The global tunnel boring machine market size was worth USD 5,995 million in 2021. It is estimated to reach USD 10,300 million by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 6.2% during the forecast period (2022–2030). Tunnel boring machines (TBM) excavate tunnels through various rocks and soils. Tunnel boring machines are primarily employed to excavate coal mines and tunnels. An increase in railway and highway infrastructure construction is predicted to boost the growth of the worldwide tunnel boring machine industry. The tunnel boring machine market is expected to rise as more machines are used for water supply and disposal, pipelines for oil and gas, and hydropower projects. TBM reduced the operational time required for construction activities compared to conventional technologies, increasing its acceptance. Furthermore, increased spending on road infrastructure and railway projects will likely drive the worldwide tunnel boring machine market forwards.
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The Surge in Traffic Infrastructure Projects to Boost Market Progress
Traffic infrastructure such as railways and highways are essential for modern-day economies. They are the building blocks for long-term economic development. Increased demand for improving transportation routes has been noticed globally, especially in developing economies. Tunneling is recommended when there is a shortage of space or land to build transport facilities in urban areas. Such tunnels offer easy and high-speed transport on strategic routes, giving rise to the demand for tunnel boring machinery. For instance, Gotthard Base Tunnel, the longest rail tunnel in the world, was excavated with Herrenknecht Gripper TBMs.
In addition, government investment in railway pipeline projects is projected to cater to the growth of the tunnel boring machine market. For instance, in July 2019, the Italian government spent USD 33.79 billion on a railway infrastructure project. Also, Switzerland signed international treaties with its neighboring countries, such as Germany and Italy, to expand tunnel routes to handle the growing traffic volume efficiently.
Increased Focus Toward Micro-Tunneling to Drive Market
Micro-tunnels are small tunnels constructed by small diameter TBM. Micro-tunneling is a substitute for open-cut method excavation, owing to low construction cost and high productivity. The size of these small tunnels may vary from 0.61 to 1.5 meters. The US and Canada are upgrading their storage capacity by building small tunnels, owing to water and wastewater systems utility shortages. Canada completed the Gore Road project, a small tunnel for sanitary sewer pipe with micro tunneling TBM developed by Ward and Burke Construction Ltd.
Furthermore, China and Japan developed micro-tunneling technology for minimal surface disruption while excavating for pipeline routings under a river, roadway, or railway line. Mexico built Tunnel Emisor Oriente, a 62 km underground wastewater treatment tunnel utilizing earth pressure balanced (EPB) tunnel boring machines (TBMs) supplied by Herrenknecht and Robbins. Such micro-tunneling projects fuel the demand for tunnel boring machines.
High Investment Cost and Lack of Flexibility to Restrict Market Growth
A tunnel boring machine is not economically priced. Also, the cost of installation is high. In addition, once the methodology has been selected, it is practically impossible to modify it throughout the tunnel construction. The blasting method is also used for tunnel construction, which is cheap compared to tunnel boring machines. In addition, for tunnel excavation longer than 4 km, a tunnel boring machine is often recommended, while for lengths less than 1.5 km, the drill & blast technique is usually employed. Hence, such factors are anticipated to hamper the growth of the tunnel boring machine market.
Technological Advances through Automation and Rock Cutting Technology
Technological innovations in the tunnel boring machine will lead to market growth in the coming years. Automation offers high productivity, improved safety, efficient use of resources, and reduced labor cost. Water jet & diamond wire technology involves using high-pressure waterjets and diamond wire cutting for rock excavation.
Similarly, ZigBee-based wireless sensor networks are also used for data communication for tunneling operations. Real-time data is acquired and processed to aid project managers and TBM operators. For instance, in April 2019, the Master Drilling Company offered a mobile tunnel boring machine for Northam Platinum. This tunnel boring machine uses a wireless sensor network in the mining industry. This tunnel boring machine has a cutter head capacity of 17" disc cutters. This tunnel boring machine has a diameter capacity of 5.5 meters.
The global tunnel boring machine market is segmented by machine type, geology type, end-user, and region.
Based on machine type, the global market is categorized into Slurry TBM, Shielded TBM, Multi-Mode TBM, Earth Pressure Balance Shield TBM, and Others. Others include open type, gripper TBM, partial face excavation, and direct pipe.
The Slurry TBM segment is the highest contributor to the market and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 5.9% during the forecast period. An increase in tunnel construction activities, increasing the demand for tunnel boring machines, is projected to propel market growth. Major players are offering slurry tunnel boring machines for road construction and railway pipeline projects, which fuels the market growth. The market for slurry TBM machines is expected to grow during the forecast period owing to an increase in traffic and utility projects across the globe. All such instances are projected to drive the growth of the market.
The Earth Pressure Balance Shield TBM segment is the fastest growing. EPBMs are increasingly adopted in the construction of rail tunnels, metro & transit projects, highways, and other such road tunnels and other projects due to a high level of work safety and stable operation under different geological conditions. Moreover, India's Mumbai metro has recently been installed with Robbins's Crossover XRE, combining the features of single shield TBM and EPBS TBM. In London, around eight Herrenknecht TBM are generating a continuous railway line through the megacity, which is projected to boost the market growth. Major players are adopting a joint venture as a key development strategy for adopting a tunnel boring machine, thereby providing lucrative opportunities for market growth.
Based on geology type, the global market is classified Into Soft Ground, Hard Rock Ground, Heterogeneous Ground, and Uneven Ground.
The Heterogeneous Ground segment is the highest contributor to the market and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 5.3% during the forecast period. The heterogeneous ground surfaces are created in areas with a rise in glaciation, which reshapes the terrain. Such tunnels are found increasingly in the Switzerland tunnel regions with a combination of rock sections and heterogenous lost ground. Moreover, major players such as Herrenknecht AG, CREG TBM Germany GmbH, and others offer tunnel boring machines for tunnel projects. Furthermore, an increase in tunneling project construction around the globe is anticipated to create lucrative opportunities for market growth.
The Soft Ground segment is the fastest growing. The earth pressure balance shield boring machine and slurry type tunnel boring machine is mainly used in soft ground geology type. Soft ground TBM innovations focus on extending the ability of the devices to stabilize the face and avoid surface settlements even in the most crucial soils and situations. Major players are offering slurry-type tunnel boring machines for soft ground geology. Furthermore, the government of the UAE planned to invest in new railway projects, which are anticipated to create opportunities for the market's growth.
Based on end-user, the global market is divided into Road Transport, Metro & Transit, Utilities, Mining, Railway Transport, Oil & Gas, and Others.
The Metro & Transit segment is the highest contributor to the market and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 7.1% during the forecast period. An increase in metro transport projects fuels the tunnel boring machine market demand. Moreover, major metro pipeline companies spending on infrastructure projects is projected to drive market growth. Nowadays, metro tunneling projects are managed by SAAS services to speed up project completion as more urban areas are demanding metro services. The high-speed underground public transport system in terms of hyperloops and automated pods is expected to be deployed in the future. This is projected to drive the growth of the tunnel boring machine market.
The Road Transport segment is the second largest. An increase in road construction projects around the globe is a factor that drives the growth of the tunnel boring machine market. Demand for tunnel boring machines for road infrastructure projects is projected to drive market development. Furthermore, an increase in road construction projects around the globe is anticipated to create opportunities for developing the tunnel boring machine market.
Region-wise, the global tunnel boring machine market analysis is conducted across North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
Why is the Asia Pacific Projected to be the Most Lucrative Market During the Assessment Period?
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Asia-Pacific is the highest revenue contributor and is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 6.7% during the forecast period. Countries such as China, India, and others, are taking several initiatives to promote large-scale tunneling projects for railways and highways in the region, owing to the rise in population, rapid urbanization, and strong economic growth. Such factors fuel the growth of the tunnel machine boring market. Moreover, a significant number of ongoing developments of metro projects in India are anticipated to fuel the demand for tunnel boring machines soon. For instance, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) has deployed tunnel boring machines for the 33.5 Metro III corridor project. The tunnel boring machine was purchased from the manufacturing facility of Herrenknecht AG in China.
Furthermore, many manufacturers in the Asia-Pacific region are focusing on developing advanced tunnel boring machines to propel the growth of the market in the area. For instance, CCCC Tianhe Mechanical Equipment Manufacturing Co., a Chinese tunnel boring machine manufacturer, has developed China's giant slurry tunnel boring machine with a diameter of 13.1 meters for a high-speed rail project in Indonesia. Similarly, TERRATEC, an Australian manufacturer of tunnel boring machines, developed two new earth pressure balance shield machines (EPBMs) with 6.56 meters diameter for Halkali-Yeni Havalimani Metro J.V. at Istanbul's new airport metro line.
The European tunnel boring machine market is projected to reach USD 2,410 million by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 6%. Numerous prominent players in the region are offering tunnel boring machines for efficient and reliable operations owing to economic growth and multiple investments in infrastructure projects in Europe. For instance, Herrenknecht AG, a German manufacturer of TBM, developed the largest TBM, with a diameter of 52 feet, which was used to construct the 4.6-mile di Valico tunnel in Italy.
Similarly, NFM Technologies, Ferrovial Agroman, Laing O'Rourke, Herrenknecht AG, and Lovat developed six TBMs to build the 12.6km Thames Tideway Tunnel. Furthermore, an increase in road infrastructure projects and railway pipeline projects in the Eastern Europe region drives the growth of the tunnel boring machine market. Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria, Poland, and others are expected to witness increased construction spending on transport infrastructure, thus positively impacting the demand for TBMs.
North America is the third largest region. The surge in road construction activities increases the number of tunneling activities across the globe, which fuels the growth of the tunnel boring machine market. For instance, in June 2017, the Indiana government authority started constructing nearly a 5-mile tunnel to reduce the sewer overflow into area waterways. The purpose of this tunnel was to transport sewage from the sewer system to the sewage treatment plant. Herrenknecht Tunnelling Systems USA Inc develops the tunnel boring machine deployed for excavation.
Moreover, there are many ongoing tunnel projects in the US for building highways, railways, and water management systems. For instance, the tunnel boring machine is installed for significant tunnel projects such as Seattle's S.R. 99, Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, and Thimble Shoals tunnel in the US. Furthermore, the rise in construction of micro tunneling in Canada majorly drives the growth of the small-diameter double shield TBMs and direct pipe TBM market.