Sustainable construction is a performance concept which genesis dates in the early 1990’s. It advocates the creation and operation of a healthy built environment based on resource efficiency, life cycle economics and ecological principles. Increasing costs and lack on-site skilled labour stimulated innovation towards sustainability and Green in construction. Thus there are several ways to consider IBS for sustainability and Green construction. The focus is mainly on the reduction of energy, materials and waste in construction and the built environment. The first and foremost is to manage and coordinate a better control of solid waste production on and off site, and the second is to separate the product and the process of IBS. On the other hand, process industrialisation is concerned with how parties are cooperating, contractually and informally.

Traditional construction processes are blamed to be un-sustainable in terms of resource depletion due to the application of un-sustainable products and construction processes. The decrease in on-site production will result in an absolute decrease in waste production and the decrease in waste generation. As for IBS, site deliveries were monitored over the construction period. The solid waste such as spoiled materials from off-cuts and packaging can be stored for the purpose of selective process to identify the material suitable for recycling and reuse. A proper storage system can lead to efficiency gains by grouping the reusable solid waste and removing the spoiled solid waste. However, the most important issues of sustainability and Green are how to establish the renewable energy for the consumption of artificial ventilation for the buildings. Energy saving materials to be applied by designers by application of thermal insulation to the building envelope was suggested such as roof insulation, wall insulation, insulated glass, and floor insulation. Energy considerations are looking at the various aspects of design as follows; the orientation and natural ventilation of the building, solar protection, and passive solar design.

Sustainability measures are usually considered in the early phases of new construction projects whilst sustainable maintenance and demolition is often still neglected. Therefore various innovative industrially produced standardized building systems based on the life-cycle of the buildings which IBS could play in driving up quality, value and increasing the lifespan of the building and their components. There are three-pronged strategies to innovate the IBS to achieve sustainability and Green construction as follows; Industrial – to cut materials, costs & time and increase quality, e.g. modular dimensioning and engineering details, prototype testing, and clear assembly instructions; Flexibility – innovations for vertical and horizontal piping, providing various possible locations for toilets, kitchens and bathrooms; Demountability – separate replacement of components with various life spans by the adjustability/adaptability of all parts in differing degrees such as structure (limited), installation (practically unlimited), outer shell (limited and modular), interior finishing (practically unlimited and modular) This is mainly accomplished by designing in standardized materials and the use of exact sizes of prefabricated components as follows; standardized building materials; prefabricated elements; recycled and renewable materials; design for flexibility and dismantling.

By focussing in design and project execution at standardized materials, recycled and renewable materials, flexibility and dismantling of these and the use of exact sizes of IBS components, the waste generation factor could be decreased significantly. Meanwhile sustainability and Green construction is understood to be more than only insulation and waste reduction in construction industry. Hence these require innovative solutions that go beyond the IBS generally accepted in Malaysia. Designers, building material producers and contractors thus need to bring about design concepts, building elements and components as well as adaptations in the building processes by integrating the ecological aspects in order to achieve the optimum application of the sustainability principles during all stages of the life cycle of buildings.

As a conclusion, the construction industry in Malaysia have to turn their direction towards considering IBS for sustainability and Green construction by exploring a new paradigm in designing and construction process. It should include management and sustained improvement of the production process to eliminate waste and ensure the right components are produced and delivered at a right time, in the right order and without defect. In this respect Malaysian construction industry has a great deal to learn about effective logistics management.


Open System concept was encouraged by IBS to ensure the architects’ freedom in their design. Open System approach building components could be combined in a variety of individual building projects as a free interchangeability of components of different products and technologies. A partition between the structure and the infill system might give different solutions for the level of customization and the level of prefabrication. Separation according to building components could lead to new forms of organizing the production using standardized elements.

The organized and accessible systems such as IBS will no longer be useful except the competition of products is weak or nonexistent. Therefore, the coordination of sizes is vital in IBS to avoid monopoly in the production of precast concrete component in Malaysia construction industry. The Open System of components is ease for construction and enhancing the ability to effectively access, repair, and modify over the lifecycle of the building. Similarly, the design in IBS construction and its components can be reconstructed in a relatively straightforward manner as occupant living requirements change over time. Thus, the specific standard could be applied in between two different sectors of manufacturing and construction. And while these standards are being discussed, in practice they are very much related to a single design approach for IBS which may support the both simultaneously. In fact, the ultimate goal of the IBS construction research is to develop solutions that satisfy both of these sectors.

The Open System has been applied in Finland by SATO Corporation on their residential project known as Finnish Plushome. The project which has successfully implemented was support by the Matura Infill System and ManuBuild Consortium.

Matura Infill System

Matura Infill System is a fully prefabricated product, certified and approved in the Netherlands and Germany. It has been used in a large housing project in Berlin and has offered customized just-in-time residential units and the short completion time for each unit (less than ten working days), provide adaptability in design, quality control, the ability to offer fully customized units and future changeability in concrete building. The software called MaturaCADs utilizes product specification, graphic and accounting principles which supports the process from design to real time cost estimating, take-offs, sizing, labelling and packing.

Matura Infill System is organized in two subsystems. The lower system that uses two (2) patented parts of the Baseboard Profile and the Matrix Tiles help to organize over 23 separate subsystem and thousand of parts already in the market. The Matrix Tile is basically a modular floor panel that has grooves in it to provide room for distribution of primary building services such as drains, water, heating, electricity, and all kinds of pipes and wiring. The Baseboard is the secondary distribution system that runs wires for appliances. Baseboard Profile fits into the top grooves of the Matrix Tile, serving as partition bases and electrical raceways. The base profile also allows wiring to be run up into walls and under doorways as required, and also aiding the lower system in accommodating off-the shelf ‘upper system’ components with standard interfaces. These include partitions, cabinets, appliances, fixtures, door assemblies, etc.

ManuBuild Project in Europe

ManuBuild was started in April 2005 as an industry-led collaborative research project involving 25 partners from ten (10) countries across Europe. The aim is to meet the client requirements by transforming the construction sector towards sustainability. The vision is to provide a higher quality building with a high degree of design flexibility at a lower cost. Led by Corus Group (UK), the initiative is endorsed by the European Network of Construction Companies for Research and Development (ENORD1) and in line with the European Construction Technology Platform (ECTP2) research agenda.

A ManuBuild has been developing to enhance the value added of materials and construction system. The system that utilized manufacturing to be Open Building was well-planned to meet with the market as well as life-cycle perspective. Owing the fact that buildings are site-related and technology factory-related, the construction systems strategies was classified into three i.e. the Site-intensive Kit-of-Parts, the Factory-made Module, and the Hybrid.

Raines Court and NEXT21

The Raines Court which are the first multi-storey modular housing development in the United Kingdom was completed in 2003, aimed to drive forward the impetus for innovation and demonstrate improvements in speed and efficiency. The housing features 53 shared ownership flats aimed at local people in Hackney on moderate incomes and key workers, as well as eight live/work units for sale on the open market. Raines Court was an extended experiment for Peabody into the potential for delivering high quality housing through off-site volumetric construction methods. As Peabody's second modular housing development, it followed on from award-winning Murray Grove in 1999, and hailed by the government and the construction industry as a breakthrough for innovative house building. Much of what was achieved with Raines Court was an industry first and it was the largest factory-assembled, affordable housing project in the country at the time.

The NEXT21 project was sponsored by the Osaka Gas Company and completed in October 1993. The building consists of 18 individual housing units, which were designed by 13 different architects. The construction period lasted from May 1992 to September 1993, and the design of the units continued until December 1993. Following a period of six months in which the building was open to the public, the five-year experiment in occupancy began in April 1994. Employees of the Osaka Gas Company and their families became the occupants of the building, participating in the project by beginning the five-year process of compiling data related to their living experience.

An innovative architectural system has been put into practice at Raines Court and NEXT21. Basically, the component systems are divided into five (5) groups according to the required life of each component and production path as follows; Structure, such as construction, connections and foundation; Infill, such as floors, walls and windows; Interior, such as wallpaper, curtains and chairs
Environment, such as experience, sound and light intensity; Outfit, such as roofing, balconies and facade. In order for these subsystems to be compatible and to harmoniously produce a well integrated building, three (3) types of coordination are required; Geometric coordination in terms of the size and shape of the building components; Performance coordination of building equipment; Job coordination in the process of construction


Innovations which are the basis of competitive advance of construction industry can be taken in many forms. Construction innovation encompasses a wide range of stakeholders (an organization of suppliers, consultants, contractors, users, etc) within a ‘product system’. The nature of production in the construction industry for innovation appears to be unavoidable and arise because of custom. Therefore partnering in IBS is vital towards a success of innovation in construction.

Strategic partnering has suited both large and small firms allowing numerous opportunities to improve their conduct of business such as wider diffusion of products without costly physical presence in the markets, risk and reward sharing, resource pooling, reduction in the coordination and transaction cost, ability to concentrate on core competency and rapid response to market needs. Collaborative working such as partnering is essential for construction to address the entire lifecycle of the construction product and take account of not only primary functionality but also productivity, buildability, serviceability and even recyclability. To effect change in the culture of the project delivery process is to use partnering agreements between supply chain organisations. Such agreements were encouraged to make use of standardised and pre-fabricated components such as IBS. Therefore, partnering can be considered as one of an agreement with the purpose of easing works and achieving common goals through knowledge manipulation process.

Partnering create opportunities for sharing knowledge and new innovative ideas to be incorporated into new building systems of IBS in Malaysia. Effective knowledge sharing is an important element in the knowledge manipulation process in construction industry which has been identified as a vehicle for technology transfer between foreign and local companies. Although there are no direct transfers technologies to the partner company, such partner could learns the transferred technology during construction stage and later internalizes the knowledge learned into their own organization. However it is refer to the factors that affecting the effectiveness of technology transfer such as personal relationships, trust, organizational culture, etc. The interdisciplinary team work enabled the transfer of knowledge acquired from partnering in IBS project operations into new innovative designs and construction methods. In the case of partnering, knowledge could be acquired and transferred mutually between venture partners, and was reflected in the creative designs and methods. Extensive personal interactions can help to the transfer and share know-how knowledge which is more likely to result in sustainable advantage.

In addition, partnering is critical for the success of sustainable construction philosophies and to a building system like IBS. A partnering between a major house builder and manufacturer in the UK optimizes the use of manufactured components using the modules as the primary stabilizing components. This creates a more open building technology which based on real industrialization. A real industrialization means the greater part of a building section is mass-produced in an automated process on specification of the manufacturer. This in contrast with prefabrication where parts are produced offsite based on requests of clients. Therefore the active networking between stakeholders (local or international) is necessary to realize the partnering in IBS.

The need for strong financing amongst partners is the most important criteria that need to be critically evaluated before they can embark on a collaboration or partnership agreement. The other reason for partnering is basically for the purpose of implementing new and unfamiliar technological approach. The IBS construction approach require a lot of knowledge in terms of technological and innovation in the construction process. This factor is also important to those industry players who are not familiar with the IBS to merge with experienced contractors through a partnering approach. The other factor is risk and profit sharing amongst partners could be shared in a collaboration or partnership. Lastly, adopting a new management technique in a collaboration or partnership is also crucial for new knowledge strategy and future market investment for construction players in the industry.

The construction players are to embark on partnering in their projects certainly requires a close connection between upstream and downstream relationship. In IBS projects, to embark on strategic partnering concept is significantly important because this method of construction requires just in time delivery of material on site and a good upstream and downstream relationship between players. Without this, IBS projects may not be able to be delivered on time, within the cost and at the stated quality.

As a conclusion, the knowledge sharing of technology in the IBS is critically important between players in the industry. The need of capable contractors and design team to share the technology between them is most crucial to ensure the successful implementation of project using the IBS construction approach. This approach need to be identified to enable such development, planning and construction processes that incorporate design and construction of building that include the life cycle oriented performance and cost guarantees.


Mass-customization is a production made of custom products but on a large scale with simplified processing and systems of light prefabrication. This term indicates a personalization of products which recognizing the importance of the requirements for each single project. In construction industry this means merging a custom but craft-hand approach to architecture, that has always been the most suitable but the most expensive and time consuming, to a rigid industrialized approach, fast, light but sometime unsuitable for particular architectural solutions. Those new paradigms completely change the perspective of professional practice, integrating in the design phase skills to meet client and architects needs.

New strategies and concepts are necessary to empower the small scaled precast concrete companies as well as local construction companies, architects and engineers to benefit from industrialization concepts in the client´s value creating process. The cooperative production network will enable IBS manufacturers to increase their automation level and implement mass-customization on a platform basis. The manufacturer must provide innovative, individual and cost-effective elements and systems in order to compete for the future and to increase the automation level of off-site production processes by adopting a platform-based mass customization approach.

Many systems of the building are concerned by digital fabrication and mass customization process, from structure to roof, but some of them seem to catalyze the major attention: architectural envelope. In order to provide for mass customization the building form must allow for much possible geometry. This is meant to meet the needs of the average consumer, so providing for eccentric designs is not necessary, and in fact should be avoided in order to keep the system as simple as possible. The geometry must be rectilinear, because the connector, which manages the beam to column interface, only allows connections in six perpendicular directions. It may be possible to create non-ninety-degree connectors, but for the initial introduction of the system only the one connector would be provided for simplicity. Beams may be easily created in any length because of the manufacturing process. As the finished beam is pulled through the mold it may simply be cut at the desired length. Because beams may be any length and panels may be any width the beam must allow physical attachment anywhere.

The implementation of platform-based mass customization could increase the competitiveness of manufacturer in Malaysia. This approach will not ensure that manufacturer follow the paradigm shift in the construction industry toward solution provision instead of labour provision. Value competition is the key to overcoming purely price orientated competition and creating added value. The cooperative production network within the manufacturer is a promising approach for making mass customization accessible for IBS, allowing them to benefit from the production advantages of stationary industries, such as economies of scale, economies of scope, learning curve effects and automation possibilities. The cooperative production network is therefore a milestone toward becoming a solution oriented service provider.

Some developed countries such as France and Japan are making significant efforts in automation. For instance the Japanese Misawa system for production of exterior walls combines advanced production technology with a high degree of automation. However the automation of precast concrete industry within the European construction industry are using platform-based or system-based mass customization. It is state of the art within the timber construction industry to have an almost complete digital chain using computer integrated manufacturing from the very early planning stage through to manufacturing. Meanwhile, digital chain tools, such as the Building Information Model (BIM), are developing further. BIM will change the traditional planning process significantly and perfectly matches the mass customization approach to manufacturing individual client solutions. The manufacturer is still only just starting to make use of the information and communication technologies and automation possibilities that are available today.

The benefits of automation are save manual labour, eliminate of strenuous, dirty and dangerous work, and improve of quality. A very important benefit of automation is the flexibility it gives to an otherwise rigid mechanized process. The introduction automation could reduce the duration for superstructure by 15% over the traditional construction method. The technology enables robots to perform sequences of tasks onsite by interaction with its environment through electronic sensors. Robots are also being developed for site assembly of prefabricated components. The research was being done in England to reduce the complexity and variations of construction joints, so that robots can be used to join panels. The Japanese were developing robotized tools for the building site, and installing rails on prefabricated panels to serve as guides for robot.

The concepts of ‘super construction factory’ automation into the building site for steel structures were implemented in Japan. Building components and materials were delivered to the floor under construction through elevator and are lifted to the exact location of the floor by cranes. Robots then carried out welding and fastening. Upon completion of one floor, the factory is jacked up through an internal climbing system to commence work on the next floor. However, this kind of factory requires substantial one-time and ongoing investment. This ‘Super Construction Factory’ known as Obayashi.

The Shimizu Manufacturing System by Advanced Robotic Technology (SMART) of Japan was the world’s first all-weather automatic system for high-rise building. The system integrates technologies of climbing canopy, prefabricated components, automated assembly and computerized management systems. This system of construction technique ideally suited to erection of prefabricated structure. Once the structural core of a building is completed, a canopy or hat truss structure is assembled and mounted, where it will be eventually become the top floor. The climbing equipment of tower crane performs the rise of the canopy. Vertical movement of materials to and from the working storey is by the use of lifts and horizontal movement by hoist. The movement of the hoists is entirely automated to improve work efficiently. Travelling cranes are attached on the underside of the hat and used to handle and assemble prefabricated floor slabs, beams, girders, and walls. The canopy also provides shelter or protection for the floor under construction from adverse weather and environmental conditions, preventing delays and improving working conditions and construction quality.


IBS Roadmap 2003-2010 (1st phase) and 2011-1015 were developed and published to steer the direction of IBS implementation and promotion activities and guide the practitioners and policy makers on IBS related issues including sustainability. Meanwhile, Malaysia’s housing policy is geared towards meeting the objective of ensuring access to adequate and decent shelter to all citizens, particularly low-income groups. Therefore, the housing policy should consider the following aspects: government housing and planning policies in delivering sustainability and urban regeneration; government promotion of IBS; economic development leading to a stronger purchase market; rise of ‘buy-to-let’ market; preference of urban lifestyle of special social groups like younger generation and key workers; precast concrete technology development from their historical versions;
a good number of suppliers and specialist contractors available in the market; increasing public concerns on environmental issues; and increasingly stringent building regulations and voluntary higher environmental standards.

The adoption and implementation of IBS or Prefabrication and modular construction should enhance environmental awareness through education and training focused by the government. Therefore the role of government in establishing the policy for strategic level of implementation is a significant impact on the IBS issues. The incentives and promotion offered by statutory authorities and government policies are desirable through planning approval process. The demand and impact for prefabrication or IBS post war is significant due to changes of institutional environment been promoted the prefabrication or IBS to be taken up especially as policy option. In order to attain sustainability, the IBS policy should consider three major characteristics as follows; Direct regulations – encompass the following obligations for building construction to carry out Action, Prevention, and Decontamination plans, especially focussed at waste management; to stick to norms and regulations, e.g. for energy saving in buildings and reduction of emissions; Indirect regulations – charges for waste dumping and technical assistance for the improvement of the environmental practices; Self-regulation – the facilitation of dialogue between the public and private sector to voluntarily change the behaviour in the construction industry towards sustainable construction.


Mary said...

There is lot of information about construction.

Gulf Coast Supply is a metal roofing manufacturer and supplies wholesale metal roofing and residential metal roofing materials.

willg said...

Thanks for the post, I've been looking for more information on a CMMS system that would be right for my company.