Tunnel boring machines are gigantic special-purpose machines, particularly used in building tunnels for roads, railways, and pipelines. These machines are long with circular cross-sections and help in boring round holes through any rock. Tunnel boring machines are intricate assemblies of several systems working in conjunction with each other. Diameter of tunnel boring machines ranges from 1 meter to 20 meters. These machines can cut clean through rocks, sometimes along with creating concrete shields around the bored tunnels.
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The tunnel boring machine market is largely driven by the increase in spending on road and railway infrastructure. Countries such as China, Japan, Italy, South Korea, Norway, and Germany have vast tunnel networks. The key reason is to connect major cities within the country, sometimes even international, with minimum commute time. This largely optimizes the transportation costs and connects cities to boost commerce. The other method for building tunnels is by using explosives; however, explosives are highly dangerous and it is often difficult to control the explosion. They are also a threat for men and machines working in the tunnel. Slight deviation in the charge of explosives can completely jeopardize the project. Thus, tunnel boring machines are the ideal alternatives for tunneling operations.
Based on the rock that has to be tunneled, the tunnel boring machine market can be divided into hard rock TBM, soft rock TBM, and dual mode/custom TBM. All three types are specially altered according to rock. Different cutting heads are employed for soft rock. Stronger/harder heads are used for harder rocks. Similarly, other sub-systems used also vary such as conveyer systems, cutting fluids systems, and shielding systems. The hard rock TBM segment can further be sub-segmented into open TBM; gripper TBM; double shield TBM; and single shield TBM. Depending upon how hard the rock is, either of the three is elected. Similarly, the soft rock TBM segment can be split into earth pressure balance TBM and slurry head TBM. Slurry head TBM is more suitable when the water content in the rock is considerably high (soily rock). The dual mode or custom TBM are specially designed for a specific terrain and rock type. Furthermore, based on application, the tunnel boring machine market can be segmented into traffic tunneling and utility tunneling. The traffic tunneling segment can be sub-segmented into road tunneling and railway/metro tunneling. The utility tunneling segment can be further classified into water and sewage, hydropower, and pipelines.
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In terms of geography, the global tunnel boring machine market can be classified into Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. Asia Pacific is the key market for tunnel boring machine, due to the increasing government expenditure on infrastructure and rapid road and rail network expansion in the region. Countries such as China, Japan, and South Korea have the longest total tunnel roads in the world. The governments of China and Japan invest significantly in tunnels for faster commute between major cities. Furthermore, the topography of Japan and major parts of China is mountainous and hilly. Thus, tunnels play an important role in the construction of road and rail. Europe follows Asia Pacific in the global tunnel boring machine market. Demand for tunnel boring machine is high in the hilly terrain in Italy, Spain, and France. Countries such as India, Brazil, and South Africa have started increasing the expenditure on roads and railway networks. This is anticipated to create substantial opportunities for manufacturers of tunnel boring machines.
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