Tan Shunhui, Chairman, CREG
Tan Shunhui, Chairman, CREG, discusses the competitive advantages of the company’s tunneling equipment and solutions, emerging opportunities in developing countries, factors driving its growth and success across the world, and its strategic partnership with French company Metalliance, with Maria R.

With China becoming the world’s largest tunneling equipment market with around 45% market share, how are Chinese tunneling equipment manufacturers and contractors advancing technological developments for sustained growth of the industry?
In the past 40 years, since China’s reform and opening up, large-scale infrastructure developments such as transportation, water conservancy, and urbanization have been carried out continuously, among which, many underground space development projects, mainly tunnels, have been successfully constructed. Because of the continuous promotion of mechanized construction in these tunnels, covering tunnel excavation, support and reinforcement, China’s tunnel equipment manufacturing industry has been greatly appreciated the world over.

Tunnel equipment manufacturers and contractors, as important participants in the tunnel construction process, serve the tunnel construction with their own products and technical advantages to make the tunnel construction safer and more efficient. At the same time, during the construction, many complex and emerging problems, such as the geological and hydrological conditions, surrounding environment, new engineering structure, etc, have to be solved. Our engineering construction standards have been upgrading as tunnel equipment manufacturers and contractors are constantly carrying out technical innovations and equipment developments to improve the safety and efficiency of tunnel construction.

In view of CREG’s vast experience in manufacturing tunneling equipment, along with undertaking infra construction projects of your principal company (one of China’s largest), how has CREG’s market share grown over the years?
As a specialized subsidiary of one of the major construction contractors in China, CREG serves the huge infrastructure construction in China. From a professional tunnel construction contractor with the most engineering achievements in China, dealing with many types of tunnel construction equipment, it has now become a tunnel equipment manufacturer. No doubt, it has the natural advantage of “rich experience from numerous practices”, which makes it distinctive from its peers. At the same time, we embrace the idea of customer-orientation by combining the technical advantages of equipment manufacturing with our rich construction experience.

With advanced and reliable equipment technology and efficient after-sales service, we’ve become a solution provider for clients. We insist on working together with our customers throughout a project’s duration. While constantly solving engineering and technical problems, we are continuously accumulating, optimizing and upgrading our equipment innovation and technology in a bid to make our equipment better, and customers more satisfied.

CREG is known as a professional equipment manufacturer with adequate construction experience and a leading service provider with manufacturing know-how. Based on our core competitiveness in manufacturing and customer service, CREG has become the largest TBM manufacturer in China within 10 years. The market share of its TBMs has been topping for 8 consecutive years, since 2012; while its production and sales volume have stood first for 3 consecutive years, since 2017.

It is now 7-8 years since you started to explore world markets; what business potential do you see in developing countries like Asia, the Middle East and Africa?
In 2012, the third year since its establishment, CREG started its international business and entered the Malaysian market. Since then, CREG has been vigorously promoting its overseas strategy. Up till now, we have entered 20 countries and regions in the world, including Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai, Italy, Denmark, Australia, etc., with more than 50 sets of equipment. In 2019, our products entered the heart of the European market --- Paris/France.

The developing markets have a huge potential, especially in recent years as the economy of Asian and Middle East markets is recovering. A lot of infrastructure is being implemented, including the track project, which is a very good opportunity for us. In the African market, we pay more attention to people’s livelihood projects such as water diversion projects, hydropower projects, and a small number of rail transit projects. We already have a project in Algiers, the capital of Algeria, which will continue to increase in the future, so we are optimistic about its potential.

CREG Φ15.80m Slurry TBM for Chunfeng TunnelCREG Φ15.80m Slurry TBM for Chunfeng Tunnel

What advantages does CREG’s tunneling equipment have over German and Japanese brands?
In the past 10 years, CREG has grown from scratch and become the world’s first in terms of production and sales volume for three consecutive years. In fact, each manufacturer has its own unique advantages and competitiveness. When compared with the German manufacturers, CREG has the same level of technology, but it has a competitive advantage with respect to pricing and customer service. Compared with Japanese manufacturers, especially in the middle and high-end market, CREG has a great advantage in technology, quality and service. CREG always embraces the idea of customer orientation and is willing to provide customized services.

In our equipment design, we adopt a combination of relevance, reliability and specialized manufacturing to ensure the highest quality of equipment, along with timely, efficient and professional services to our customers. Our aim is to constantly enhance the efficiencies of engineering construction and to create value for our customers. Due to this approach, we find that engineering contractors are more willing to work with CREG.

What are the challenges, opportunities, growth prospects, and key factors driving the South East Asian Tunnel Boring Machine markets?
Opportunities and development prospects are on the rise as the economy is recovering and a large number of infrastructure projects are under consideration in countries like South Korea, Singapore, and India, where rail transit projects are booming. The key market drivers are ongoing demand for underground space development, promotion of the “Sponge City” concept, and recovery of the infrastructure market, including gradual improvement of urban rail transit, construction of large tunnels across rivers and seas, to name a few.

However, competition is becoming more and more fierce. While old competitors are still there, emerging competitors are constantly entering the international markets, raising higher requirements for product quality, equipment selection and configuration, timely service, etc.

Please share a case study of a challenging project in Malaysia where CREG tunneling solutions were deployed and completed withing the stipulated timeline?
During the construction of the Kuala Lumpur Metro Line 1 in Malaysia, the geological information encountered was inconsistent with the geological information in the bidding document. One section of stratum had the highest hardness of 298mpa (about 300mpa). The two TBMs provided by CREG successfully overcame these unexpected geological conditions, making the average daily excavation about 10m and a maximum monthly excavation of 341m. Within 15 months, CREG successfully completed two launches and completed the excavation of a total length of 2203m. This was highly praised by the customers, local owners, and the community.

What are the latest innovations in Tunneling technologies at CREG and what does its partnership with Metalliance entail?
CREG is committed to technological innovation and research. In recent years, we have achieved a series of innovations such as intelligent TBM, new rock breaking technology, cutterhead intervention manipulator, miniaturized TBM for mining, shaft TBM, etc.

Metalliance is a well-known French company specializing in research and manufacture of industrial equipment and mobile machinery. Its business scope mainly covers tunnel engineering machinery, underground engineering, track laying machinery, industrial equipment, mechanical welding structure, etc. Its products and CREG’s TBM equipment are supporting products in tunnel construction, with a high degree of complementarity.

The cooperation between CREG and Metalliance can not only provide customers with complete packaging services of tunnel equipment, but also help promote technical advances of our products on both sides to better serve customers. We value such strategic alliances and hope to cooperate with excellent companies from all over the world.
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