By offering a superior service to that of its Chinese rivals, Hitachi aims to achieve consistent annual TBM sales of up to US$95m as opposed to those of recent years, some of which have seen annual sales dip to US$48m, reported Nikkei Asia. The move comes from increased shareholder pressure on the company due to declining home sales and anticipated higher infrastructural demand in Southeast Asia.

The company aims to achieve its aims during these difficult times by offering overseas clients the full armoury of high-tech solutions, such as AI and augmented reality glasses. Hitachi engineers in Japan could thereby provide virtual hands-on help via livestreaming to operatives abroad. This would provide a quick response to site problems and help bypass the international travel difficulties associated with Covid-19. Hitachi also aims to lower production costs through volume sales of the same machines for long tunnels under package contracts. This will be helped by standardising components to allow machine re-use rather than scrapping after projects end.

Hitachi’s intentions can be seen in the light of a stalling domestic – and soon expected to be contracting – TBM market due to lower demand for new subway lines as Japan’s population shrinks. This is exacerbated by the end of the construction boom generated by the as yet to take place Tokyo Olympic Games. In contrast, Southeast Asia is expected to require hundreds of TBMs in the next decade to construct around 2,000km of tunnels, mainly metro lines to alleviate urban traffic problems.