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First XGMA tunnel borer rolls off production line

A tunnel-boring machine (TBM) with a cutting shield 6.45m in diameter has been made by the Chinese company XGMA-CREC for subway construction in the southeast Chinese city of Xiamen. The machine — the company’s first — is 86m long, weighs over 500 tonnes and delivers more than 1800kW of power.

XGMA-CREC is a joint venture between the China Railway Engineering Equipment Group and Xiamen XGMA Machinery Co, known in Australia for its line of wheel loaders and excavators.

The No.001 XGMA-CREC Shield Machine, also known as the ‘Big Guy’, was only seven months in production — it was designed in October last year, entered the assembly phase in March this year and was finished in April. The whole process included workshop infrastructure construction, product design and research, production facilities assembly and production debugging.

XGMA-CREC technical staff conducted many field studies and a thorough geological survey. The subway route features multiple geological conditions, such as slightly weathered granite, a mixed rock layer, a transition zone of soft upper layer and rigid lower layer, and a spherical weathering rock layer.

To make sure the project went smoothly, XGMA-CREC made detailed construction period plans, set up a project management team and developed a sound quality-control system to allow for the real-time supervision of design and manufacturing.

According to the working staff, using this kind of shield machine in tunnel construction can be more automatic and realize tunneling in one time. It can save man power, speed up the construction regardless of climate influence and control the ground subsidence during drilling. It is an advanced method of construction.

GMA says TBMs are now widely used in China for the construction of subway, highway, railway, water, electricity and municipal public tunnels. According to the Chinese Government’s 12th 5-year plan (2011-2015), TBMs are in high demand for the construction of railway tunnels, diversion projects, highway (cross-river) tunnels, city pipeline construction and city rail transit management.

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