China’s 640-ton “iron monster” could build colossal bridges in a matter of days

With the launch of the One Belt, One Road initiative in 2013, China has proven to be a successor to the Silk Road tradition. The project includes land and sea routes that connect about 70 countries, approximately two-thirds of the world.

What allowed China to initiate and implement this project are the developed construction machines, which not only accelerate the construction process, but lead to cost and resource efficiency. The SLJ900 / 32, locally known as the Iron Monster, is a step forward in bridge construction that lifts, transports and places full-length prefabricated and rail sections at a loaded speed of 3.1 mph (5 km / h) without leaves room for the lengthy on-site assembly process.

More than 2,000 years ago, the Han dynasty created the Silk Road, a network of land and sea routes that built a bridge between east and west, making China a geoeconomic center. Inspired by the Silk Road, The People’s Republic of China has launched the One Belt, One Road initiative to connect Asia, Africa and Europe. The Silk Road Economic Belt, the project’s land routes, connects East Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, Russia and Europe, while the Maritime Silk Road connects the coast of China with Europe.

As the need for more land and sea routes to complete the “One Belt, One Road” project. increased, there was a demand for more progressive machines to increase the pace of this large-scale project. Therefore, the Iron Monster, along with other machines, was invented to fulfill the goal of connecting three continents in a sea and land network.

Although critics say the project imposes Chinese debts on the poorer countries that determine China’s world order, these inventions are still of great importance in civil engineering. Designed by Shijiazhuang Railway Institute and manufactured by The Beijing Joint Machinery Company, SLJ900 / 32 builds long bridges with many sections with noticeable speed.

One of the real examples of the SLJ900 / 32 is the longest road-rail steel arch bridge in the world: Railway bridge over the river Ibin Jinsha. Before Yibin Jinsha, the journey between Sichuan and Guizhou provinces in China took 12 hours, but now the expected travel time has dropped to three hours. Another example, which is one of several high-speed rail projects, is the one that connects Inner Mongolia and the rest of the country as part of China’s vision for a high-speed 18,641.1-mile (30,000 km) railway.

The bridge packing machine moves through its 64 fully rotating wheels, divided into 4 blocks. The construction process begins when it carries the beams all the way from the very edge of the bridge to the point of installation, where it will be connected to a predetermined pole. Then, with the help of a pneumatic construction, the machine is moored to the first pillar to expand to the second, anchoring to it, and to place the beam. The SLJ900 / 32 then continues the same steps with the new segment in towing.

Requiring much less human resources than bridge structures used with a crane, the Iron Monster still requires a crew to neglect the entire process, except for cleaning and maintenance of its various parts. The work of the crew begins when the machine sets the segment and the whole procedure is repeated until the completion of the bridge.

The machine has proven to be effective, especially in larger construction projects, including Belt and Road, due to the economical use of human resources, the elimination of expensive scaffolding costs and the increased pace of project implementation. In addition, its weight of 640 tons (580 tons) requires the bridges to withstand more than the maximum load, which is considered an unexpected added value and leads to greater safety for the bridges built with this machine.

Unfortunately, the money and technology used to build these machines have to be repeated every four years, as their life allows them to lay about 700 to 1,000 sections of the bridge – the distance between two intermediate bridge supports – which provides them. durability of approximately four years.

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