Big players still unwilling to accept new technologies

Keshia Faculin30 Oct 2017

Construction site with crane and building in city

Despite their desire to make a change in the construction industry, mid-sized contractors face various obstacles in adopting new technologies, reported Channel News Asia.

This comes as some of the big players still prefer traditional construction methods over new building technologies, said Kang Choon Boon, managing director at B19 Technologies – one of the first firms in Singapore to use Mass-Engineered Timber (MET), a kind of building material where solid wooden pieces are cut and made in factories, to be assembled on-site.

The timber product was used to build The Wave, a new sports hall at Nanyang Technological University.

Kang believes that while the use of MET would raise construction cost by 20 percent, the cost would drop once more companies embrace the material since there would be economies of scale. Other benefits include shorter construction time, manpower savings and a much greener product.

B19, however, used the method to a handful of projects only.

“We depend very much on the developer and the client on what their requirements are,” said Kang.

Agreeing, Peh Ke-Pin, director at mid-sized company PQ Builder, said: “We are not the decision maker…It’s a top-down approach.”

Peh noted that while their company had spent nearly $1.5 million on research and construction technology and availed of government grants to fund their purchases, they remain limited by their size.

Maintaining the equipment has also proved to be an issue for firms such as his, given that they are often tight on cash.

“Some projects may use (a particular) equipment, but after the project’s (done), the equipment may not be applicable to other projects,” explained Peh. “It needs someplace to sit, so the storage cost will also be (an) issue.”

In responding to the needs of small and mid-sized companies, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has revealed plans to explore a model where companies could lease their mid-range equipment.


This article was edited by Keshia Faculin.


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