For the last four decades, the Malaysian construction industry has been experimenting with various prefabricated construction; being lead by various precast concrete solution providers. In most cases, it was for one-off and isolated projects. No proper plan was formulated by the Government for the industrialisation of construction until post 1990s.
Collective movement towards construction industrialisation was first pioneered by researchers from Housing Research Centre (HRC), Universiti Putra Malaysia. IBS is a rebranding of the concept of prefabrication introduced differentiating it with the former in term of better productivity, quality and safety. The research centre had organised a series of national and international colloquiums and seminars on IBS starting as early as 1984 to 2003. The focus at time is to identify local material for affordable housing scheme constructed using IBS.
Their research on Interlocking load bearing hollow block building had won prestigious the Geneva Gold Medal 2001. The centre was also engaged with the National Affordable Housing research program with the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MHLG) and CIDB between 2001 and 2003.
The establishment of CIDB in 1996 (under Act 520) as government agency under Ministry of Work aims to enhance the development the construction industry had brings IBS into a new height. In 1999, based on the resolution made during the Colloquium of Industrialised Construction System 1998, the CIDB formed the IBS Steering Committee in the effort to bring to the fore all the IBS related issues in a framework to drive the industry forward (CIDB, 2005). The IBS Steering Commitee was led then by Prof. Abang Abdullah Abang Ali
The IBS Strategic Plan 1999 was published as a result for establishment of this committee. The IBS Strategic Plan 1999 was the result of this effort and proved to be a good framework that set wheels in motion towards full adoption of IBS industry. While the effort seems to be successful, there is still a lot of room for improvement. A greater coordination of the whole industry needed for greater success in the campaign.
The introduction of IBS Roadmap 2003-2010 had succeeded IBS Stategic Plan 1999 was then developed by the captains of the industry. The masterplan was aimed to facilitate the transformation of the Malaysian construction sector was formulated with inputs from industry and endorsed by the Cabinet in October 2003. The masterplan is based on the 5-M Strategy (Manpower, Materials-Components-Machines, Management- Processes-Methods, Monetary and Marketing) with the target of having an industrialised construction industry as well as achieving Open Building Concept by the year 2010 (CIDB, 2003).
About 109 milestones are set to be achieved in year 2010. The lead secretariat for the development and monitoring of IBS Roadmap is CIDB, under the patronage of the Ministry of Works. Supporting the programme are the various agencies involved in the 5-M activities of the Roadmap with Public Work Department (PWD) Malaysia as the most important partner (Shaari, 2006). The key elements of the roadmap are as follows; To have a labour policy that gradually reduces percentage of foreign workers from the current 75% to 55% in 2005, 25% in 2007 and 15% in 2009, To incorporate IBS/MC in professional courses for architects, engineers and others, To incorporate syllabus on IBS/MC in architecture, engineering, building courses in local universities, To enforce Modular Coordination (MC) by local authorities through Uniform Building by- Law (UBBL), To develop catalogue of building components and standard plans for housing, To develop IBS Verification scheme, To enforce utilisation of IBS for 30% of total government project (building) in 2004 and gradually increasing to 50% in 2006 and 70% in 2008, To introduce buildability programme for all private building and enforcement from 2008, To provide tax incentives for manufacturer of IBS components, To offer green lane programme for users of standard plans (designed using standard IBS Components and MC), To start vendor developing programme, training and financial aid, To abolish levy for low, low-medium & medium cost houses; and to set 50% levy reduction. The roadmap implementation is supervised under IBS Steering Commitee and IBS Technical Commitee lead by Tan Sri Jamilus Hussien (later Dato' Abu Bakar Mat Diah) and Dato' Abu Bakar Mat Diah respectively.
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 (stipulated under MS1064). The system allows standardisation in design and building components (CIDB, 2007). 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.
The IBS Agenda was further boosted with the 2004, 2005 and 2006 Budget announcements. In 2004, all new government building projects were required then to have at least 50% of IBS content which had been calculated using IBS Score Manual developed by CIDB. Further in 2005, the government had pledged to construct 100,000 units of affordable houses using IBS (Hamid et al, 2008). Finally in 2006, tax incentive was offered through Acceleration Capital Allowance (ACA). IBS manufacturers would be given ACA for expenses incurred in the purchase of moulds used for production of precast concrete components to be claimed within three years (CIDB, 2005 and Shaari, 2006).
The 1st Malaysian IBS International Exhabition (MIIE 2006) was conducted in early 2006 as a platform for practitioners to change ideas, involve in IBS business matching and showcasing thier product in IBS. Among the distigush speakers invited at that time is Prof. Stephan Kendall, a well-known researcher in open building. This event was successfull atracted 56 government agencies, researchers, professionals and manufacturers to exhibits thier products as well as over 2000 local and international visitors. The event was officiated by Dato' Mohd Zin (then Minister of Work).The 2nd Malaysian IBS International Exhabition (MIIE 2009) was organised in February 2009. The theme of the exhabitions was "development through IBS integration". Richard Ogden (Buildoffsite UK) was giving his keynote address on IBS particularly on offsite construction development in the UK. The event was officiated by Malaysian Prime Minister, Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak.
The Construction Industry Master Plan 2006-2015 (CIMP 2006-2015) has been published in December 2006 as means to chart the future direction of the Malaysian Construction Industry. The effort to promote IBS is highlighted under Strategic Thrust 5: Innovate through R&D to adopt a new construction method (CIMP, 2006). A number of projects have been undertaken under the recommendation of CIMP including the establishment of IBS Centre in 2006 located at Jalan Chan Sow Lin, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur which 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 Centre has 5 elementary tasks: Industry planning, promotion and marketing, verification and certification training and technology development. Currently, the centre offered 7 professional training courses; Module IBS01: Introduction to IBS and Modular Coordination, Module IBS02: IBS Score calculation and submission, Module IBS03: Precast concrete planning and execution, module IBS04: Analysis and design of precast concrete structure, module IBS05: Analysis and design of steel frame structures, module IBS06: Modular coordination design and module IBS07: procurement and contract administration. CIDB also offered courses for contractor to become IBS component installer under National Occupational Skill Standard for Construction Industry (NOSS) conducted under the Personnel and Contractor Development Sector of CIDB. The CIMP was also supported Research and Development (R&D) activities on IBS conducted by Construction Research Institute of Malaysia (CREAM). CREAM is a research arm of CIDB operates at Makmal Kerja Raya Malaysia (MKRM), national laboratory for IBS testing and research. As to date, there are 12 IBS research has been conducted worth more than RM 6.0 million of capital investment.
It is also important for private developers to participate in ensuring the successful implementation of the programme. Currently there is exemption of the construction levy (CIDB levy - 0.125 % of total cost of the project according to Article 520) on contractors that have used IBS in 50% of the building components in residential buildings (Hamid et al, 2008). Some may argue that the incentive in the form of exemption of levy for projects with minimum IBS Score of 50% is too little. The effectiveness of the offer is very unlikely due to the fact that the current levy imposed on building projects is already low. Initially the levy charged for construction projects was at 0.25%. However, after the enforcement of the Economic Stimulus Package in 2003, it was reduced to 0.125% and as for low, low medium and medium cost housing projects, no levy is imposed. Based on the 0.125% rates, say for a RM 20 million project, the levy to be paid to the Government is only RM 250,000. The offer will only be attractive if the increase of cost due to the usage of IBS components is less than that value (Shaari, 2006).
The construction of life-size structures at the compound of IBS Village (located at IBS centre), Kuala Lumpur will be the first ever attempt at show-casing a diverse range of IBS products and techniques in the construction technology market. The full scale structures will demonstrate attempts at using the open buidling system and combination of multi IBS products and components in building designed according to MS 1064, the MC design standard. The components involve in this pilot projects were from Pryda (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. (Roof trusses), BPB Malaysia Gypsum Sdn Bhd. (Internal wall partitions), IJM Building Systems Sdn Bhd. (Formwork systems), Corporate Builders Sdn Bhd (PC Walls), Baktian Sdn Bhd (PC Walls), ACP Industries Bhd (Half Slabs), Setia Precast Sdn Bhd (PC Walls), Eastern Pretech Sdn Bhd. (Hollow Core Slabs & Toilet Pod), PJD Concrete Products Sdn Bhd (PC Walls), Zenbes Sdn Bhd (Blocks), CSR Building Materials (M) Sdn Bhd (Light-weight Blocks), Lafarge Roofing Systems Sdn Bhd (Roof Tiles), VS Interior Décor Sdn Bhd (Railings), Hoe Fock Wooden Works Sdn Bhd (Wooden Windows & Door Frames), STO Sea Sdn Bhd (Painting), Johan Ceramics Berhad (Tiles).
In 2007, the CIDB performed a mid-term review of the implementation of IBS Roadmap. The review was performed using available data supplemented by the collection of industry perception through interviews with key industry decision makers. The report was published under the title Implementing IBS Roadmap 2003-2010. Several recommendations has been brought up to remove and reduce barriers in the roadmap implementation including developing and execute holistic communication plan, employ different approaches for different industry segments and change customer perception, creating demand as leverage to IBS adoption (CIDB, 2007)
The new circular from the Malaysian Ministry of Finance (7/2008) dated on October 2008 had emphasized on the full utilization of IBS in government’s projects. Among the pressing matters raised in the circular were the use of IBS component in government projects must not be less than 70% and the inclusion of IBS as part of contract documents for all government’s building works (Hamid et al, 2008). The decision to make it compulsory for any government buildings was to create sufficient momentum for the demand of IBS components. As on February 2009, in approximate of 320 government’s projects worth RM 9.43 billion had been identified to be carried out using the IBS (Bernama, 2009).
In June 2010, the government will introduce The New Economic Model 2011-2020 for Malaysia that will push the nation out of the middle income trap and create high income society towards developed nation status by the year 2020. The New Economic Model aims to increased employees’ productivity through their own efforts in innovation and creativity. By putting emphasis on this new economic model, the government hopes employees will attain a higher level of competitiveness and eventually improve their standard of living. In this model government will continue to introduce measures to reduce dependency on foreign workers in all sectors. It is hoping the industrialisation of the industry through mechanisation, pre-fabrication and automation in IBS will reduce the number of foreign labour and it eventually will be replaced by high skilled local workforce supporting national agenda as stipulated under The New Economic Model (CIDB, 2010). With that regards, the government has also pledged in 2009 to establish a new policy to reduce 50% of current 320,000 foreign workers registered in the sectors and CIDB has allocated RM 100 million to train skilled workers among locals on IBS and other methods to cope with the loss (Bernama, 2009).
The new IBS Roadmap 2011-2015 will be make public in 2011. The roadmap is developed by CIDB under consulation of the indsutry players to chart the way forward for IBS industry. Bina Fikir Sdn. Bhd was the consltant appointed to undertake the study. Policy objectives are the high level intended outcomes of implementing IBS. To remain focused, it was narrowed down to four policy objectives i.e. quality, efficient, competent and sustainable. A sustainable IBS industry will contribute to the competitiveness of the construction industry. The mission of the new roadmap is to provide a quality, efficient, competent and sustainable IBS that contributes the competitiveness of the Malaysian construction industry. The pillars of the roadmap are as follows; Good quality designs, components and buildings are the desired outcome of IBS. Aesthetics should be promoted through innovation, To ensure that by using IBS, completion time of a building is speedier, more predictable and well-managed, To have a ready pool of competent IBS professionals and workers throughout the entire project life-cycle: from design, manufacture, build to maintain, To create a financially sustainable IBS industry that balances user affordability and manufacturer viability