A key actor in the tunnel sector, ACIMEX is regularly sought after by the international manufacturers of tunnel boring machines during the construction of underground worksites. For some years, China has been a privileged Asian partner for the French SME. ACIMEX is now developing its range of TUNNELIFT lifters to store, demould or position segments, which will be set on CREG tunnels.
Who is CREG, the Chinese giant leader in tunnel construction in Asia?
CREG - a Chinese group, headquartered in central China - is a TBM manufacturer. The company has over 3,000 employees with some 20 factories across the country. CREG tunnel boring machines have been used to drill subways, water transfer and sewer tunnels as well as rail and road tunnels in China and abroad. CREG has already built nearly 767 tunnel boring machines and has integrated into its product portfolio a wide range of ancillary equipment aimed at giant drilling, roadblocks and rolling stock.
The Chinese company also focuses on the development of new technologies and supports the Hyperloop project as "Gold Sponsor" of the new transport mode offered by Elon Musk.
Leader on the Chinese market, CREG has been winning more and more international contracts from year to year, thus gaining market share from its direct competitors.
A relationship of trust between ACIMEX and the Chinese manufacturer
The partnership between CREG and ACIMEX started in 2012 for a specific project in Malaysia. CREG became a regular buyer from 2016 onwards, and is now in the TOP 5 of ACIMEX’s best clients.
CREG is mainly located in Asian countries (Singapore, China etc.), but it also extends on other continents. Many vacuum lifters, segment trolleys and erectors have been sold for tunnel construction projects in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and even Algeria. At the beginning of 2019, the Chinese group won its first major tunnel project in Europe: a vacuum lifter and an erector were delivered to the Italian railway line of the Turin-Venice line.
"One of ACIMEX's strengths is its after-sales service," says the Purchasing Manager at CREG. Customers are very sensitive because the sites require a great responsiveness in the supply of spare parts. The construction of a tunnel is a succession of stages: drilling of the well, advancement of the cutting head, arrangement of the rings, excavation of the earth etc. If a link in this chain is delayed because of a restocking of parts or material, it is the entire TBM that suffers the consequences. With huge financial stakes, there is no doubt that the quality of the after-sales service combined with the quality of ACIMEX products are key factors for the success of the various tunnel construction projects.
Looking towards the future with the ACIMEX-CREG partnership
"The prospects of the tunnel sector are rather reassuring," says the Purchasing Manager at CREG , "thanks to a stable commercial market". With a production time of 2 to 3 months, manufacturing teams and premises all over China, CREG has already exported its products to 17 countries. This collaboration allows ACIMEX to access a large number of projects in countries where the French company is not used to working, thus increasing its reputation and its marketing area.