The Roles of Industrialised Building System (IBS) in the Construction of Buildings and Infrastructures for Greater Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley by 2020

The Roles of Industrialised Building System (IBS) in the Construction of Buildings and Infrastructures for Greater Kuala Lumpur / Klang Valley by 2020

By Dr. Kamarul Anuar Mohamad Kamar, Ir. Dr. Zuhairi Abd. Hamid and Franky Anak Ambon
Construction Research Institute of Malaysia (CREAM)

Greater Kuala Lumpur / Klang Valley (Greater KL/KV) is the region comprises of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and all districts in Selangor with the exception of Kuala Langat, Kuala Selangor, Sabak Bernam and Ulu Selangor. The aspiration for greater Kuala Lumpur is to drive rapid growth in parallel with upgrading the city’s liveability. Within the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), the National Key Economic Area (NKEA) for the Greater KL/KV region has specified the following objectives; to achieve a top-20 ranking in city economic growth while being among the global top-20 most liveable cities by 2020 via 9 Entry Point Projects (EPP). The proposed EPPs under GKL/KV are as follows:

1. Attracting 100 of the world’s most dynamic firms within priority sectors
2. Attracting the right mix of internal and external talent
3. Connecting to Singapore via a high speed rail system
4. Building an integrated urban mass rapid transit system
5. Revitalising the Klang River into a heritage and commercial district
6. Greening Greater KL to ensure residents enjoy sufficient green space
7. Creating iconic places and attractions
8. Creating a comprehensive pedestrian network
9. Developing an efficient solid waste management ecosystem


Besides the EPPs, the following mega projects are to be constructed in Greater KL/KV area by 2020. Each project has a Gross Development Value (GDV) of more than RM 10 billion; Klang Valley MRT Project, KL International Financial District, Kampung Baru Redevelopments, Naza KL Metropolis & Matrade Centre, Tamansari Riverside Garden City, KL Sentral Lot C and Lot E, Re-development of Rubber Research Institute in Sungai Buloh, Bandar 1Malaysia (Sungai Besi Air Force Base) and Menara Warisan project.

Industrialised Building System (IBS) is the term coined by the industry and government in Malaysia to represent the adoption of construction industrialisation and the use of prefabrication of components in building construction. IBS in Malaysia has begun in early 1960’s when the government started first project on IBS aims to speed up the delivery time and built affordable and quality houses. About 22.7 acres of land along Jalan Pekeliling, Kuala Lumpur was dedicated to the project comprising seven blocks of 17 storeys flat there are 3000 units of low-cost flat and 40 shops lot.

Today, after 40 years from its inception the use of IBS is evolving. The construction industry has started to embrace IBS as a method of attaining better construction quality and productivity, reducing risks related to occupational safety and health, alleviating issues for skilled workers and dependency on manual foreign labour, and achieving the ultimate goal of reducing the overall cost of construction.

IBS has been predicted by many to play a significant role in the construction of building in Greater KL / KV thus, assisting the implementation of ETP. The potential roles of IBS in the construction of buildings and infrastructures in Greater KL/KV are:

1. EPPs and mega projects in Greater KL / KV area need to be completed on time for fast utilisation to create business and values. IBS as a method of construction has proven to be quicker compared to conventional construction projects due to the usage of standardised components and a simplified construction process. It has proven to be faster to build since on-site and manufacturing activities are usually undertaken in parallel. It cuts down the duration of work and simplifies the processes by reducing onsite activities and the number of trades.

2. Currently, the construction industry has taken the cheaper path by utilising a cheap supply of foreign labour. In recent years, the government is looking ways to reduce the number of foreign workers. The reduced number of foreign workers could hamper construction activities at site. As a result, mega projects in Greater KL/KV will face possible delays due to limited available workforces. In theory and practice, IBS offers significant labour reduction, as the number of labour forces required in IBS is far lower than those required in traditional methods. In many cases, the usage of IBS has proven that it will reduce substantially the amount of unskilled and skilled labourers directly involved on site. IBS also alleviates the issue of skills shortages in construction since all the construction elements are fabricated at factory. IBS eliminates extensive use of carpentry work, bricklaying, bar bending and manual jobs at site

3. Fewer disturbances to the community and fewer tradesmen visiting construction sites are the advantages of IBS. This benefit is critical for hospital, school and hotel refurbishment projects, particularly in the city centre area.

4. All the mega projects in Greater KL/KV shall need to be constructed in highest possible quality. IBS offers improvements in quality, productivity and efficiency from the use of factory-made products, thus reducing the possibilities of poor workmanship and lack of quality control. The quality of the final IBS products is normally far superior to conventional work as the former is produced under rigorously controlled conditions. Complex shapes and finishes can be inspected and any substandard component rejected before it gets erected into the structure. As observed, IBS also provides high-quality surface finishes where the joints section is the only part to be grouted, eliminating the requirement for plastering.

5. Records tend to show that the construction industry is among the leaders in the frequency of injuries and fatalities. The fatality rate by occupational accidents in construction is one of the highest in the country. This is not a good for the image of construction particularly on the construction of mega projects in Greater KL / KV. IBS construction sites have proven to look very tidy and organised compared to the wet and dirty conventional method sites. Wastage of temporary works such as timber formworks and props, which are normal in conventional construction, is not there when one applies IBS. Thus it reduces the risk related to health and safety by promoting safer working conditions.

6. In line with the govern aspiration to encourage home ownership, affordable housing projects have been launched recently under PRIMA initiative. The future locations for PRIMA projects are in Bandar 1Malaysia (Sungai Besi Air Force Base) and re-development of Rubber Research Institute (RRI) in Sungai Buloh. To support this initiative, IBS can improves the build rate of housing schemes dramatically by increasing the number of houses completed over a period of time. This will help developers to meet demands in housing and contribute to the government’s aim to provide a sufficient supply of affordable housing.

7. IBS also proved that wastage can be reduced greatly due to prefabrication of most of the building components. The system offers the potential to minimise the environmental impact of construction activities in many ways. Prefabrication in a factory environment enables waste reduction through process orientation which entails controlled production and standardised processes. IBS also promotes economic and environment sustainability as component moulds could be used repeatedly for different projects, allowing economy of scale and reduction in cost

8. The mega projects in Greater KL/KV should be constructed at reasonable cost. IBS in some ways could be a cheaper method of construction compared to conventional method. The saving could come from a lower number of workers. IBS can also be cheaper if one considers the whole life costing of the building. There are direct cost savings in materials and construction overheads, while indirect cost saving occurs due to faster delivery of building. This particular advantage is beneficial for the construction of small shops and offices. Furthermore, construction of prefabricated elements in IBS results in a considerable reduction in the use of scaffolding, shuttering and other temporary supports as compared to onsite construction.

9. The rising sustainability awareness around the globe has put the construction industry under immense pressure to improve project efficiency and deliverables. IBS has the potential to promote sustainability development and green construction. This may be achieved from a controlled production environment, minimization of construction waste, extensive usage of energy efficient building material, a safer and more stable work environment, and possibly better investment for long term project economy. The industry need to seize this opportunity and use IBS as their competitive advantages in promoting sustainable construction.

It is hoping the introduction of IBS can be a catalyst for construction industry to construct buildings and infrastructures for Greater KL/KV and modernise the industry. However, our paradigm on IBS needs to be moved from only a normal prefabrication into the concept of mechanisation, automation and robotics which can drive our nation towards a high income economy and reduce our dependency on foreign labour.

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