Mar 1, 2021


With close to 900 units sold, CREG is a leading player in the tunnel boring industry. The state-owned company is headquartered in Zhengzhou, Central China. It has taken part in tunneling projects in several Chinese cities as well as Singapore, Malaysia, India, Europe, and the Middle East. With a workforce of 3,000 employees distributed over 18 locations worldwide, the company provides an end-to-end service, from the tender to the tunnel completion.creg-bores

CREG Tunnel Boring Machine

Mr. Zhou, Director of the Hydraulic Department, takes us on a company tour and talks about their relationship with Poclain Hydraulics.

CREG is a leading brand in tunnel boring. What is the key to your success?

Mr. Zhou: CREG’s success stems from its strong engineering culture (the company employs 500 engineers) and on-going partnership with its strategic suppliers such as Siemens, Elin, Zollern, and Schneider Electric. These supply chain partnerships help maintain a high product quality level. As far as servicing is concerned, CREG benefits from its mother company’s network, the state-owned China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC). They provide field service all around the world and a high production capacity that guarantees a quick turnaround time.

From the outside, a tunnel boring project seems hugely complex. How long does it take to come to fruition?

Mr. Zhou: As we have worked on many subway projects, we understand their requirements and have a standard solution. The project can move fast. On the other projects involving larger machines, mixed ground conditions, or severe water inflow, we create a custom design that combines several boring processes. Water management projects are the longest to come to fruition, and our longest took 12 years to come through. Not only do the projects take time, but they also require specific training. A minority of clients choose to hire our crews, so we train their technicians and deliver a certificate to those who pass the test.

What is the lifetime of a tunnel boring machine? Which parts need replacing?

Mr. Zhou: The lifetime of a tunnel boring machine (TBM) is usually 10 km or 10,000 hours. At the end of a project, we remanufacture the TBM so that it is fit to go back underground. The cutter tools are the parts that wear the most, especially with hard rock. Sometimes they need to be replaced every hour. A TBM machine is worth several million dollars, but sometimes replacing the cutter tools can cost more than the machine price.

Some of your machines integrate Poclain Hydraulics’ motors. What brought you to choose our technology?

Mr. Zhou: We use your MS motors on a wide range of TBM functions: sizes 02 to 35 power our conveyors, shotcrete arms, augers, and concrete segment erectors. We also use MS50s on our slurry mixers and MS125s on our cutter heads. There are MS50 motors powering the mixer on an award-winning slurry TBM that we delivered two years ago. With its 15.8 meter diameter, it’s one of the largest models ever made in China. We appreciate the compact envelope of the Poclain Hydraulics motors; it’s a requirement on the small TBM models. And we value the Chinese team’s outstanding responsiveness, anytime we need their assistance on the field.


3.5 meter diameter TBM head with 4 x MS125

How are CREG TBMs integrating IoT?

Mr. Zhou: Our TBMs integrate sensors that enable our remote support centers to monitor the ground conditions, the progress of our TBMs, and the state of their components in real-time. We notify the technicians on-site as soon as a part needs replacing. As cities grow denser with no room left to expand, tunnels and underground structures enable them to ease traffic, transport the residents, and create space for parking. Tunnel boring machines play a strategic role in our expanding underground world, and Poclain Hydraulics commits to pursuing their R&D work to offer system solutions that meet the extreme conditions of the application.

For more information or to discuss your particular project, contact Thierry Delage, Poclain Hydraulics Market Manager