Parliament: Construction sector to digitalise building processes to boost productivity

The Government aims to make the design for manufacturing and assembly method the default way of building. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE-Some $120 million will be set aside for public sector agencies to adopt design for manufacturing and assembly (DfMA) methods in projects launched by 2021, as part of efforts to transform the construction sector.

This comes as the Government aims to make DfMA the default way of building, said Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad in Parliament on Wednesday (March 4).

"We are fundamentally changing the way we build through DfMA," said Mr Zaqy during the debate on his ministry's budget.

DfMA refers to a highly productive method of construction where parts of buildings are made in a manufacturing facility before being sent to a site for assembly.

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

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, he said.

Describing this as an "ambitious" target, he said that this can be achieved by working with industry players. The adoption rate stood at 31 per cent last year, up from 22 per cent in 2018. "We are on track to meet our DfMA adoption target of 40 per cent this year," added Mr Zaqy.

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 over 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,"said Mr Zaqy.

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 (IDD), which allows companies to digitalise various stages of building, including design, fabrication, construction and asset delivery and management.

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

Mr Zaqy noted that 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. This improves the accuracy of construction plans and reduces abortive works later on, Mr Zaqy said.

The Government will be setting 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 level of digital readiness, and identify digital solutions that can benefit their businesses.

Some examples include site management platforms to plan and monitor construction activities, and facilities management software for operations and maintenance. SMEs can receive up to 70 per cent funding for pre-approved solutions. The firms can also use the Digital Roadmap on training to identify digitalisation courses for employees, Mr Zaqy said.

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