Chinese dredger contributes to high-quality construction of Belt and Road

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Chinese dredger Tian Kun Hao (right) works near a port of Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). (Photo by Ren Haoyu/People's Daily)
Chinese dredger Tian Kun Hao (right) works near a port of Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). (Photo by Ren Haoyu/People's Daily)

By Guan Kejiang, Ren Haoyu

Tian Kun Hao, the largest cutter-suction dredger in Asia, is now working in a port in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for a dredging and reclamation project of the Hudayriyat Island, which is joined by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).

The project, expected to be completed in the first half of 2023, includes building an artificial mountain on the island, which, upon completion, will contribute to the local real estate and tourism sectors.

According to Xue Hongsheng, chief officer of the vessel, Tian Kun Hao comes with an integrated intelligent control system independently developed by China, which realizes unmanned automatic dredging.

Currently, the vessel is working in a complicated geological environment where sandstones make up the majority of the geological structure, so the operators must switch between the automatic and manual modes according to the real situation so as to achieve the highest dredging efficiency, Xue said.

Gao Jianwei, who’s in charge of the dredging work on the vessel, told People’s Daily that the dredge cutter teeth of Tian Kun Hao are changed every 10 hours of working as they are worn fast.

“Efficiency is important in dredging because we want to maximize the performance of machines. Therefore our workers are skilled and they can change dredge cutter teeth very fast,” Gao said.

Every dredge cutter tooth weighs 37.5 kilograms, and it takes workers on the vessel less than 30 minutes to change 15 teeth.

Tian Kun Hao is equipped with four types of dredge cutter teeth and is able to cut rocks with uniaxial compressive strength of less than 50 MPa. It is learned that the teeth on the vessel have a maximum power of 6,600 kW, which makes the ship dredge 6,000 cubic meters per hour.

Mud pumps are one of the core pieces of equipment on Tian Kun Hao. The total power of mud pump motors on the vessel adds up to 17,000 kW, and the ship is able to pump dredged material as far as 15 kilometers away.

Wang Zhijun, chief engineer on the vessel, told People’s Daily that inspection for mud pumps is important for maintaining the operation of Tian Kun Hao. “An inspection tour is the first mission of engine officers after every shift begins,” he added.

Wang introduced that on an inspection tour, engine officers would listen to noises, check parameters and oil leaks, smell whether there’re unpleasant odors, and feel the temperature and vibration of mud pumps. Sometimes they also launch inspections for relevant devices based on the data obtained by the intelligent control system.

For Tian Kun Hao, which works 24 hours a day, the maintenance of electromechanical and power equipment is of vital importance.

After an inspection tour, engine officers on duty would go back to a control room that faces the engine of the vessel, where engine power, the status of the hydraulic system, and other information are shown on the intelligent control system. This helps them better protect the “heart” of the gigantic dredger.

On the vessel, a work summary meeting is held every week, during which captain Wang Chunmin summarizes the work and different crews introduce their work plans. Besides, work reviews, training courses, production safety education, and other activities are also frequently held on Tian Kun Hao.

Huo Zongjie, a representative onboard from CCCC Tianjin Dredging Co., Ltd. which built Tian Kun Hao, said the weekly work summary meeting is an institutional platform that promotes exchanges and helps solve problems during work.

Huo noted that this is the first arrival of the Chinese dredger in the Middle East this time, where it is competing with its peers from the Netherlands and Belgium. “We are confident in demonstrating a good image of Chinese enterprises,” he said.

Environmental health and safety manager Amir Mahmoud of the dredging and reclamation project of the Hudayriyat Island has been working in the Middle East for over 10 years and visited dredgers manufactured by multiple companies.
“The size of and standard operation on Tian Kun Hao just shocked me when I first got onto it,” he said.

Mohammed Saleh, director of the project from the UAE’s National Marine Dredging Company told People’s Daily that Tian Kun Hao has its own features when compared with the latest European dredgers.

He hailed the China-developed automatic dredging system of the vessel, which shows plain information and data and is easy to operate. He also spoke highly of the clean environment and the competence of the staff members on the dredger.

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