growth in countries like Indonesia, India, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Turkiye exceeded 100 percent year-on-year.

According to Zoomlion's 2023 first-quarter report, its overseas revenue increased by 123 percent year-on-year.

China Railway Engineering Equipment Group has introduced its tunnel boring machines to Europe in recent years. In 2015, CREG won the bid for a project in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2019 and 2020, it exported shield tunneling machines to France and Poland, respectively.

To date, CREG has secured orders for over 1,400 sets, with exports reaching more than 30 countries and regions.

According to the China Construction Machinery Association, the country's machinery exports maintained a high growth rate in the first half of 2023, firmly supporting the stable operation of the construction machinery industry.

Strategic sectors shine

After CCMA analyzed Customs data, it was found that China's trade volume of construction machinery reached $26.31 billion, an increase of 23.2 percent year-on-year, in the first half of 2023.

The trade surplus was $23.67 billion, an increase of $5.31 billion year-on-year.

Much like the performance of overseas businesses, China's machinery industry registered stable domestic growth in the first half of 2023.

In the domestic market, sales of eight categories of machinery products saw growth, with the most significant increase of 27.9 percent occurring in the truck-crane segment, according to the CCMA.

The China Machinery Industry Federation said the sector's added value went up 9.7 percent from a year ago in the January-June period, driven by vibrant electrical machinery and equipment manufacturing and automobile production.

Indicating a swift transition propelled by innovation, business revenue and profits of strategic emerging industries in the machinery sector surged by 10.4 percent and 15.6 percent in the first half, respectively. By the end of June, the number of innovation platforms in the machinery sector reached 260, offering support for the stability of the industrial chain.


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