BCA hopes developers will adopt new technologies to increase productivity

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has said the output productivity for building projects in the construction industry has risen by 1 to 2 per cent in the last couple of years.

But it believes more can be done and it hopes developers can adopt new technologies such as the Prefabricated, Pre-finished Volumetric Construction and Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) in their projects.

Whether it is in training their workers or adopting more efficient construction methods, the BCA said contractors have done a lot in the last few years to drive productivity growth.

But it wants to encourage other players across the entire industry to push it even higher.

John Keung, CEO of the Building and Construction Authority, said: “We think that it is really quite critical to raise further the buildability score to make sure that when the designers design buildings, architects, engineers design buildings, they bear in mind the need to make sure that it is easy to build.

“We also think that developers in both the public and private sector need to do more to drive productivity improvement for their projects.”

In this regard, the government will mandate the use of productive technologies for certain Government Land Sales sites, which will also help to minimise noise and dust at worksites.

BCA said Prefabricated, Pre-finished Volumetric Construction allows whole apartment-sized units, complete with internal fixtures, to be installed on-site.

This could boost productivity by up to 50 per cent in terms of manpower and time.

The other new technology is CLT, which can be used for the construction of walls and floors.

It is much lighter than steel and concrete and BCA said it will help to reduce costs of foundation works.

CLT could drive productivity improvement of 25 per cent to 35 per cent in terms of manpower and time savings.

Some industry players said the construction cost is around S$250 to S$300 per square foot on average right now, and the adoption of new technologies could potentially push costs up by 10 to 20 per cent during the early stages of implementation.

BCA said it will look at ways to incentivise developers to take on new technologies.

However, some developers said there may be logistics issues when transporting larger prefab components from factories located across the Causeway.

Lim Yew Soon, managing director of EL Development, said: “There would be time involved in terms of shipping the elements over, the whole infrastructure… the custom clearing process has to be assisted by the relevant authorities to make it more seamless. If the materials cannot be delivered on time due to custom clearance or the factory’s fabrication inefficiency, the pace of construction may be delayed.”

To further drive productivity, the Singapore Institute of Architects said it is in talks with BCA about implementing a national productivity quality standards and specifications for building designs.

Theodore Chan, president of the Singapore Institute of Architects, said: “Maybe we are talking about 10 types of doors, 10 types of railings that have been tried and tested, and design not by just one company but the industry as a whole, and this becomes the building blocks of our building components. So for designing a building, it is a question of calling down these components and putting it together.

“Give us 5-10 years and I think it will really take off because people will begin to see the benefits of it where everyone speaks the same language of design and component detail.

“There will be less misunderstandings, less misunderstandings mean less problems, more productivity, less legal suits going on, because we are talking about components and building features that are tried, tested and accepted.”

The institute said it has also reached out to the Housing and Development Board as part of efforts to get the industry to share information and come up with a set of national best practices.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 6 Mar 2014

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