S’pore builders to study lessons gleaned from London visit

Pek Lian Guan, chief executive officer (CEO) of Tiong Seng Holdings.

SINGAPORE - Build an entire building in sections offsite, then move it in piece by piece. Or use special timber instead of concrete, to cut the time and manpower needed.

Members of 24 local firms and public organisations in Singapore's building industry got a chance to examine these productivity-raising methods in a trade visit to London three weeks ago.

The innovative construction systems can also reduce dust and noise pollution at construction sites, as more work is done in factories off-site.

British Petroleum's international headquarters in London, for example, was built module by module off-site. All 99 of these sections were then brought on site and put together.

The week-long trip also included a visit to an eight-storey residential block which was built in nine weeks using cross-laminated timber, instead of the usual 12 weeks if concrete was used. The construction needed only four workers and one supervisor to be present at any one time.

The trip was organised by the Construction Productivity Steering Committee, which is chaired by Senior Minister of State for National Development and Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan.

In a press statement, Mr Lee promised that the public sector, which is Singapore's biggest developer, will continue supporting new construction technology here.

But cost might stand in the way of more adopting these methods here.

In Singapore, unlike in Britain, the price of structural steel and cross-laminated timber - which is made by bonding layers of timber at right angles - is higher than concrete.

Tiong Seng Contractors' managing director Pek Lian Guan, one of 39 people who went on the trip, said: "We will have to go into more detail, understand and address the challenges if we are to use these technologies locally."

charyong@sph.com.sg


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