New technology such as prefab technology has given an opportunity to the large construction firms. Contrarily, small and middle sized constructions firms are continuing to use the old technology. According to the news reported by The Straits Times, many large construction firms are already using prefab technology where as many small and medium-sized enterprises show resistant to embrace new technology.
“The traditional construction medium is struggling with numerous complications,” says Teambuild executive director Johnny Lim. “We were aware that knew that the Government’s intention was geared at productivity in the work, where as levy for foreign worker was rising. With prefab technology, we saw an opportunity.” Interestingly, Teambuild is one of the first users of prefab technology.
Teambuild ran a simulation project in 2013 on few residential projects. The outcome of simulations showed noteworthy savings in manpower and construction time. In comparison to conventional methods, the cost of prefab technology was about 20 percent higher, however, the higher cost was compensated by saving in time and manpower.
Now, that the prefab technology has matured, the construction cost has decreased by 10 percent. “The challenges set by new technologies demands careful planning,” says Chiang Kian Hong, the project director, Tiong Seng.
Teambuild and Tiong Seng are trend setters in prefab technology. In 2013, in order to build smaller prefabricated components, Teambuild set up a wholly owned subsidiary. Likewise, Tiong Seng started building PPVC (prefabricated pre-finished volumetric construction) in 2014.
In the meantime, small contractors are still working with the old-traditional way. One of the primary reasons for working old fashion way is they don’t have financial prowess to build on prefab modules.
“We are still analyzing PPVC anmd estimating the cost involved in using this technology,” said GA Construction general manager Joseph Liew. “Our main concern regarding prefab technology is when we put money in prefab technology and hardware, will we be able to use it for our projects? Will this become a white elephant for us?”
Interestingly, the construction firms will lose money on contract fees if they have to depend on external fabricators. “What are we to do except hoisting and assembling, when most of the work will be done by precasters,” lamented Gwee Sung, Chong Tong Construction director.
According to Liew and Gwee, for small construction firms PPVC technology is very expensive, it will cost them about 20 percent more.
GA Construction has spent around S$20,000 on hardware to build a virtual design system building information modelling (BIM). The project that was started earlier this year and the firm has not still implemented this.
“It has not been implemented yet because it needs changed mindset as well as six figure investment to adopt BIM completely,” said Liew. “Implementation also involves Conversion also requires us to reduce our manpower size and introduce training programs.”
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