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Innovative tech for the construction sector on show at BuildTech Asia 2018

CAN robots build cities? Increasingly so, it appears.

Singapore-based Japanese construction firm Kajima uses its “Mighty Hand” robot to lift heavy elements such as concrete and glass to assemble walls in Japan, under human supervision.

South Korean company Roboprint, which has a subsidiary in Singapore, makes robots that can paint the walls of high-rise buildings, making it safer for workers.

Such innovative technologies in the building and construction sector were showcased on Monday at the eighth edition of BuildTech Asia. The trade exhibition, which is being held from Oct 22 to 24 at the Singapore Expo, drew a record 10,000 local and overseas visitors on its first day.

Organised by Sphere Exhibits and supported by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), BuildTech Asia 2018 involved over 200 brands from 14 countries exhibiting the latest in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, drones, smart solutions and other productive technologies.

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This is in addition to staple exhibits such as onsite construction machinery and equipment, building material and architectural solutions, quality finishes and facilities management.

Hugh Lim, chief executive officer of BCA, said: “BuildTech Asia offers firms in our built environment sector a common space to find opportunities for collaboration and leverage each other’s expertise and innovations for business growth. This is especially important as we continue to drive the adoption of advanced construction methods like Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA).”

The Singapore Contractors Association Ltd (SCAL) organised the Build Environment Summit, one of the three co-located conferences held in conjunction with BuildTech Asia.

In his opening address for the summit on Monday, SCAL president Kenneth Loo dispelled the perception that the sector’s Industry Transformation Map (ITM) is “confined only to big firms that have strong internal capabilities and financial muscle”.

A recent survey by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) showed that less than half of the construction firms surveyed have heard of the ITM. Among those who are aware, more than 60 per cent are unsure about how they can benefit from it.

“But SMEs are an important part of the ecosystem of the construction industry, with many acting as subcontractors, suppliers or service providers,” said Mr Loo. “Just as a convoy is as fast as the slowest ship, it is important therefore that we bring our SMEs on board in order to achieve the transformation under the ITM.”

SCAL will work with BCA on specific programmes to reach out to these companies.

One such activity is the productivity clinics that the organisation has been running with BCA over the past seven to eight years. SCAL will revamp these sessions to be better tailored to SME needs, and open them up to all SMEs, not just its members, said Mr Loo.

Sphere Exhibits is a subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), which owns The Business Times.

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