14.10.08

IBS: THE CASE OF MALAYSIA 1

Introduction

Malaysia is a country that consists of thirteen states and three federal territories in Southeast Asia with a total landmass of 329,847 square kilometers (127,355 sq mi). The capital city is Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. The population stands at over 27 million. Malaysia borders Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines. The country is located near the equator and experiences a tropical climate. Construction industry in Malaysia growth 4.6 % in 2007 but in the lower average of 0.7% in past 5 years and contribute 3% of total GDP for Malaysia in 2007 (Construction Industry Master Plan, 2007). The construction industry has been touted as an important industry to developing country like Malaysia due to its spill-out effect and enables growth of other industry trough its role as building block of the nation’s socio economic development.

The Importance of IBS to Malaysian Construction Industry

In recent years, Malaysia has attracted a huge number of foreign workers to take up employment on site as unskilled labour doing manual jobs in construction and other sectors. In population of just over 27 Million is filled out by 2.1 Million foreign workers and estimates put the number of illegal workers in the hundreds of thousands (NST, 2008). According to Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) Malaysia, 42.9 % (293,509) out of total 684,515 of registered construction workforce as at June 2007 is foreign workers (Malaysian Construction Outlook, 2007). It was undoubtedly a shocking result for the construction observers. In economic perspective, foreign workers had sending abroad revenue of a staggering RM17.5 Billion in 2007 alone (NST, 2008). The outflow of Malaysian currency is terrible macro economic situation and not helping local business either. Regardless of foreign labour, the country construction industry is already in a difficult situation with problems such as low quality works, delays, wastages and environment issues. It appears that, local workforce is also reluctant to join the industry due to low wages structure combined with low emphasis on occupational safety and health has created an image of dirty, difficult, dangerous (3D) industry. As a result, foreign workers doing manual jobs are inevitable choice of construction workforce in Malaysia. In fact, foreign workers are unskilled when they first arrived in Malaysia and this impacted the productivity and the quality of the construction industry (Malaysian Construction Outlook, 2007). This, together with the social problems associated with foreign workers further exaggerates the situation (Gue, 2007). The government is aware that the state of the local construction industry is not in line with future development of Malaysia. As such, they are heavily promoted Industrialised Building Systems (IBS) method as a new trend in construction industry in order to encourage systematic construction process and reduce the dependency on foreign workers. This paper will enlighten the readers on current implementation progress, barriers to the adoption and provide recommendations to expedite the adoption of IBS in Malaysian construction industry.

"Contractors, who have seen building material costs surge by an average 25% over the past six months - in tandem with the surge in global oil prices - are bracing for another round of price hikes, this time from higher electricity tariffs which came into effect on July 1 Prices of building materials, including steel bars, cement and roof tiles, are expected to rise a further 5% to 10%"

"IBS provides means to improve this building process which give advantages to the industry. Among the Benefits of IBS are: Cost• Requirement of few on-site workers significantly reducing labour cost for contractors (installers).• Minimum material waste through quality control and continuous improvement.• Sustainability as component moulds could be used repeatedly for different projects, allowing economic of scale and reduction in amortisation cost.• Exemption of the Construction Levy on residential developments with at least 50% of IBS content Quality• Consistent high quality-controlled products through practice of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).• Eliminate substandard product through ‘zero-defect’ programme.• Skilled workers with specific scope of works improve efficiencies and reduce errors.Time• Faster completion of projects due to advance off-site preparations and efficient installations.• Manageable construction schedule by the use of planning control, estimated lead time and forecasted down time.• Not affected by weather element as off-site production allows 24-hours operation. Safety • Promote safe and systematic factory working environment.• Safer working environment as minimal work is required on-site.• Cleaner sites due to timely material delivery, systematic components storage, reduction of construction material and waste on-site" (add by IBS Modular @ http://ibsmodular.blogspot.com/)

LOCAL players in the construction industry have reiterated the need to adopt the Industrialised Building System (IBS) to help cushion the impact caused by escalating oil prices and building materials. In the long run, IBS adoption will benefit the construction industry through faster completion time, better productivity, and reduce unskilled workers. Under the IBS roadmap for the period 2003 to 2010, CIDB has spent a lot of time and money undertaking research and development (R&D) activities. The products resulting from these R&D ventures must now be used to help industry overcome the problems it faces (Tan Sri Jamilus Hussien NST 27/8/2008)

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