(This article is a part of acedemic proceeding, will be published in conjuction of 2nd CIRAIC (International Conference in Kuala Lumpur), Novemeber 2009.
1. The move towards industrialisation of construction industry is a global phenomenon and not merely a local or isolated initiative. Revisiting IBS’s perspective in UK and Malaysian construction industry will provide some ground for benchmarking and technology transfer exercise between two countries in the future. Malaysia can learn much from UK’s experience in IBS in term of thier policies and promotion activities.
2. The MMC (Modern Method of Construction) initiative in UK is a respond to a shortage demand of housing and to respond to Egan and Latham’s report on construction performance. In Malaysia, IBS has been introduced to cope with influx of foreign labour and to improve construction performance. In comparison to UK’s current planning policy and building regulation, the adoption of IBS in Malaysia is more well structured with the establishment of IBS Roadmap 2003-2010. A lukewarm response from the private sector in Malaysia, however, has force us to evaluate the accuracy of the problem statements, assumptions and the timeline of the roadmap
3. The role of the government project is vital to ‘kick-start’ IBS adoption. The implementation of MMC in Housing Corporation and English Partnership projects has created a ‘spill out’ effect to the industry. In Malaysia, the government has emphasized on the full utilization (70% of all construction components per project) of IBS component in government projects. This will spur more investment in component’s manufacturing and create opportunities for small and medium sized contractors to be IBS installers
4. There is a consensus of opinion that the policies and promotion of MMC in UK is based on the needs for a quality and affordable housing. MMC is not highlighted in the policies but it just as a tool to achieve a vision of affordable housing, in recent years to tackle issues on climate change, sustainable rating and to achieve zero carbon target set by the government in the year 2012. Regardless of the method, the main objective is to promote best practice in construction. This will incorporate both modern and traditional method of construction. However, the implementation of MMC and offsite made all the regulation and so called 'green' targets are possible to be achieved. Its imperative that. promoting MMC in combination with traditional approaches will help ensure widespread utilisation. MMC in UK is promoted by the government not as a threat to traditional methods. Both methods should be able to work in tandem and improve their processes collectively. The sharing of best practice between the two approaches is essential for the continued successful development of both construction sectors. Lesson learned from UK are thier effort to promote and set-up policies and action plan based on the benefit/consequence (green building regulation, zero carbon target ets.) rather than the tool (IBS)
5. In Malaysia, however, IBS has been depicted by the government like a ‘silver bullet’ for all problems in construction. Levy reduction (from 0.125% of total project value for project RM 500,000 and above) is introduced as an incentive to IBS adopter not for the best practice contractors. While the readiness level of the industry is questionable, the construction industry is force to ‘make or break’ decision to adopt IBS. In fact, in a good way, IBS should not be seen as an alternative method but rather as a good mainstream solution, where the contractors have the ability choose the best solution between IBS and traditional or hybrid that suit the unique characteristics of every projects.
6. Benchmarking best practice for MMC and offsite construction project in UK is under their Buildoffsite's registration scheme. The scheme has been set up by Buildoffsite, the body that campaigns for the greater uptake of offsite building solutions, in association with Lloyd's Register EMEA to standardise and ensure best practice across all aspects of the offsite process, from the submission of tenders through the awarding of contracts to the specification, design, manufacture, construction, handover and even the ongoing maintenance of a completed building. By choosing a supplier registered under the scheme, client organisations can be confident of the assured levels of competence, methodology and safe working from companies that have standardised best practice for the delivery of their products and services. By taking this approach it focuses on the way the products and services are delivered rather than laying down standards for the products and services themselves. This provides the flexibility to cover a wide range of different approaches whilst still setting a benchmark for best practice.
7. As compared to the UK, Malaysia needs to formulate a better policies, incentives and platform to encourage private sector’s participation on IBS. Buildoffsite and The Housing Forum are well supported cross-industry bodies in the UK, where the captains of the industry has play prominent role to promote IBS technologies. Both bodies are promoting two-way communication in facilitating the adoption. Although, CIDB and IBS Center have been established to play a promoter role for IBS in Malaysia, they have been seen by the practitioners as an authocratical bodies to implement government’s policy rather than a facilitator to IBS. Perhaps, IBS Center should be privatized in the future to solve the problem
8. In the UK, the public housing scheme (Housing Corporation) is under the same ministry department with MMC’s promoter (The Constructing Excellence and The Housing Forum), thus giving the opportunity to strategically promoting and implementing IBS at same time. However, in Malaysia, the housing authority is under the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, while Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) which is a promoter on IBS is under the Ministry of Works. There is a consensus of opinion that, there is a difficulties in coordinating IBS effort and at the same time, the government failed to ‘walk the talk’ to the policy and promotion where the majority of housing projects in Malaysia are still using the conventional method