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BRI propelling CREC's innovative engineering machine order book

By ZHONG NAN | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-21 09:22
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The construction team of China Railway Seventh Group Co Ltd builds a bridge section of the Zhuhai-Zhaoqing high-speed railroad project in Foshan, Guangdong province, on March 14, 2024. [Photo provided to]

China Railway Group Ltd (CREC), one of the world's largest construction and engineering contractors by revenue, will deploy more resources to develop high-end equipment like tunnel boring machines (TBMs) and rail transit switches to capitalize on growth opportunities both at home and abroad this year, said its top executive.

Numerous opportunities can be found both domestically and internationally, particularly within economies participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, as demand for specialized construction machinery and tunnel boring equipment surges.

The Beijing-based centrally administered State-owned enterprise has bagged a number of contracts for the upgrade and renewal of infrastructure, including subway projects, water conservation efforts and underground passages globally in recent years. The group will ship several giant TBMs to its clients in Singapore and South Korea this year.

TBMs are used to excavate tunnels, subway tubes and sewer lines. Compared with traditional tunnel boring methods like drilling and blasting for manual digs, the use of such giant TBMs could minimize impacts on the surroundings and produce smoother tunnel walls, helping certain tunnel projects better negotiate unstable geological and seismic conditions.

"We will continuously push the limits in terms of increasing boring diameters, accelerating boring speeds, deepening boring depths and handling more intricate conditions," said Chen Yun, CREC's chairman.

Due to the extensive accumulation of technology over the years, the group has lately been able to introduce to the market an average of two TBM product variants annually. These encompass pioneering full-section hard rock shaft boring machines as well as its groundbreaking horseshoe-shaped shield machines.

CREC to date has received over 1,600 orders for its TBMs from around the world. It has exported TBMs to more than 30 countries and regions including Australia, Denmark, Qatar and Italy.

In addition to exporting TBMs, CREC ships rail transit switches to more than 30 countries. Its steel structure products and bridge girder erection machines have also been used in big-ticket projects such as the Jakarta-Bandung High Speed Railway in Indonesia, the China-Laos Railway and the Peljesac Bridge in Croatia.

Supported by 290,000 employees globally, CREC has built a large number of projects in Asia, Africa, Europe, South America and Oceania. At present, it has representative offices and manages projects in more than 90 countries and regions worldwide.

With China creating more favorable conditions to cultivate new quality productive forces, Chen said high-end products are crucial to the national economy and strategic security, serving as a key support for industrial upgrading and technological advancement.

The term new quality productive forces refers to innovative products and services that emerge from continuous advances in science and technology, creating a more strategic future and propelling emerging industries that could introduce breakthrough technological advancements in an era of intelligent information.

Chen said that new quality productive forces involve digital and green productivity, which will pave the way for expanded growth prospects in China.

Zhou Lisha, a researcher at the Institute for State-owned Enterprises of Tsinghua University, said that the growth of China's industrial economy is being bolstered by emerging industries, manufacturers' intelligent transformation and the development of digital infrastructure.

China has already demonstrated remarkable progress in various domains, including electric vehicles, TBMs, liquefied natural gas carriers, energy storage, aerospace, photovoltaics and wind energy, said Zhou.

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