Friday 27 January 2012

Khaw Boon Wan on raising construction productivity

Channel NewsAsia, 26 Jan 2012

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the local construction industry needs to raise productivity through standardisation and prefabrication.

In his latest blog entry, he said Singapore can try to build more flats with fewer foreign workers, if construction productivity is raised.

Singapore is adding another 25,000 public flats this year through the Build-to-Order scheme, and needs some 30,000 foreign construction workers to meet its building programme.

Mr Khaw said prefabrication technology is now indispensable in HDB's building programme.

Seventy per cent of public housing building components such as walls, floors and toilets are now precast.

These parts are fabricated off-site and then transported to the construction site for assembly.

But Mr Khaw added that at the next stage of development, prefab plants themselves also need to be transformed to up their own productivity.

He cited local company, Tiong Seng Contractors, as an example of how companies can raise their productivity by implementing the Construction Productivity Roadmap.

Tiong Seng has set up Singapore's first computerised and semi-automated multi-storey precast plant at Tuas, with some funding support from the Building & Construction Authority.

Known as Integrated Construction and Precast Hubs, these plants optimise land use and achieve higher productivity through automated production processes. 

Tiong Seng's precast plant only needs a third of the workers to produce almost double the tonnage of precast components.

An existing plant would need 150 workers to produce 60,000 cubic metres of precast components, while a new integrated construction and precast hub only requires 50 workers to churn out 100,000 cubic metres of precast parts.

Mr Khaw said BCA will make more land available for such integrated construction and precast hubs in its masterplan.

He hopes more contractors will come forward to participate in implementing the Construction Productivity Roadmap to transform Singapore's construction industry and raise its productivity.

This, he says will help Singapore cut down on its reliance on foreign construction workers.

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