Construction is a tough industry.

From the hot sun, dusty environment to the demanding timelines, heated discussions and massive coordination works, construction work does not appeal to most of the young adults entering the work force. Yet, the construction industry is one of the pillar industry of the nation’s economy. How does the industry proceed into the future to continue function as a pillar industry? Or will it fade away into the dawn?

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Transformation in the Singapore Construction Industry


Over the past few years, the Singapore construction industry has been struggling. Like the construction industries in many countries around the world, the industry in Singapore was decreasing in productivity. Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat attributes this lack of production to a heavy focus on the available labor in the construction industry instead of on adopting new technologies to make the construction sector more efficient. It was decided that a change had to be made. In October of last year, Heng announced that a new Industry Transformation Map would be released for the Singaporean construction industry at the Singapore Construction Productivity Week later that month. Here are three focus areas that will be targeted with the new transformation road map:


Design for Manufacturing and Assembling (DfMa)

Those familiar with the construction industry will know that Design for Manufacturing and Assembling (DfMA) is the combination of two different process. One focuses on how easy it is to produce parts of a product, while the other focuses on the ease of assembling a product. An increased focus on DfMA will ultimately lead to improved productivity in multiple areas of the construction industry. DfMA allows for there to be an emphasis on moving work that was previously done on-site to a factory location off-site so tasks can be automated, which is called prefabricated prefinished volumetric construction (PPVC.) Conversely, it allows for a more clean and successful installation because the site isn’t cluttered.


Integrated Digital Delivery (IDD)

Building information modeling (BIM) is arguable one of the most important tasks in the construction industry. A BIM can create a 3D-based model used by architects, construction workers and engineers so that they can get a holistic view of a building. Integrated digital delivery, or IDD, can occur as a result of BIM and uses advanced smart technology to combine processes and stakeholders. Essentially, IDD allows everyone working in the industry from designers to builders work together in the building’s life-cycle. This way, all members of the construction team can observe each others’ work, stay informed, and adopt a multifaceted approach to construction.


Green Buildings

The progression of the negative effects of global warming all over the world are undeniable. If every industry doesn’t pitch in to do their part to save our planet, we soon won’t have one left. The construction industry can actually play quite a large role in reducing the rapid progression of global warming because they are typically responsible for releasing harmful chemicals and substances into the environment. In the construction industry transformation road map, it details a desire to focus on designs for green buildings and the adoption of sustainable operations and maintenance practices.


Why Change?

But what was the goal of making these changes? The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) shared that their vision was for an advanced and integrated sector, progressive and collaborative firms and better jobs for Singaporeans. Due to advances and changes in global trends, the Singaporean Construction industry needed to catch up. Some of these changes include: the digital revolution, increased urbanisation, and climate change. The digital revolution perfectly presented the Singapore construction industry with the opportunity to adapt new technological advancements and digitalised work processes to improve their productivity. Urbanisation represented the need for these improved technologies in the industry and climate change was indicative of a need for new green construction initiatives. By designing and implementing a comprehensive transformation road map, the Singapore construction industry would have the opportunity to improve not only their industry’s productivity levels, but also the lives of many Singaporeans.


Benefits of Change

When the new construction Industry Transformation Map was released, the BCA also announced that by 2025, 80,000 Singaporeans would be trained in construction technologies. At the time the announcement was made, there were just over 30,000 professionals in this industry, meaning the goal is to nearly triple this number. In general, the Singaporean construction industry struggles because many companies would rather hire inexperienced foreign workers as cheap labor instead of qualified and highly-trained construction industry professionals. The goal of the new Industry Transformation Map is to prove to those in the industry that productivity, sales, and spirits can increase just by implementing these new changes. The changes in the Singapore construction industry have allowed for not only the creation of new jobs, but also new opportunities. The major transformation is a shift from a focus on manual labor in the construction industry to that of digital design and new, innovative technologies. Instead of doing so much of the time-consuming hard labor by hand, the Singapore construction industry is now focusing on developing machines and technology that can do these jobs for them so there is more time to focus on the work and hand, which should result in improved productivity.

While it’s been sometime since the transformation road map was implemented, the response from both the public sector and those working in construction have had a positive response. The Singaporean construction industry will surely benefit from a shift in focus from manual labor to advanced technologies. It is the hopes of many in the industry that their new approach won’t allow them to just surpass their competition, but to leapfrog them. While it may take a while longer to see concrete results from the implementation of the new Industry Transformation Map, there’s no doubt that it will be successful.

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