Debate on ministries' budgets: National Development

$120m for agencies to adopt prefab methods

Govt aims to make this the default way of building to boost productivity, says Zaqy

Some $120 million will be set aside for public sector agencies to adopt design for manufacturing and assembly (DfMA) methods in projects launched by next year, as part of efforts to boost construction productivity.

The Government aims to make DfMA the default way of building, Minister of State for National Development Zaqy Mohamad told Parliament yesterday.

"We are fundamentally changing the way we build through DfMA," he said at the debate on his ministry's budget. DfMA refers to a method where parts of buildings are made in a manufacturing facility before being assembled on site.

"This way, construction becomes faster, cleaner, quieter and of high quality," he added.

The additional funding will be made available under the Public Sector Construction Productivity Fund. In tandem, the adoption target for DfMA methods will be raised to 70 per cent by 2025.

Mr Zaqy said this "ambitious" target can be achieved by working with industry players. The adoption rate was 31 per cent last year, up from 22 per cent in 2018, and "we are on track to meet our DfMA adoption target of 40 per cent this year".

Responding to Mr Ong Teng Koon (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC) on how Singapore's construction productivity compares with other countries, Mr Zaqy said site productivity has improved by more than 17 per cent in the last decade.

To boost DfMA adoption, Singapore enhanced its Buildability Framework last year, raising standards for larger residential developments and allowing outcome-based solutions to encourage building designs that can be constructed more productively. "We will further enhance the framework this year, by progressively requiring higher buildability standards for other development types, including commercial and institutional buildings," he added.

The framework will also be restructured to encourage the use of DfMA technology in the structural, architectural and mechanical, electrical and plumbing designs for buildings.

Another thrust in the sector's transformation is the use of Integrated Digital Delivery, which allows firms to digitalise various stages of building, including design, fabrication, construction.

There are now 35 public and private sector projects piloting such technology, compared with just 12 in 2018.

Mr Zaqy said the digitalisation of the construction process will facilitate wider deployment of DfMA technologies. For instance, Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology allows architects and engineers to design and build virtually, improving the accuracy of construction plans and reducing abortive works.

The Government will set aside $19 million until January 2023 to fund small and medium-sized enterprises to adopt digital solutions that complement basic BIM software. SMEs will be guided to assess their digital readiness and identify digital solutions, like site management platforms to plan and monitor construction activities, and facilities management software.

SMEs can get up to 70 per cent funding for pre-approved solutions. They can also use the digital road map on training to identify courses for employees.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2020, with the headline $120m for agencies to adopt prefab methods. Subscribe