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BCA banks on 'live' demonstration projects in push to get Singapore building sector to go digital

A PLAN has been launched to encourage the building industry to go digital, by providing it with training, digital platforms and "live" demonstration projects.

The aim is to have, by 2020, 40 to 60 construction sites that implement Integrated Digital Delivery (IDD) technologies that cut out laborious paper-based processes and allow designers, builders and facility managers to communicate with one another digitally.

The first 12 demonstration projects using such technologies have already been identified, such as the upcoming JTC Logistics Hub in Benoi Road, the Punggol Town Hub and Sloane Residences in Balmoral Road.

"These 12 projects are 'live' demonstrations to show how project stakeholders can reap the benefits of IDD," said the Building Construction Authority (BCA), which announced the plan on Wednesday.

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Through these projects, at least 150 firms and around 300 to 400 key personnel will be able to develop various skills such as virtual collaboration, artificial intelligence and data analytics, it added.

These skills would enable the use of a wide range construction technologies, from virtual reality and imaging technology for inspecting building plans to sensors that track whether supplies arrive on time at the construction site.

A key benefit is that buildings are expected to be built in a shorter time, at a lower cost and higher quality arising from improved defect detection and inspections. Contractors who are early adopters of IDD said they had cut construction time by 35 to 39 per cent.

Said BCA chief executive Hugh Lim: "IDD offers to put all stakeholders on the same page from the start to the end of the building life cycle. It will also bring about new and better jobs for Singaporeans, allowing an integration of different disciplines such as architecture, engineering, manufacturing, facility management and info communication technology (ICT)."

In its statement, the BCA noted that IDD is heavily driven by ICT and data, and there is a wide range of application software solutions for different project parties.

There is thus a need for common solutions and standards, it added.

To this end, the BCA and the Infocomm Media Development Authority launched a S$4 million call for proposals to develop digital platforms for the construction industry.

From Nov 16 to March 15 next year, technology firms can submit proposals that allow various digital solutions, including those from third-party solution providers, to exchange data with each other through an open application programme interface.

The BCA will also help beef up digital skillsets across the building industry through courses and programmes, such as the Imperial College London-BCA Executive Development Programme that trains leadership skills in offsite pre-fabricated construction methods and IDD.

The authority's latest intiative builds on past digitalisation efforts such as the push for Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the 2010s, in which buildings are modelled digitally instead of using paper blueprints. By 2025, 70 per cent of all large construction projects should be designed virtually with BIM and use pre-fabrication technologies.

Kimly Construction, the main contractror of the JTC Logistics Hub, is an early user of IDD and has spent more than S$4 million investing in such technologies since 2010.

Kimly director Roy Khoo said IDD has allowed his firm to visualise, coordinate, communicate and build more efficiently and effectively with project partners, including suppliers and sub-contractors.

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