Industrialised Building System (IBS): Towards Mechanisation, Automation and Robotics

Although the large numbers of components in construction is to be fabricated under IBS, the construction is still forever site-intensive handicraft. Therefore, to move towards labour reduction, the degree of industrialisation should be an indicator to measure the level of industrialisation adoption in construction. 

The indicator represents the maturity of industrialisation adoption. Five degrees of industrialisation can be identified, mainly by extrapolating from what is going on in other industries such as manufacturing and automotive.

There are five degrees of industrialisation which are: prefabrication, mechanisation, automation, robotic and reproduction described as follows:  

Prefabrication is a manufacturing process that generally takes place at a specialised facility, in which various materials are joined to form a component part of the final installation

Mechanisation comes in whenever machinery is employed to ease the workload of the labourer

Automation is a situation when the tooling (machine) completely takes over the tasks performed by the labourer

Robotics comprises the ability of the same tooling which has the multi-axis flexibility to perform diversified tasks by itself. This allows the mass-customisation concept

Reproduction implies that the research and development of innovative processes are truly capable of simplifying the production process.

The first four degrees are still more under the influence of the traditional methods of building. Prefabrication aims rather at the location of the production where the next three degrees (mechanisation, automation and robotics) aim at substituting labour with machineries. 

Reproduction, on the other hand, is a concept borrowed from the printing industry and it is an innovation capable of simplifying the multiplier of complex goods and delivering affordable, quality building to the vast majority of people.

The Malaysian construction industry is currently positioned at prefabrication stage (production of IBS components) or lower. To reduce the extensive use of labour and create value on IBS, the way forward for IBS industry in Malaysia is through the adoption of mechanisation, automation, robotic and reproduction concept instead of prefabrication (IBS) alone.

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