As part of China’s initiative to boost economic opportunities in Eurasia, a major expansion of the Karokoram Highway-II – a new Silk Road, in effect – is underway. A fleet of Volvo Construction Equipment machines is helping to pave the way for cross-continent connectivity.
Within a matter of decades, China has transformed itself from an agricultural economy to the manufacturing and industrial powerhouse. The Chinese construction market is the largest in the world, comprising approximately one quarter of the country’s US$11 trillion economy. However, slowing domestic growth in recent years has motivated the Chinese government to invest in ambitious infrastructure projects in a bid to better connect China with the Western world.
The One Belt, One Road initiative – also known as the New Silk Road – includes plans to revive trade routes along the ancient Silk Road, as well as connect China with the rest of Eurasia. The initiative is more than a transportation network that will bring Europe and Asia closer together – it aims to bring development and prosperity across Eurasia.
A crucial element of the One Belt, One Road masterplan is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a program intended to strengthen industrial cooperation and connectivity between China and Pakistan. By backing projects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China and its array of businesses stand to build partnerships and create inroads to the surrounding regions.
One part of the new economic corridor is a 102 km (74.5 mi) section of the Karakoram Highway-II (KKH-II), spanning the cities of Thakot and Havelian in northern Pakistan. The cross-border high-speed motorway will be constructed over 42 months, starting from October 2016. When completed in 2020, the KKH-II highway will consist of eight traffic lanes, passing over bridges and through multiple tunnels. Pakistan predicts the corridor project will create over 700,000 jobs by 2030, adding up to 2.5 percentage points to the country’s annual economic growth.
Ensuring the project stays on course, China Road and Bridge Engineering – the company responsible for carrying out the work – is mobilizing a fleet of 52 machines from Volvo Construction Equipment, comprising EC220D and EC300DL crawler excavators, which will operate a single daily shift of 10 hours. These machines will work alongside a team of 1,000 employees.
When deciding on the right machines for the job, Jie Huang, Deputy General Manager of Materials and Equipment at China Road and Bridge Engineering looked to Volvo CE as a strong candidate. “The quality, safety, and fuel-efficiency of Volvo machines are their defining features and, as such, I will definitely recommend them to other developers,” he says.
The EC300DL excavators will be used for digging up and spoil removal duties. With a breakout force of 205 kN (46,086 lbf) and tearout force of 166 kN (37,318 lbf), the 30 tonne excavator is the ultimate digging machine, making it the best partner for the project. Fitted with a Volvo D7 engine, the excavator delivers max power of 169 kW (228 hp), helping to complete the project on time.
Joining the largest machines in China Road and Bridge Engineering’s Volvo fleet are the 20 tonne EC220D crawler excavators. Ideal for general earthmoving applications, the EC220D excavators deliver high torque at low engine speeds for optimum performance and fuel efficiency. The EC220D is equipped with a Volvo D6 engine, which, similar to the D7, is emissions-compliant and fuel-efficient, and boasts an impressive 123 kW (165 hp) of gross power. And, with superior visibility and operator comfort, the EC220D features increased hydraulic flow for responsive, accurate control in grading operations.
All equipment is fitted with protected components, including the extreme heavy-duty boom and arm, strong frame structure and heavy-duty plate. The well-balanced excavators also feature a wide track gauge, long track length, X-shaped undercarriage and optimized counterweight, for solid stability.
In addition to the earthmoving duties, the excavator fleet has also been supplied with Volvo hydraulic breakers, providing consistent power, durability and rock-breaking process to bring the One Belt, One Road initiative closer to fruition. The hydraulic breakers deliver every strike with the same optimal power as the last for maximum impact and durability. A cushion damper reduces noise and vibration through the machine for greater operator comfort and safety, and less stress to the boom and arm.
The delivery of the machines to Pakistan and on such a prestigious project is an important step in Volvo CE’s own Asian development. The units were supplied by Beijing Harmony Resources Mechanical Equipment, which has a strong reputation for providing timely delivery and 24-hour support.
“The dedicated on-site aftersales support offered for the machines was another key factor in our decision to go with Volvo,” says Huang. “On a project like this, high uptime is essential.”
With more infrastructure developments on the horizon, Volvo machines can expect to make their mark on Eurasia in the years to come.
Picture 1: The fleet of Volvo excavators are ready to work.
Picture 2: The Volvo fleet will work along the 102 km (74.5 mi) section of the KKH-II, spanning the cities of Thakot and Havelian in northern Pakistan.