04 June 2020

Interaction-Kapil Bhati, MD, Robbins Tunneling and trenchless Technology

We have been growing at a steady pace since our debut in India

With the infrastructure scene now hotting up across India in terms of construction of new metros, hydro and irrigation projects which require tunneling work the US based Robbins Company, the world’s foremost manufacturer and developer of advanced underground construction equipment like Tunnel Boring Machines, sees huge business prospects. KAPIL BHATI, MD, ROBBINS TUNNELING AND TRENCHLESS TECHNOLOGY (I) PVT LTD spoke to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES on  his company’s products and future plans.


Briefly tell us key features/USPs that have contributed in strengthening and maintaining your stronghold in the market?

For over 60 years, Robbins laid innovation in the tunneling industry. Here are few innovations listed below.

  • First main beam TBM.
  • First double shield TBM.
  • First 19 inch cutters.
  • First successful rock boring head for auger boring machine.
  • First successful employment of disc cutters to bore hard rock.
  • First floating gripper design allowing continuous steering of a TBM.
  • First variable frequency cutter head drive.
  • First wedge – lock cutter mounting system.

We manufactured the world’s first rock tunnel boring machine (TBM), shortly when James Robbins founded in 1952. The TBM was built for Mitry Constructors who were working on some irrigation project near Pierre, South Dakota, USA.

The company also invented both the Main Beam and Double Shield TBMs. We are best known for the very successful Main Beam TBMs and are a pioneer in hard rock Double Shield machines too. We also hold the world record for 90 per cent production of TBMs from 3 to over 14 m in diameter.


Please offer your assessment of the importance of shows like bauma CONEXPO INDIA for companies such as yours and tell us of your own previous experience? Expectations from hosting venues?

Bauma Conexpo India is one of  South Asia’s largest event for construction equipment sector and surely is one of the biggest platforms to showcase the wide range of products and latest business developments of the company. Robbins India has also acquired a booth number H2.F32 to showcase our products and strong presence in the Indian market. Robbins India will focus on New Crossover series TBM’s, Earth pressure balance machine (Soft soil and Mixed face) for the upcoming underground metro jobs in Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Kanpur, also in hydro power sector and road tunnels across the country.

Our Rock machines have always been in great demand and therefore will be showcased in this event. We also intend to capture the Microtunneling market in India as it has a great potential to grow and lot of small diameter work are coming in from different municipalities in India.


With increased focus on infrastructure; what are the scope for specialised construction in India?

Indian Construction equipment industry looks promising especially with the Delhi Metro execution for phase 3 which envisages adding 140 km of the network and the construction completion at Bangalore Phase I, Chennai Phase I etc. and metros are being planned in other cities of the country like Bangalore - Phase II, Chennai – Phase II, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Mumbai – Phase III, and Ahmedabad along with the road tunnels, highways, hydroelectric power projects that are under way and would require enormous number of equipment’s of all types which will bring a boom in the construction industry and for the coming 10 years from now there would be vast pool of opportunities available for us to cater in all spheres.


As a company what are your specific plans for bauma CONEXPO INDIA 2016 – have you devised any new marketing strategy to push your products?

Robbins India has acquired a booth number H2.F32 to showcase our products and market our strong presence in the Indian market. Robbins India will focus on New Crossover series TBM’s. The Robbins Company has recently launched our Crossover series of TBMs which can work in combination of mixed soils and rock respectively. The XRE stands for Crossover Rock/EPB which is the most common type of dual/hybrid machine having features of Single Shield Hard Rock machines and EPBs for efficient boring in mixed soil and rock.
Other types of Crossover machines are XSE (Crossover between Slurry/EPB) and the XRS (Crossover between Rock/Slurry) TBMs.

What are your future plans for Indian market?

Robbins India has been growing at a steady pace since the date of its debut. With so many projects in pipeline in the transport sector, hydro and irrigation tunnels, Robbins sees a huge growth potential thereby increasing our market share and having more projects in our kitty. We are also planning to setup an assembly plant which will be used for the refurbishment of existing TBMs in India.

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