28 March 2020

Interaction-Rajeev Kumar, CEO, Friends Equipment

Our aim is to play an active role in metro projects by bringing our best products and services at a competitive price

FRIENDS EQUIPMENT is the authorized PAN India distributor for China Railway Construction Heavy Industry Co., Ltd. (CRCHI) a leading company in design, research manufacturing and service of high-end underground engineering equipment and track equipment. RAJEEV KUMAR, CEO, FRIENDS EQUIPMENT spoke to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES on the company’s product offerings in the metro rail space.


Could you brief us on your range of product or solutions and their applications in the metro rail space?

China Railway Construction Heavy Industry Co., Ltd. (CRCHI) was founded in 2007 and affiliated to China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), which ranks 62nd in the world's top 500 enterprise. CRCHI is a professional enterprise which integrates research, design, manufacture and service of high-end underground engineering equipment and track equipment, such as Tunnel Boring Machine, Drill Jumbo, Shotcrete, Railway fasteners, turnouts and so on.


Any new products introduced in the market – and how have they been received? Tell us about the geographies/projects in which they are being targeted?

CRCHI brand tunnel boring machines, which include Earth Pressure Balance Shield, Slurry Pressure Balance Shield, Hard Rock TBM and Dual Mode TBM etc. are used for excavating underground metro tunnels; fasteners and turnouts are widely used in the alignment of metro and railways. No matter what kind of methodology will be used for the tunnel construction, CRCHI can provide one-stop solutions for TBM tunnel, NATM tunnel and drill and blast tunnel etc.


As a company, give us a sense of the emphasis you place on R&D and innovation? Provide the USP’s of your offerings vis-a-vis competition

CRCHI actively takes the advantages of the construction industry and fully uses the long-term construction experience and technique of CRCC, strengthening the combination of industry, university, research and application. Currently, CRCHI has multiple manufacture bases in Changsha, Zhuzhou, Longchang, Lanzhou, Urumqi, Baotou, Dalian, Taiyuan and Guangzhou as well as 11 research institutes in Changsha, Beijing and Lanzhou etc., CRCHI has the biggest R&D center and manufacturing capability in the world for Tunnel boring machine, annual capacity is over 300 units, more than 100 units of TBM has been manufactured and delivered in the year 2016.


Which are the metro projects in which you are present, their current status, scope of work and cost, timeline for completion?

CRCC constructed over 1,209km length of tunnel in 2016 and CRCHI TBM has be used for 27 cities’ metro lines in China. Our machines are also working in Iran, Taiwan and Russia. In India, we are focusing on all metro jobs including Delhi metro, Bangalore metro and Ahmedabad metro, Nagpur metro etc., but also other tunneling projects where the TBM will be used.

What are the opportunities you are seeking in the metro space going forward? Tell us of the metro projects in which you are looking to contribute?

India is just like the Chinese market, both countries have a large number of population and have developed quickly, however infrastructure needs to be improved to meet the daily requirement of people’s transportation. Hence, metro as one part of three - dimensional transportation network is very popular in India; CRCHI, which is one of the pioneer of underground equipment manufacturers in the world, would like to contribute its advanced technology and machinery in the construction of Indian Metro System.


Give us an understanding of your manufacturing facilities, locations, their capacities to support various metro rail projects?

CRCHI has established many manufacturing bases in Changsha, Zhuzhou, Longchang and Lanzhou, with 11 research institutes in Changsha, Beijing and Lanzhou, the technology centre has more than 600 research personnel. CRCHI has 5200 employees, among 74 senior title employees, 324 medium title employees, 539 junior title employees and 1647 technicians, we also have 5000t pressure machine with world’s leading level and related devices. CRCHI is the only one professional enterprise which owns development capability of both shield and mining method tunnel equipment, and also has the shield/TBM professional production line with world biggest production capacity, complete equipment and the most advanced technology all over the world. Self-developed high-end shield/TBM with fully self-intellectual property right has been worked in the railway projects of Changsha, Beijing, Xi’an, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing, and Fuzhou, self-developed mining tunnel machinery with world’s leading level has been worked at high speed railway construction site of Shanghai-Kunming line and Chengdu-Chongqing line. CRCHI has world’s most advanced turnout, rail fastener production line, the products are widely used in high-speed railway, such as Beijing-Shanghai, Wuhan-Guangzhou high speed railways.CRCHI Turnout Company is a newly professional turnout manufacturing plant with CNY 500,000,000.00 ($73, 000,000) investment capital which was established on the basis of railway construction requirement of domestic passenger dedicated line, and its annual design and production capability of turnout is 5000 sets.


Please share with us a Case Study of one of your metro rail projects, the challenges faced and how you overcame them.

On March 12, CRCHI slurry/earth pressure balanced shield machine launched at the northern extension of Line 8 of Guangzhou Rail Transit.

Continuous and safe advance of SPB machine is realized by the balance between the mudpack tension and pressure from earth and water on the excavation face. Compared with that of EPB machine, the slurry control process of SPB is more stable and the the control performance is more concise. So SPB machine is especially suitable for most large tunnel projects which go through rivers and lakes and have high demand for excavation face stability with high water content and strong permeable layer.

As the complicated engineering hydrology of this project, the shield machine needs to go through long distance of high-viscosity silty clay, silty sand with high permeability, medium-coarse sand, full-section moderate weathered limestone and upper-soft lower-hard formations. The machine also may meet boulders or karst caves on the way and some unpredicted situation happened on the ground.

Considering these situations, CRCHI combined slurry balance mode and earth balance mode and developed the dual-mode shield machine which has the technical features of both EPB and SPB to better control excavation face pressure and to keep the ground stable while ensuring tunneling efficiency. In silty clay layer the shield machine switches to EPB mode while in sand layer it switches to SPB mode.


Provide us a brief idea of the existing market opportunities and your strategy to tap those going forward?

Currently, many cities in India are planning or already started to build metro lines, like Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Lucknow and so on, which means the local Governments are giving lots of importance to the construction of metro projects. CRCHI are willing to work together with local organisation or company to develop the metro projects and bring our best products and service at a competitive price.


Future outlook for the industry and from a company perspective.

The first step of CRCHI is selling the first unit of TBM in Indian Market and building its good reputation, then we will set up the Indian Sub-company in Mumbai /Delhi and gradually we will start the assembly line in India. The company’s perspective is to achieve the CRCHI TBMs brand with the logo of “Make In India” in future.

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