(Yicai Global) May 9 -- The world's largest high-end underground engineering equipment manufacturing base has gone into operation in Hunan province in south-central China, the provincial government announced today.
State-backed China Railway Construction Heavy Industry Co. was the prime contractor on this facility which has drilled through CNY5 billion (USD786 million) in investment, will create 3,000 new jobs in the local area and have an annual output of up to CNY5 billion or more.
"As the base goes into operation, our company is moving towards full-intelligent equipment manufacturing," said Liu Feixiang, board chairman of China Railway Construction Heavy Industry.
"We will explore the adoption of advanced technologies such as virtual design, emulation and artificial intelligence, making each device robot-like and creating intelligent cluster systems for tunnel construction," Liu said. "By so doing, we will strive to achieve digitized unmanned operation in tunnels," he added.
Groundbreaking on the 0.67 square-kilometer facility took place in July. Advanced production facilities with leading modern plants, an elevated warehouse, research and development buildings, large-scale numerical controls and smart detection equipment, an automatic production line and robotic workstation have all been completed, per the announcement.
The complex will produce high-end intelligent tunnel-construction equipment, including heading machines (to bore through softer ground) and shield tunneling machines (for hard rock). One of the latter to be used for subway construction in Istanbul, Turkey has been accepted as the first made-in-China shield tunneling machine exported to Europe.
China's yearly tunneling mileage in railway, highway, subway and hydraulic engineering has stayed above 5,000 kilometers per year over the last five years, with over 90 percent of the tunnel construction still done through traditional manual borehole-blasting approaches, Liu noted. Apart from their longer construction period, these methods also have a lower safety coefficient and cause serious pollution, he added.
Editor: Ben Armour