Construction firms invest in noise-reduction equipment, leading to raised productivity

SINGAPORE - Construction companies here have invested in quieter construction equipment since the launch of a $10 million fund last year, which helped to defray their high costs.

More than 50 construction firms have applied for the National Environment Agency's (NEA) Quieter Construction Fund (QCF) since its launch in April last year.

A total of more than $400,000 has been disbursed to 14 companies so far.

The fund defrays up to 50 per cent of the purchasing cost or the lease of noise-reducing hardware.

NEA revealed that complaints and public feedback on construction noise have been on the rise - from 14,900 in 2010 to 19,800 in 2012, due to growth in construction projects. The number fell to 16,600 in 2013, and went down further to 16,000 last year.

Noise-reduction equipment has also helped companies raise their productivity.

"We are able to carry out our operations very smoothly without the authorities stopping us," said Mr David Liaw, managing director of construction firm Guan Chuan.

Work is disrupted when a complaint about noise is lodged, as the authorities would have to investigate.

Mr Liaw added: "Quieter construction technology is a very costly investment and the fund allows us to explore more options for noise reduction on site."

The company, which specialises in silent piling, received $50,000 from NEA to purchase a new machine.

At construction firm HSL Ground Engineering, investing in quieter options for piling has not only led to noise reduction - the firm also saved 20 per cent on cost and upped productivity by 50 per cent.

"The traditional method of piling which requires the use of a hydraulic breaker is noisy, labour intensive and slower," said executive director Chris Teo.

HSL received $15,000 from the QCF last year to purchase crack inducers, which allow them to lift excess cement from piles instead of hacking it away with an excavator, which is noisier.