Norwegian Company Bridging Asia

Most Norwegians in Southeast Asia may never have heard of NRS. However, chances are that they have crossed bridges built with equipment made by this Norwegian company.
      NRS (Norwegian Rail System) started up its activities in Honefoss, Norway in 1983 by Jahn Nitschke. Today, NRS is one of the world’s leading suppliers of bridge construction equipment.
      In April 1997, NRS A/S in Norway decided to open a regional office for Asia. The question was only: “Which country?”
      “We had at that time been involved in the construction of the LRT line in Kuala Lumpur and had during the project established some good contacts in Malaysia,” says Jahn Nitschke.
      “From an infrastructure point of view, Malaysia is quite optimal as an Asian hub,” Nitschke adds.
      So, Malaysia it was – a choice Jan Nitschke has not regretted. Today, NRS-Asia employs 15 people and some of its products are now designed in Malaysia.
      Despite several warnings, Jan Nitschke early on also made another decision he has not regretted: He focused on China.
      “In 1997, few doubted that China would become the great economic power of the next millennium, but its rapid growth had left the country crying out for new roads to cater for a big increase in traffic. New roads usually include some new bridges as well,” Jan Nitschke explains.
      When NRS established the first contact and co-operation in China in 1998, the Chinese way of designing bridges was, however, different from elsewhere in the world.
      “We therefore had to tell the bridge designers what bridges look like outside China. And I must say we have been very successful,” Jahn Nitschke says.
      Today, China is the biggest market for NRS and the office in Beijing employs 9 people.
      “Our company is involved in all the biggest bridge projects in China today. These projects include the Dong Hai Bridge near Shanghai, a bridge with a total length of approximately 30 kilometers,” says Nitschke.
      NRS is also of the main suppliers of equipment for the construction of the new bridge across the Hangzhou Bay. This bridge has a total length of approx. 40 km.
      The third ongoing and really outstanding bridge project is the Sutong Bridge across the Yangtze River, near a town called Nantong, approx. 3 hours’ drive north of Shanghai.
      The Sutong Bridge, after completion, will hold several world records. The main bridge which is cable stayed, will have a world record span of 1,088 meter. The piers or the pylons will also be the tallest in the world.
      “All these projects are internationally famous and well recognized, so our strong involvement has a big global marketing value,” Nitschke says.
      The world market for conventional bridges is decreasing, but the market for elevated roads and railway lines are increasing.
      “China is a promising land, if you are a supplier of railway equipment. The next 4 years they plan to build 9 new railway lines, with a total length of 3,000 kilometers. Estimated investment is approximately USD 38 billion. In order to cope with all these big projects, we have had to increase our design capacity.”
      Elsewhere in Asia, NRS also has ongoing projects in Malaysia, Korea, and Vietnam.
      “In addition to our design office in Malaysia, we have had a close co-operation and good help from another Norwegian company in this region, Norconsult Engineering (NCE) in Bangkok,” Nitschke explains.
      “Due to the amount of work and some other factors, we decided last year to establish our own design company in Bangkok.”
      In July last year, NRS Consulting Co Ltd was registered, and except for MD Martin Bae from Norway, the other employees are all Thai. Today, 14 people are in full swing with different project in NRS Consulting.
      NRS Consulting is sharing office with NCE on the 30th floor of the RS Tower, with a good view of Bangkok many bridges and elevated highways.

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