Chapter 3 - First Draft


Industrialized Building System is defined by Sarja (1998) as an organized whole consisting of its part, in which the relations between the parts are defined by rules. The system can be product system, organization system or information system. In open industrialized, product, organization and information are bound together in a system. The system is also defined as a set of parts with holistic potential; that is a set of part organized to act as a whole (Anynomus, 1998). To date there has been no one commonly-accepted or agreed definition of IBS. IBS can mean different things to different industry player. However, the author has gathered few definitions by researchers who studied into this area previously that is reflected to IBS concept accepted by the construction community. According to Eekhout (1989) a building system is as orderly collection of construction elements and construction components with connecting facilities, which can be combined or applied in various ways, in accordance with regulations or agreement and depending to the environment. The building system process is characterized by the following aspects: technology, the human factor, information and organization. The building system products can be characterized by the aspect of function, flexibility, geometry, material, structural, technical capacity, complexity and cost (Gassel, 2003). Rahman & Omar (2006) defined “IBS as a construction system that is built using pre-fabricated components. The manufacturing of the components is systematically done using machine, formworks and other forms of mechanical equipment. The components are manufactured offsite and once completed will be delivered to construction sites for assembly and erection”. Dietz (1971) in earlier literature defined IBS as “total integration of all subsystem and components into overall process fully utilizing industrialized production, transportation and assembly techniques”. Parid (1997) defined IBS as a “system which use industrialized production technique either in the production of component or assembly of the building or both”. Lessing et al (2005) defined IBS as an “integrated manufacturing and construction process with well planned organization for efficient management, preparation and control over resources used, activities and results supported by the used of highly developed components”. Trikha (1999) defined as a “system in which concrete components prefabricated at site or in factory are assembly to form the structure with minimum in situ construction”. IBS also defined as “a set of interrelated element that act together to enable the designated performance of the building” (Warszawski, 1999). Esa & Nurudin (1998) defined IBS as “continuum beginning from utilizing craftsmen for every aspect of construction to a system that make use of manufacturing production in order to minimize resource wastage and enhance value end users”. Junid (1986) defined “IBS as process by which components of building are conceived, planned and fabricated, transported and erected at site. The system includes balance combination between software and hardware component. The software element include system design, which is complex process of studying the requirement of the end user, market analysis and the development of standardize component” (Junid, 1986). Chung & Kadir (2007) defined “IBS as a mass production of building components either in factory or at site according to the specification with standard shape and dimensions and transport to the construction site to be re-arranged with certain standard to form a building”. Almost all the definition of IBS mentioned the prefabrication, off-site production and mass production of building components as a main characteristic of IBS. The scope of IBS infers the construction of buildings rather than civil structure (bridges, tunnels, etc) or engineering projects (chemical plants, water treatments plants, etc). For the purpose of this research, the author had chosen the following definition that representing the whole key concept of IBS: “A construction technique in which components are manufactured in a controlled environment (on or off site), transported, positioned and assembled into a structure with minimal additional site works” (CIDB, 2003)

IBS Classification

Badir (1998) proposed Badir-Razali classification of building system namely conventional, cast in-situ, pre-fabricated and composite building system. Each building system represented by its respective construction method which further characterize by its construction technology, functional and geometry configuration. In Malaysia, CIDB (2003) has classified IBS into five (5) categories which are pre-cast concrete framing panel and box system, steel formwork systems, steel frame system, timber frame system and block work system. Warszawski (1999) classified building system base on construction technology. The systems are classified in four major groups namely, timber, steel, cast-in situ concrete and pre-cast concrete. This systems can be further classified according to geometrical configuration of their main framing components which are linear or skeleton (beam and column system), planer of panel system or three dimensional and box system. Majzub (1977) expounded the relative weight of components as a major factor of system classification as presented in Table X. The factor has significant impact on the transportability of the components and also has influence on production method.

Industrialized Building System (IBS) type of construction in Malaysia according to Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) (CIDB, 2003):

1) Pre-cast concrete-framed building

The pre-cast concrete framed is one of the most popular forms of industrialized building system. The framed building consists of slab, beam and column component that are fabricated or manufactured off- site using machine and formwork. The advantage of the system is high degree of flexibility in term of larger clear distance between columns, as a result longer span give bigger open space and greater freedom of designing floor areas.

2) Pre-cast concrete wall system

This system consist a structural framework of the building composed of pre-cast slab and load bearing wall. The load –bearing walls and slabs are manufactured off-site and transferred at site to be erected. The system is preferred in simple and uncomplicated with a lesser degree of flexibility whereas the removal of load bearing wall are restricted during the service life. With careful design and good coordination between erectors and designers, the erection process can be very fast with the number of wet trade in-site can be reduced significantly.

3) Reinforced concrete Building with Pre-cast concrete slab

This system is also known as hybrid construction as it integrates pre-cast concrete and cast in-situ concrete. It consist a combination of cast in-situ frames with pre-cast concrete hollow core slab or pre-cast planks. It become so popular by the builders because of the benefit of speed and high quality of pre-cast concrete slabs are combined with the benefit of economy, flexibility, monolithic property and structural stability of cast-in situ concrete frame eventually gives a practical and efficient buildings.

4) Steal Formwork System

This system categorized as an IBS because the process of construction is carried out using a systematic and mechanized method that is by using reusable steel formwork panels. The system allows the rapid on-site placement of cast in-situ concrete to form beams, columns, slabs and walls. The system is better preferred for the construction of walls instead of column and beam due to many repetitive of similar wall components in wall frame buildings. Steel formwork components are normally available in standard panel sizes and stiffened using built in stiffeners or tie rods to resist lateral concrete pressure during concreting. It offers faster speed of erection, comparatively lower cost and simplicity in equipment. It also provides good accuracy and smooth internal finishing that eliminate the need of plastering.

5) Steel-framed building and Roof Trusses

Steel, a strong and stiff material is suitable for the construction and of reparative frame building with architectural detailing with high flexibility in providing long-spanning structure. It normally used in for multi story frames for tall and slander building and also for roof construction. The advantages of using steel frame system are buildability and simplicity of construction as well as greater construction speed.

Benefit of IBS to the construction industry

Adopting Industrialized Building System and other pre-fabricated technique has the following benefits to the practitioner when compared to the conventional construction method (Thanoon, 2003):

a) The repetitive use of system formwork made up steel, aluminum, etc and scaffolding provides considerable cost savings
b) Construction operation is not affected by adverse weather condition, because prefabricated components is done in a factory controlled environment
c) Prefabrication takes place at centralized factory, thus reducing labor requirement at site. This is true especially when high degree of mechanization involved
d) An industrialized building system allows for faster construction time because casting of pre-cast element at factory and foundation work at site can occur simultaneously. This provides earlier occupation of the building, thus reducing payment or capital outlays
e) An industrialized building system allows flexibility in architectural design in order to minimize the monotony of repetitive facades
f) An industrialized building system provides flexibility in the design of pre-cast element as well as in construction se that different system may produce their own unique prefabrication construction methods
g) An industrialized building system components produces higher quality components attainable through careful selection of material, use of advanced technology and strict quality assurance control

Open System Vs Closed System

A closed system can be classified into two categories, namely production based on client’s design and production based on pre-caster’s design. The first category is designed to meet a spatial requirement of the client’s that is the spaces required for various functions in the building as well as the specific architectural design. In this instance, the client’s needs are paramount and the pre-caster is always forced to produce a specific component for a building. On the other hand, the production based on pre-caster’s design includes designing and producing a uniform type of building or a group of building variants, which can be produced with common assortments of component. Nevertheless these types of building arrangement can be justified economically only when the architectural design observes large repetitive element and standardization. In respect to this, a novel prefabrication system can overcome the requirement of many standardized elements by automating the design and production process and sufficient demand for a typical type of building such as school so that a mass production can be obtained. The beauty of the system is to allow openness in its structure supplier where everybody can bid to produce lower price. In addition, the pre-caster and erectors will look for cooperation models that will create benefit for both. OBS also provide a high degree of design flexibility but required a maximum coordination between the designer and pre-caster (Thanoon, 2003). OBS also allows the pre-caster to produce a limited number of elements with pre-determined range of product and at the same time maintaining architectural aesthetic value. Moreover, OBS is permitting hybrid application and adaptable to standardization and Modular Coordination (IBS, 2003).

National IBS Roadmaps 2003-2010

To promote IBS adaptation in Malaysia in a systematic way, Construction Industry Development Board Malaysia (CIDB) has published IBS Roadmap 2003-2010 which entailed the needs and requirement of Malaysian construction industry. This roadmap was endorsed by cabinet on 29th October 2003 as a blueprint of total industrialization of construction industry and achieving Open Building by the year 2010. The roadmap is a comprehensive document that divided the IBS program into the five main focus areas that reflect the inputs needed to drive the program, each beginning with M. They are Manpower, Materials, Management, Monetary, and Marketing (CIDB, 2003a). The inputs are then divided into its elements and the activities to be implemented for each element were then identified and included into the time span of the roadmap in order to achieve the mission within the stipulated time-frame. The content of this roadmap is focused towards achieving the industrialization of the construction sector and the longer term objective of Open Building Systems concept. The 5M component element and activities in 2003-2010 timeframe are depicted in Table 2.

One of the important milestones in the roadmap is the introduction of Modular Coordination (MC) concept. MC is a concept of coordination of dimensions and space where buildings and components are dimensioned and positioned in a basic unit or module known as 1M which is equivalent to 100 mm. The system allows standardisation in design and building components (CIDB, 2007a). It will encourage participation from manufactures and assemblers to enter the market, thus reducing the price of IBS components. In essence, MC will facilitate open industrialisation which is the prime target of the roadmaps. The proposed enforcement of using MC through Uniform Building By-Law (UBBL) would encourage the adoption through standardisation and the use of IBS components. However, until the end of 2007, the UBBL have yet to be amended to include MC regulations (CIDB, 2007b).

Another important step taken by the government of Malaysia is to introduce incentives for IBS adopter. The exemption of the levy (CIDB levy - 0.125 % of total cost of the project according to Article 520) on contractors that implanted some kind of IBS in 50% of the building components was introduced effectively from 1st January 2007. In the first half of 2007, 24 residential projects qualified for the levy exemption. It is a very small percentage of total 417 residential projects during that period (CIDB, 2007b). It shows that awareness among developers and contractors on the levy exemption is still very low. IBS Centre established in 2006 at Jalan Chan Sow Lin, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur will be one-stop centre of IBS related programmes initiated by CIDB, provide the training and consultancy on IBS and showcase IBS technology through the demonstration project. The obligation to implement IBS strategies and activities from this centre serves concurrent both to improve performance and quality in construction, also to minimize the dependency of unskilled foreign labors flooding the construction market.

IBS Roadmap Mid-Term Review

The IBS Centre of Malaysia, under the Construction Industry Development Malaysia (CIDB) has published IBS Roadmap Mid-Term Review report in Q4 2007 to review the implementation of IBS Roadmap 2003-2010 document. The report has highlighted the followings (CIDB, 2007):

a) The report discovered that high rise development and factory-like buildings tend to have higher adoption of IBS compared to landed properties and small commercial units
b) Whilst there is no empirical data, there is some anecdotal evidences, suggest that there have been sporadic dumping of sub-standard foreign product in IBS
c) At present, common practice shows manufacture of IBS components are involved only after tender stage of the value chain. IBS need to be addressed in design stages to be successfully adopted
d) Until Q3 2007, there is yet any certification or accreditation of components companies and installers in place
e) The report discovered that smaller contractors view IBS as threats and not as opportunities
f) Lack of integrated action plan to be implement the recommendations of IBS Roadmap 2003-2010 documents
g) It seems that most locally developed products based on traditional material such as reinforced concrete and most using innovative materials are based on imported technology
h) Until Q3 2007, vendor development program has yet been performed
i) Until Q3 2007, the certification of products and installers have yet to be implemented
j) The report discovered that the adoption in Malaysia is client driven rather than end customer’s demand driven
k) Until Q3 2007, only 54 out of 109 IBS Roadmap recommendation’s milestones have been achieved
l) The report discovered that the constructors only use IBS as alternative option either explicitly or trough challenging time, quality demanded by the clients

Barriers to adopting IBS

Despite the plausible advantages, the construction industry’s stakeholders are little bit skeptical on using IBS product. Warszawski (1999) pointed barriers in implementing industrialization in construction industry as the followings; 1.Decline in demand and volatile of building market make an investment in IBS more risky compared to conventional labor intensive method 2. Prefabrication elements are considered inflexible with respect to changes with may required over its life span 3. At university level student are less exposed to technology, organization and design of industrialized building system 4. Repetitiveness and standardization element of IBS cause monotonous ‘barraclike’ complexes that very often turned into dilapidation slump within years 5. An adaptation of standardization requires a tremendous education and training effort. Standardization of building elements face resistance from construction industry due to aesthetics reservation and economic reasons (Kampempool and Suntornpong, 1986). Yousre et al. (2002) highlighted ICT issues, which are concern with the data and information available to the system, users, clients, establishment of manufacturing layout and process, as well as allocation of resources and materials. Transportation of panels and modules is much more difficult than transporting the sum of their part. A 20% damage rate is not unusual during the first couple of years in IBS project (Stone, 1970). More serious is the problem of making joints, locking, gluing, welding, hammering or snapping components together which need time and experience for perfection and reduced wastage. Performance of high quality components is often offset by patchwork or poor fits and by early cracks. Moreover, the method itself involving mechanized system and skilled worker introduces demand of precision not needed in other method (Strassman, 1975). A country cannot afford to build large volume of dwelling or close the housing deficit fast regardless of time saving if these are to be built with imported mould and cranes. Speed of construction converted to monetary saving is very small. Rationality of IBS depend on many factors; design, standard, volume and consistency (Payne, 1977). The government of Malaysia still feels that the usage of IBS is still low despite the plausible potential. From the survey conducted by CIDB of Malaysia in 2003, the usage level of IBS in local construction industry stands at 15% (CIDB, 2003b). Evidently that most of locally developed products are based on traditional materials such as reinforced concrete and the most innovative materials are based on imported technology (CIDB, 2007b). There is no mandatory requirement on any certification or accreditation of components, companies or installers in place. Whilst, there is no empirical data, there is some anecdotal evidence suggests that there has been sporadic dumping of sub-standard foreign products in Malaysia (CIDB, 2007b). A mechanism to ensure IBS products marked to an acceptable standard must be introduced in the manufacturing process. Testing of components, verify and certify them will limit only safe and acceptable IBS panels are erected and thus CIDB will lead this roles. Hussein (2007) also highlighted the barriers are as follows:

I. Mindset problem towards achieving acceptance by the construction community
II. The cost of using IBS exceed the conventional method of construction given the ease of securing cheap immigrant labor
III. IBS design concept is not being taken into consideration at the onset of the project
IV. Designers will not design using components as they not find the components in the market, whilst producers will not produce components as they do not see design using components
V. Lukewarm acceptance of IBS among designers and developers especially from private sectors
Rahman and Omar (2006) highlighted the challenges as follows:

I. The term IBS is often misinterpreted with negative meaning linked with 1960’s industrial building. These building are normally associated with low quality of building and unpleasant architecture appearance
II. Lack of knowledge and exposure to IBS technology and design
III. Lack of local design feasible of IBS system
IV. Lack of investment in heavy equipment and mechanize construction system
V. Lack of general awareness

Hussein (2007) highlighted the barriers are as follows:

VI. Mindset problem towards achieving acceptance by the construction community
VII. The cost of using IBS exceed the conventional method of construction given the ease of securing cheap immigrant labour
VIII. IBS design concept is not being taken into consideration at the onset of the project
IX. Designers will not design using components as they not find the components in the market, whilst producers will not produce components as they do not see design using components
X. Lukewarm acceptance of IBS among designers and developers especially from private sectors
Thanoon et. al. (2003) highlighted the following barriers to IBS implementation in Malaysia:

I. Wide swing in house demand, high interest rate and cheap labour cost
II. Lack of skilled construction workforce
III. Nature characteristics of construction project which are fragmented, diverse and involve many parties
IV. Lack of local R&D and novel building system that use local material,
V. Most past project constructed with IBS in Malaysia were low quality and high construction costs
VI. Insufficient incentive and promotion from the government to use IBS

Warszawski (1999) pointed barriers in implementing IBS:

I. Decline in demand and volatile of building market make an investment in IBS more risky compared to conventional labour intensive method.
II. Prefabrication elements are considered inflexible with respect to changes with may required over its life span
III. At university level student are less exposed to technology, organisation and design of industrialized building system
IV. Repetitiveness and standardization element of IBS cause monotonous ‘barraclike’ complexes that very often turned into dilapidation slump within years
V. An adaptation of standardization requires a tremendous education and training effort

Trikha (1999) cited the hindrance to the use of IBS as the following:

I. Lack of assessment criteria set by the approving authorities to urge the developers to use IBS
II. Poor response to modular coordination despite heavy promotions and incentives from the government. As a result, partial introduction of IBS such as lintels and staircase has not been possible

Rahman (2003) pointed the following snag in IBS implementation:

I. Transport and joining skill cannot overcome inadequate in volume, fixed cost of machinery and structure can push unit cost up if demand is insufficient, which often is the case of absence of public sector support
II. If management and sales cost added, saving by adopting IBS would be less than 10%, Installation of heavier and more complex components would further raise the capital costs, volume requirements and uncertainty
III. IBS can not save the overall labour cost by spending more lighter-weight component, which warrants more labour cost. Any reported larger saving was not due to increase of efficiency, but due to reduction of quality or to use less land
IV. Low labour cost of the clay-brick industry using rudimentary technique and unskilled labour have made made labour intensive methods able to compete successfully with a production process

Chung & Kadir (2007) stated the following shortcoming to IBS implementation in Malaysia:

I. The construction industry is considered fragmented where the whole supply chain get their own strategy and agenda
II. Inconsistence of policy guideline implementation and practice
III. The industry is uncompetitive due to lack of open collaboration. Contractors in Malaysia are obligate to close system and getting supply from the same manufacture throughout the construction.
IV. IBS need mass production to achieve economic viability. However, in Malaysia there is no assurance of continuity in the production of components
V. Local authorities are unlikely to make change in local building regulations that need a lot of time and cost to establish legislative economic condition
VI. Contractors are keen on conventional method because they are familiar with the method. Changing method or trade will need more investment to train the workers, least or buy machinery. As a result small contractors are not interested in IBS

Realizing the implementation of IBS is still to make headway, CIDB through its research arm, Construction Research Institute of Malaysia (CREAM) has taken the initiative from the problem identified earlier and continued to conduct three series of workshops session with the industry between 2006 and 2007. After a lengthy deliberation with the stakeholders, it was concluded that the factors contributing to the delays of IBS implementation and other issues related to IBS are as follows (CREAM, 2007):

1. IBS is not popular among design consultants,
2. Lack of knowledge among designers,
The need for mindset change through promotion and education,
The stakeholders face a chicken and egg dilemma,
Lack of support and slow adoption from private sector,
Proprietary systems make it hard to be adopted by designers,
Poor quality products available in Malaysia,
Joints are not standardized making it hard to design as the design will have to be fixed to a particular manufacturer,
Lack of push factor for authorities and responsible government bodies by laws and regulations,
The professionals in Malaysia is lack of technical knowledge about IBS components,
Volume and economy of production in scale IBS components,
Monopoly of big boys, limiting opportunities to other contractors,
Low offsite manufacturing of construction components available in the market,
Require onsite specialized skills for assembly and erection of components,
Lack of special equipments and machinery which hampered work. Need more local R&D, support services, technologies and testing of IBS components,
Mismatch between readiness of industries with IBS targets by the government,
Lack of involvement from Bumiputera contractors as an erectors or manufactures,
To consider IBS design for energy conservation and earthquake design,
Insufficient capacity building for contractors to secure project in construction (G1-G7),
Sustainability of construction industry, government to lead during downturn.

Essential Characteristics of Industrialized Building System

a) Standardization and Tolerance

For accomplishing the requirement of modular coordination, all the components need to be standardized for production. Such standardization of space and elements need prescribing tolerance at different construction stages such as manufactured tolerance, setting out tolerance and erection tolerance, so that the combined tolerance obtained on statistical considerations is within the permitted limits (Trikha, 1999). Production resources can be used in the most efficient manner if the output is standardized. Then the particular process, machinery and workers training can be best absorbed to the particular characteristics of the product.

b) Mass Production

The investment in equipment, human resources and facilities associated with industrialization can be justified economically only when a large production volume is observed. Such volume provides a distribution of fixed investment charge over a large number of product units without unduly inflating their ultimate cost (CIDB Singapore, 1992)

c) Specialization

Large production output and standardization of pre-cast elements allow a high degree of labor specialization with the production process. The process can be subdivided into a large number of small homogeneous tasks. In such condition, workers are exposed to their work repetitiously with higher productivity level

d) Good Organization

High production volume, specialization work and centralization production requires an efficient and experiences organization capable of high level panning, organizing, coordination and control function with respect to production and distribution of the products (Warszawski,1999)

e) Integration, Planning and Control of the Processes

In order to obtain an optimal result, a high degree of coordination must exist between various relevant parties such as designer, manufacture, owner and contractor. This is archived trough integrated system in which all these functions are performed under unified authority (Warszawski, 1999). The design, manufacture, assembly and other related process requires a coherent structure and management from the start to the end in order to reach the goal and deliver a maximum value to the customers. A thorough planning of all activities is therefore required especially in the early stage of projects where extra attention must be paid to design (architectural as well as engineering), planning and preparation. By well prepared processes, complete design when the production starts and the use of separately developed technical system, supported by structured planning methods, the execution of the process will run smooth and with a low amount of defect and errors. The strive is towards zero defects and minimum amount of waste (Lessing et. al, 1999)

f) Production Facility

The initial capital investment for setting up a permanent factory is relatively expensive. Plant, equipment, skilled worker, management resources need to be acquired before production can be commenced. Such huge investment can only be breakeven if there is sufficiently high demand for the products. On the other hand, a temporary casting yard or factory can be established at the project site in order to minimized the transportation costs (Peng, 1986)

g) Transportation

It is found that casting a large panel system can reduce labour cost up to 30 percent. However, these cost savings are partly offset by the transportation costs. The transportation of large panels is also subject to the road department and relevant authorities (Peng, 1986)

h) Equipment at site

For the purpose of erecting and assembling pre-cast panel into their position, heavy crane is required especially for multi-story building. It is therefore important to incorporate this additional cost when adopting a pre-fabrication system (Warszawski, 1999)

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