Over the next few years, the eyes of the world will be firmly fixed insideChina’s borders — in particular, there are two events that country officialspoint to as keys to its economic future. First, the Summer Olympics are comingto its capital city of Beijing in 2008, and then the World Expo opens for asix-month run in the city of Shanghai two years later.
Beyond these two gigantic and important events, which alone will shine themedia’s bright and harsh spotlight on this country, Chinese officials want toentice more business to their country. To accomplish these goals, they mustbring their cities into the modern age and open its doors to outside help.
Is the country ready? Specifically, right now, are Beijing and Shanghaiready?
The construction industry is booming and covers the spectrum frombuildings to pipelines to high-speed railways. Perhaps most importantly,attention is being given to the country’s antiquated infrastructure, which ifnot properly addressed, could hold back China’s drive to the economicforefront.
More and more companies are doing business with China in recent years and thecountry continues to climb the economic ladder — it was recently accepted intothe World Trade Organization (WTO).
Enter trenchless technology. China has become one of the hot spots for thetrenchless world. As the country continues to modernize its water, sewer andtelecommunications networks, trenchless products, technologies and techniqueshave become popular methods of those endeavors. Though in some casesrehabilitation is being used, an overwhelming percentage of the infrastructureneeds a complete replacement.
Horizontal directional drilling (HDD). Pipe bursting. Microtunneling. PipeRamming. These are all trenchless methods being employed in China.
China was first introduced to trenchless technology in the 1990s asinternational trenchless leaders brought the technology to the attention of theChinese government, which tenders the contracts and issued an administrativedirective that the technology be employed when possible. Since then, the countryhas been an economic boon for the trenchless marketplace as an influx oftrenchless companies have opened plants, offices and shared their knowledge withthe Chinese.
The list of trenchless companies that have worked in China continues to growas does the number of opportunities. Over the years, prominent companies workingin China have included Vermeer Mfg., Herrenknecht, Ditch Witch, Digital ControlInc., American Augers, HOBAS, Barbco Inc., EarthTool, The Robbins Co. and CETCO— and there are many others.
The city of Shanghai is one ofthe country’s brightest stars — and its wealthiest city. Home to more than 18million people, the city has been described as China’s industrial base and itsfinancial capital. The city is peppered with high-rise buildings, with plans formore developing every day.
According to the Web site, www.shanghai-ed.com, Shanghai is China’s largestcity, its largest port and its largest industrial base. The site notes that thecity is home to the best shops and restaurants in China and is also known as“The Dragon Head” of East China, the leading economic driving force.
The site further says that Shanghai has the most skilled workforce in thecountry and has good transportation and communication links. The city is notedfor its production of textiles and other consumer products, although manyfactories are now being shifted to the outskirts of the city or to inland areas.Shanghai is also one of China’s top centers of learning and is populated withmany universities and institutes including Fudan and Jiaotung universities.
Shanghai’s current water supply network has approximately 7,000 km of pipe,of which more than 800 km has served more than 30 years. More than 5,000 km ofthe pipe is made of gray cast iron and does not have any anti-corrosion coating,hence the water supply’s quality and assurance are at risk by a multitude offactors such as pipe corrosion and low quality materials.
With its densely populated neighborhoods and business districts, Shanghai isin the perfect position to utilize the benefits of trenchless technologies —most notably its non-disruptive nature and sensitivity to the environment it isworking in.
The World Expo comes to Shanghai in 2010 and the city will host millions ofvisitors from around the globe, most experiencing China and Shanghai for thefirst time. Shanghai leaders want to make a tremendous first impression. Sinceawarded the Expo in 2002, Chinese officials have undertaken a massiveinfrastructure revamping.
Trenchless Technology International contacted a few established andsuccessful Shanghai companies that are involved in trenchless operations in thecity: Shanghai Water Special Engineering Co., Shanghai Municipal Gas No. 2Engineering Co. Ltd. and Shanghai Win-Market Trenchless Technology EngineeringCo. We wanted to learn of their perspectives of the trenchless market inShanghai and their thoughts on the industry as a whole, as well as theircontribution to the trenchless market.
Shanghai Water Special EngineeringCo.
Shanghai Water Special Engineering Co. was founded in 2000 in thePudong District of Shanghai. A certified pipeline contractor, the companycurrently employs 122 workers and specializes in several trenchless methodsincluding HDD, pipe relining and pipe cleaning and spraying projects.
Zhu Feng Xiang, general manager of Shanghai Water, says the Pudong Districtis an excellent location for Shanghai Water. “Pudong, being the fastestdeveloping area of Shanghai, provides the opportunity of both project volume andthe potential for growth.”
He says that his company primarily does work involving water pipelines buthas also done projects for sewer, gas, electrical and fiber pipelines. “Westarted moving in the trenchless area two years ago,” Zhu says. “And now most ofour work is trenchless related. The expected growth rate for us is 30 percentper year for the next several years.”
The company considers itself very much a leader in the push for trenchlesstechnology in China, noting that it was the first in Shanghai to use no-digrehabilitation technology in a water system. Zhu sees its role as a leader intrenchless as a key to its continued success. “Our motto is ‘leading technologyleads the way.’ I ensure that we are always at the leading edge of thetechnology,” he says. “The best way to keep up is to be the leader. That’s why atremendous amount of the company’s resources is invested in [research anddevelopment].”
Shanghai Water Special Engineering has also participated in leadingtrenchless shows, such as the recent International No-Dig in Rotterdam, where itpresented two technical papers on projects it completed, one discussing itspatented stainless steel lining for pipe relining. Company officials also planto participate in the TRENCHLESS ASIA conference in Shanghai in March, as wellas the 2006 International No-Dig conference in Brisbane, Australia.
Zhu says the most utilized trenchless method today in China is HDD but seesrehabilitation methods “as the next big thing” to catch on with owners andcontractors. “This is especially true for an old city like Shanghai. There areover 7,000 km of water pipes in Shanghai and 5,000 km of those need to bereplaced or repaired now,” he says. “It will take all possible means to achievesuch a volume. There is no other way but trenchless rehab.”
Using trenchless is critical to the infrastructure’s progression, Zhu says.“The density and population of China’s cities are the perfect case for the useof trenchless technology,” he says. “I cannot imagine how much of a trafficproblem we would have created for Shanghai without the availability oftrenchless technology.”
Zhu believes that the trenchless market will continue to skyrocket at leastuntil the 2010 World Expo. “But we have more than Shanghai in mind,” he says.“There are hundreds of cities [in China] in which trenchless technology isvirtually unknown.
Shanghai Municipal Gas No. 2 Pipelines EngineeringCo. Ltd.
Shanghai Municipal Gas No. 2 Pipelines Engineering wasfounded in 1987 in the Pudong District and was established by the Shanghaimunicipal government as a specialized company for gas pipeline installation andmaintenance. A subsidiary of the Shanghai Urban Construction Group, the companyis a certified general contractor and a certified pressurized pipelinecontractor. It set up business in the Pudong District in order to carry out allgas pipeline-related projects in that district.
The company handles traditional pipeline installation work, as well as HDD,pipe ramming and online gas pipe repair. Wang Zhi Hua with the company says theShanghai Municipal Gas’s first official entry into the trenchless arena was in2002 — the year it purchased its first directional drill. “Before that, we haddone work using pipe jacking and sliplining,” Wang says. “It was not until 2002when a major project was carried out by our own people that [HDD] became a dailyroutine. HDD remains the primary method for most of our trenchlessprojects.”
Trenchless technology has been the key to Shanghai’s infrastructureimprovements, Wang says, noting that the technology is still in its infancy inChina. As of 10 years ago, digging was the only way constructing newinfrastructure was handled, Shanghai included. “In Shanghai, we have completedmost of the infrastructure and the city is, at least at the surface, a moderncity,” Hua says. “Today with most of the aboveground infrastructure in place,there is no room for digging. The only way to install and improve undergroundpipelines is to go trenchless… With the use of trenchless technology inShanghai, it would have delayed development of our underground infrastructure orput the whole city into a halt as a result of digging.”
Wang credits the Shanghai municipal government for recognizing the need forusing trenchless technology and opening the doors for its use. HDD is by far themost used technology, although it does have its limitations with China’s use ofconcrete pipes.
“In the past years, most of the use of trenchless technology in China hasbeen for new installation and that is why we see the tremendous growth of usingHDD,” Wang says. “In the coming years, there will come the time forrehabilitation methods. I expect to see the rapid growth and requirement forrehab methods such as sliplining and CIPP.”
Like Zhu, he notes that though trenchless is being utilized in the morerecognized cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, it is stillrelatively unheard of in most cities in China. “If one would look at China as awhole, [the word] infancy is absolutely an understatement,” hesays.
Wang also believes that networking at international trenchless conferences isvital to the growth of trenchless technology in China. The company hasparticipated in the TRENCHLESS ASIA shows, as well as other international gasindustry shows. “I believe it is important for a company like us in such a highgrowth market to be active in industry events,” he says. “We need to be moreactive in the international arena. There is so much we can learn from ourinternational colleagues.”
Shanghai Win-Market Trenchless TechnologyEngineering Co. Ltd.
Shanghai Win-Market Trenchless TechnologyEngineering Co. was established in 2002 as part of the municipal government’sadministrative directive for contractors to employ the use of trenchlesstechnologies. Zhao Jian Ping, who had a background in drinking water andelectrical components, and his partners saw an exciting opportunity and startedthe company. Today, it employs 150 people and has completed more than 100projects over the last three years.
The company’s management office is located in the Puxi District of Shanghai,whereas its warehouse and workshop are located in the Minhang District. Its mainwork product involves mostly power cable but Shanghai Win-Market has also donework on water pipelines, gas, fiber cable and sewer. “We are active in almostevery sector of underground pipe,” Zhao says. “We are partners with the ShanghaiMunicipal Power Co. so most of our work is done in the metropolitan Shanghaiarea and mostly for power cable. Due to our reputation in carrying out complexand difficult projects, we have been called upon to attack major projects inGuandong, Zhejiang and Nanjing.”
Zhao describes the amount of incomplete infrastructure work in China as “mindboggling,” and adds, “It is the central government’s policy to useinfrastructure growth to lead the economic growth. We can expect a high growthrate in this sector for many years to come. Trenchless technology will play avery important role in this, especially in the urban areas.”
Shanghai Win-Market utilizes HDD in its projects and recently completed arecord crossing in Guangdong where a 1,600-m river crossing was done using219-mm pipe, Zhao says. But the company is more than just a contractor; it hasdeveloped its own back reamers, as well as a special grouting formula that hasproven to be effective for working in the soft soil conditions of Shanghai. Zhaoalso notes that the company is in the process of starting a division fortunneling and rehabilitation.
With the HDD method firmly in use in China, Zhao sees the development ofother trenchless applications on the horizon. But more than just implementingtrenchless methods, Zhao says that it is also important that China focuses ondamage prevention issues for all trenchless applications. The company alsoparticipates in the TRENCHLESS ASIA shows, as well as the other establishednational and international trenchless conferences, with its leadersunderstanding the importance of learning from others.
“I am just proud that I decided to join the trenchless community,” Zhao says.“It is impossible to comprehend how the citizens of Shanghai would have sufferedif many of our trenchless projects were completed by open-cut. [ShanghaiWin-Market] went from knowing nothing to being an expert in the field in threeyears. It takes a lot of hard work to keep up. Foresight is the key andresources are also important. We have invested millions of dollars in equipmentand training. Another key to our success is to develop our own technology soothers would have to try to keep up with us.
“The challenges are plenty, both external and internal,” Zhao continues. “Thefun of business is facing challenges and conquering them. We are ready.”
Sharon M. Bueno is managing editor of Trenchless TechnologyInternational. Derek Choi, a member of the executive sub-committee of ISTT andis also the international director of CHKSTT, assisted with theinterviews/photography.