26.3.09

Contractors: Jumping into IBS Bandwagon?

The fundamental idea for IBS is to move some effort away from the construction site to a more controlled environment of the manufacturing floor. The benefit extolled by IBS have been documented extensively in the literature (i.e. time, labour, quality and safety & health). Despite, low uptake reported by some literature, the market sector for IBS (Off-site/MMC) in the UK in 2006 is around 6 Billion and most recently in Malaysia, the government has introduce new policy to fully utilized IBS in all government project implementation. In paper, both benifits and opportunity look very promising.

The introduction of IBS, nevertheless, may perhaps leaving some contractors at stake. Some view IBS as a threat and some view it as an opportunities. In essence, contractors need to change and expedite thier learning curve on IBS. Otherwise they will be leaving out in IBS market segment and lost thier opprtunity and competative advantages.

Responding to promising market sectors and its sound benefits, contractors could possibly ‘jumping into IBS bandwagon’ without having a proper strategy to manage pertinent issues to IBS implementation. Following market and trend, the contractors move to IBS without knowing why and how? They tend to treat IBS as conventional approach (what i called a pre-cast syndrom) which most of small contractors (SMEs) possibly did, although there is not enough evidences to support this claim. If treated this way, IBS could possible create more problem in managing complex interfacing, coordinating production supply and communication, thus creating more problem at site and 'sub-contractors chaos' rathar than implementing lean, clean and systematic construction

Implementing IBS requires 'industrialised way' of construction. It may has unique 'gen' or characteristics. There is a consensus of opinion that the crucial factors in successful IBS projects lie in good management, coordination and extensive IT usage. To reap the maximum benefits of IBS, contractors has to synchronize three major functions: construction, manufacture and design. Contractor has to 'industrialising' their process, function, skill, management, supply chain etc. Simply replacing conventional 'brick and mortar' method with IBS components without looking the whole process is not the way forward. Holistic view is needed to adopt IBS.

To achieve that, we should answer the basic questions; Why contractors need to move from traditional build to IBS? What are the pertinent issues in IBS? How to tackle those issues?. It is crucial to gain sound knowledge of contractor’s insight and capture best practices from reputable practitioners. The the Critical Success Factors (CSFs) for contractors to move from traditional build to off-site should be investigated. Based on the data, one should be able to make some recommendations to the industry (read this as the streategy) how to move on from traditional build to IBS. In addition, the CSFs are also usefull variable for Benchmarking study.

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