Gamuda powering ahead with digital IBS
18 Dec 2018 | Malaysian Reserve

The Industrialised Building System (IBS) has been around for some time now. However, its adoption in Malaysia is still lagging when compared to some of the other nations around the world.

Why is that so? In one review, academics from a local university found that the lukewarm response from local construction industry players was simply because they were not convinced with IBS.

“The players, particularly private companies, are not convinced that IBS can contribute to significant cost savings, especially for a small volume of buildings constructed. Also, there is no guidance in terms of finance and cost control in IBS projects,” according to the research paper entitled “A Review on IBS Issues in Malaysia” with Farah Deba Ayeop Abdul Halil from Universiti Putra Malaysia as the lead author. It was published in 2016.

But one Malaysian construction giant is leading the way towards the adoption of IBS. In fact, Gamuda Bhd is all set to unveil its second digital IBS factory soon to crank up its adoption.

In July 2016, Gamuda Industrial Building System Sdn Bhd (Gamuda IBS) opened its doors in Sepang, then badged as the nation’s first digital IBS factory leveraging on digital technology to build properties. It is currently operating at a maximum capacity of 3,000 units per year.

The technology, powered by the building information modelling (BIM), is supposed to enable the construction group to design, customise and produce a wide range of precast products, according to clients’ specifications, in half the time, and with superior quality.

BIM is an online design tool which allows sharing and transferring of relevant information related to drawings, materials supply, stockyard inventory and logistics, among others. This effectively brings down wastage to less than 1%, while at the same time optimising efficiency and productivity.

Now, the growing demand has led to the second factory with an ability to produce 7,000 housing units per annum. The spanking new factory at a 27ha site will also be able to produce a greater range of products, including double walls and a variety of bathroom pods.

“Double walls, which are stronger than single wall, enable us to build higher buildings, of up to 50 floors due to their sturdier nature, which also helps address issues such as limited land space,” said Gamuda IBS GM Tan Ek Khai.

With a combined output capacity of 10,000 housing units annually, Gamuda believes it is well-positioned to make a significant contribution to the government’s 200,000 affordable housing target by 2020, as outlined in the 11th Malaysia Plan.

IBS History

IBS adoption in Malaysia dates back to the 60s in an effort to overcome shortage of houses like the Flat Pekeliling for the police force, noted Farah Deba and her team in their research paper.

However, the imported IBS in the 60s and 70s were found to be incompatible with Malaysia’s climate and social practices — resulting in the closures of precast concrete factories, the paper added.

In 2003, the government approved the IBS Strategic Plan by the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) and the IBS Roadmap (2003-2010) to increase efficiency and productivity of the local construction industry.

This was then followed by the IBS Roadmap (2011-2015) and the Construction Industry Transformation Programme (2016-2020) to push for a widespread use of IBS for a cleaner, greener and more efficient construction from the existing three-dimensional design.

Advantages

Tan said some of the advantages of Gamuda IBS include shorter construction timeline, high quality and assurance, and unlimited product variety. It also reduces dependence on foreign and manual labour by 65%, while building up a pool of innovative and skilled workforce that is ready for the Industry 4.0.

Shorter construction timeline: High-rise buildings can be completed within 24 months rather than the usual 36 months, and landed homes can be completed within 12 months instead of 24 months because the factory is powered by a robotic production system that is able to produce one housing unit per hour and complete one floor per week for high-rise projects.

Gamuda powering ahead with digital IBS
Precast bathroom units, which are hoisted and plugged in as a complete unit (Source: Gamuda)

“Additionally, a fully automated system that does concreting, concrete curing, flexible foam work moulding, cutting and mesh work helps to produce one housing unit an hour — at consistently high quality — allowing us to make up the volume within a short period of time,” he said.

Gamuda Land Sdn Bhd, the property development arm of Gamuda, has deployed the IBS for affordable housing projects. The structural work for Rumah Selangorku (RSKU) Jade Hills — consisting 714 units across three blocks — was completed in 12 months. The RSKU in Kundang Estates, made up of 280 units in one block, was structurally completed in six months.

The company is currently building 664 units of RSKU at Gamuda Gardens, Sungai Buloh, and other affordable housing projects for Selangor State Development Corp in Cyber Valley, Selangor and Worldwide Holdings Bhd in Puncak Alam, Selangor.

Gamuda Land also uses IBS for its own housing projects, building a range of homes in their existing projects including Gamuda Gardens, twentyfive.7 and Gamuda Cove.

“Testament to its efficiency, high productivity and unrivalled quality is the fact that all Gamuda landed properties will be built using Gamuda IBS,” said Tan.

Gamuda powering ahead with digital IBS
Gamuda’s bathroom pods are made as a single seamless unit (Source: Gamuda)

Quality and assurance: Since the products are all produced according to specifications within a controlled setting, Tan said there is no compromise made in terms of product quality. The Gamuda IBS products have undergone quality and fire tests by SIRIM Bhd, formerly known as the Standard and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia, and the Fire and Rescue Department.

Tan said Gamuda’s reinforced precast concrete is International Organisation for Standardisation-certified by SIRIM and QAS International.

“Gamuda IBS’ first project at Jade Hills boasts a QLASSIC score exceeding 70%, above the industry standard of 60% for affordable homes,” he said.

QLASSIC stands for quality assessment system for building construction works. It is a method to measure and evaluate the workmanship quality of a building construction work based on the Construction Industry Standard (CIS 7:2006). It enables the quality of workmanship between construction projects to be objectively compared through a scoring system, according to information at the CIDB website.

Unlimited product variety: Gamuda IBS produces a variety of products including solid walls, double walls, pre-stressed half slabs, special facade walls and even fully-fitted bathroom pods. This provides developers with the flexibility to build any type of buildings and bathrooms of various designs or sizes.

The bathroom pods are built as a single seamless unit, complete with all required electrical, plumbing and ventilation connections, besides waterproofed walls, floors and fittings. The bathroom pods are also renovation-
friendly, where tiles and other fittings can be changed.

“The entire unit is then hoisted by crane to the respective floor where workers will then bolt the whole bathroom pod to the building without the use of cement, making it a cleaner, greener and safer construction site.

“Additionally, advanced robotics in the Gamuda IBS factory increase productivity and reduce wastage as all materials are produced according to the exact requirements which help us to maximise resources,” he said.

Banting Factory

The new factory in Banting has a dedicated section just for manufacturing bathroom units. To this end, the company believes it has procured what is possibly South-East Asia’s largest concrete casting mould. The factory has the capacity to produce 16,000 bathroom pods per year.

With Gamuda IBS, Tan said the entire unit is already completed within the factory, thus eliminating any wet work at the site — a common cause of blockage when poorly-trained workers push cement or other wastes like tile fragments into the floor trap to avoid doing a proper clean up.

“The use of IBS-made bathrooms will put an end to the shoddy habit of improper construction waste disposal. It is designed as plug-and-play units that speed up the entire housing construction process,” he said.