Game changer in building construction
04 Feb 2023 | The Edge Weekly
Leveraging on today’s digital design tools and robotic construction, digital IBS means fast construction and superior quality finish for all

Industrialised Building System (IBS) is not new in Malaysia, having been around since the 1960s. However, it is not a building method that is commonly used even today.

“Many in the industry were saying IBS is the way to go [in the construction industry] and it is the future. However, at Gamuda Bhd, the future has been here [since] seven years ago on the day we set up our first digital IBS plant in Sepang, and the second one two years later in Banting,” says Gamuda Engineering executive director Lim Hui Yan.

It strove to provide next-generation digital IBS solutions by leveraging cloud-based digital design tools and robotic constructions.

With robotic construction technology, products of digital IBS will no longer be restricted to rigid design and will not require a minimum order to achieve economies of scale.

“Back in the day, the initial cost of moulding is expensive; therefore, you need a minimum order to achieve economies of scale, which could be thousands of units. How many developers in Malaysia are building thousands of houses with the exact same design?

“When you don’t have the [minimum order] number because you want a different design for every phase, you will not have the economies of scale and thus you will not see the savings in construction costs from IBS, more so the sustainable benefits of an IBS solution,” Lim explains.

Upping the Game

To address these industry pain points, and for the construction industry to truly benefit from IBS, an entire ecosystem needs to be changed — from developers and contractors, right down to workers on the ground. This means improving existing technology, upskilling workers and creating new processes that can take advantage of this new technology.

“Gamuda’s next generation digital IBS solution and ecosystem helps build homes right, right from the start.”

– Lim Hui Yan, Gamuda Engineering Executive Director

“And this is where next-gen digital IBS comes into play,” Lim says. “Gamuda digital IBS incorporates seamless integration of cloud-based Building Information Modelling (BIM) with high-level automation and end-to-end precision robotic production for accurate builds.”

She further explains that with a BIM-integrated digital design system, all design data is captured online on a collaborative platform, and all design clashes are resolved before construction starts to reduce redundant work and maximise the efficiency of the entire construction process.

Lim continues, “As we’re manufacturing these products within a digital ecosystem, we can control the quality with precision and accuracy to give purchasers the best quality possible with manufactured products.

“The ‘parts’ that form a home are then delivered in pods or boxes right to the construction site where they will be assembled, just like Lego blocks.

“We have also placed a lot of effort into the inspection process via our own BIM augmented reality mobile application, called BIMAR, which uses the camera on a tablet to overlay 3D BIM models on the actual built environment to allow for clashes and errors to be spotted instantly on site, minimising costly rework.”

As the first and only digital IBS plant operator in Malaysia so far, Gamuda has seen unprecedented success in the local construction sector — 40% less carbon footprint during construction, accelerating construction to within 12 months, 55% reduction in reliance on lowskilled foreign labour, double job opportunities for locals in the construction industry and consistent robot-built quality.

“We all know that construction is a ‘3D’ (dirty, dangerous and difficult) job. Many young Malaysians are reluctant to enter the field, hence the high dependency on foreign labour. However, robotic automation changed the perception. First, the working environment is much safer and workers will be equipped with a professional technology skill set; and second, the pay is decent. Eighty-five per cent of our workers in this plant [in Banting] are Malaysian,” Lim shares, adding that it is one of the examples of how digital IBS is making an impact on the construction industry and changing the ecosystem.

Gamuda’s Commitment to a Greener and Better Malaysia

With a land area of 66 acres, Gamuda’s digital IBS plant is 100% renewable energy (RE)-powered. It produces solid walls, double walls, prestressed half slabs and prefabricated bathroom pods (which embrace vertical integration of precast shell, tiles, waterproofing and sanitary fittings) all ready for plug and play on-site.

The plant has the capacity to deliver 10,000 residential units per year, with a majority of the completed and ongoing order books coming from Gamuda Land. Other clients include those from the real estate industry such as developers, and data-centre operators.

Gamuda’s next-gen digital IBS creates precision and allows design flexibility such as these multi-facade homes

“Digital IBS is more than a business investment for Gamuda and the team. It is our commitment to build a greener and better Malaysia. We only work with like-minded clients while prioritising Gamuda’s projects because it is the best way to let digital IBS speak for itself to the mass market. We believe market forces will push more builders to adopt nextgen digital IBS technology,” Lim envisions.

Aspiring to be the key enabler in elevating industry standards towards a vision of future home-building and a sustainable construction method that transforms traditional delivery models through digital IBS, Gamuda Land accelerated the adoption of 100% digital IBS across all its developments.

In the developer’s recent announcement of the acquisition of land in Gamuda Gardens, the developer shared that it will leverage on the expertise of next-gen digital IBS.