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CONSTRUCTION industry players looking to ramp up their efficiency are turning to advanced technologies that allow them to explore all aspects of a project virtually before starting physical work.
Known as Virtual Design and Construction (VDC), the process effectively allows construction to occur twice - first in the virtual environment like a full-dress rehearsal, before the actual on-site construction.
VDC leverages Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology that can model everything from graphics, drawings and reports to design analysis, schedules and facilities management. This helps reveal problems before actual work begins and allows building teams to make better-informed decisions as well as foster greater collaboration among team members.
In addition, BIM technology also supports the Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA) approach that involves designing for labour-efficient construction, with as much work as possible done off-site.
BIM will be one of several groundbreaking technologies and processes to be featured at this year's Singapore Construction Productivity Week (SCPW). These will be showcased at BuildTech Asia 2015, the regional trade show for the built environment sector that takes place in conjunction with SCPW.
Hosted by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), SCPW 2015 aims to facilitate discussions to fundamentally change the way local companies build and improve collaboration in the construction value chain, so as to reduce the built environment sector's reliance on foreign workers.
BCA will also be organising the third International Panel of Experts (IPE) meeting on BIM during SCPW. The meeting will involve prominent overseas and local industry professionals who will share their insights to drive productivity and build capability in Singapore's built environment sector through the use of BIM.
"Moving forward, to achieve a quantum leap in productivity improvement, we need to change our mindset to focus on designing for labour-efficient construction and move as much construction work off-site as possible," said BCA chief executive officer John Keung.
To help in this effort, BCA is setting aside an additional S$450 million of funding to support firms that adopt impactful construction technologies and to train and upgrade their workers to keep updated with technological advancements.
The authority is also establishing an eco-system for DfMA and developing new training courses to help drive adoption of this technology by the industry, Dr Keung revealed.
SCPW 2015 comes on the heels of the industry's 2nd Construction Productivity Roadmap that was unveiled earlier this year. This industry plan aims to drive the sector towards achieving more aggressive productivity gains over the next five years to meet the national productivity target of an average 2-3 per cent improvement annually from 2011 to 2020.
According to BCA, this would require a strong productivity mindset among key stakeholders in the entire value chain to design and construct buildings with less manpower. Among other goals, the roadmap aims to develop a higher-quality workforce, drive adoption of DfMA, and enhance collaboration among the various stakeholders through VDC.
A showcase of innovation
Global expenditure in smart building technology is expected to grow to US$17.4 billion by 2019 and the Asia Pacific region is among the most aggressive adopters of such smart building and construction technology.
Faced with higher quality standards, industry players are looking for innovative ways to refresh building processes and harness the latest technologies to improve efficiency and productivity as they navigate towards smart construction technologies and methodologies.
BuildTech Asia 2015 will seek to help companies in this effort by showcasing leading-edge technologies and innovations that are reshaping the future of the sector. A key highlight during SCPW, the three-day event will feature 150 leading companies and industry associations from more than 10 countries and regions including China, Germany, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and the United States.
These players will present a range of products, technologies and industry insights across the building and construction value chain, from heavy machinery and engineering equipment to software and management solutions.
"Rapid strides in technological advancements have put the industry on the cusp of change. BuildTech Asia brings together the latest technological breakthroughs and industry insights from the world's leading experts in the areas of building processes, raw materials and new materials," said Chua Wee Phong, chairman of Sphere Exhibits, organiser of BuildTech Asia.
This year's event will focus on seven technologies and processes that will foster construction productivity. These include BIM; Construction IT; Prefabricated Structural Systems; Prefabricated Architectural Systems; Prefabricated Mechanical and Electrical (M&E) Systems; Smart Materials; and Smart Construction.
A new segment focusing on building technologies with leading companies such as Boral Plasterboard, DuckShin Housing Company, NewForma Asia Pacific, and ST Building Systems will also be introduced.
A one-day conference focused on safety will be held concurrently with BuildTech Asia 2015 and aims to provide a platform for stakeholders from the construction industry to network and learn about the latest trends and developments.
Themed Zero in on Safety, the Workplace Health & Safety Conference is expected to bring together more than 200 delegations from across the region and will highlight the importance of managing both health and safety risks in the workplace.
Other highlights of SCPW 2015 include the Build Smart Conference, a two-day conference where prominent local and international speakers will share construction productivity trends and modern technologies and processes, and the Skilled Builders Project featuring the construction of a Cross Laminated Timber and Glue-Laminated Timber structural module.