As part of its ongoing drive to improve efficiency and productivity in all of its construction projects the HDB has set out its plans for the coming years. Its ambitious target is to improve productivity (the floor space completed per day) by 20% by the year 2020, compared with its figures for 2010. From that date until the end of 2016, productivity improved by 12.3%, so just what are they proposing to do, to increase it by almost an extra 8% in a little over 3 years?
The main driving force behind the improvement is the shift towards prefabricated techniques. This has been gathering pace over the last few years, but new initiatives and guidelines will ramp this up to enable the HDB to meet the target. By 2019, every new HDB block will have prefabricated bathroom units (PBU’s). Fully assembled offsite, these PBU’s are then transported to the construction site before being lifted directly into the block. It isn’t just bathrooms however, by the same date 35% of new HDB flats will benefit from prefabricated prefinished volumetric construction (PPVC). Similar to the PBU’s, this method involves fitting out whole sections of the flats, including kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms, complete with window frames and wall and floor finishes before being taken to the site and installed.
This method of construction, as well as being considerably more efficient, also reduces the amount of manpower, improves quality, increases site safety, and has less of an impact on the environment.
The first HDB project to use PBU’s was Fernvale Lea in Sengkang, which was finished in early 2016. Valley Spring @ Yishun piloted the PPVC approach a year later.
As well as the prefabrication techniques discussed above, the HDB is also using other innovative construction methodologies to further improve its productivity. Two examples of this are BIM (Building Information Modelling) and VDC (virtual design and construction).
The first of these allows the building to be studied and explored digitally, before a spade has been put into the ground. These leads to much better collaboration between all parties and any potential issues averted. BIM has been mandatory since 2012, with more than 125 projects to date having gone through the process.
VDC utilises the 3D information in BIM models to allow contractors, developers and designers to view projects, cutting down on time spent and reducing the chance for error or misunderstandings.
It isn’t just the methods employed where the HDB is looking to improve productivity. Many new materials have been used and will continue to be used, that not only provide a better home environment for the residents but also enable the builders and developers to create them in a more efficient manner. Three examples of this are:
- uPVC (unplasticised polyvinyl chloride) skirting. Since 2015, all HDB developments have used this instead of traditional timber skirting. As well as being higher quality, it is easier, and therefore quicker to install.
- Laminated uPVC architraves and doors have been made standard this year (2017). Like the skirting, they are easier to install, as well as being more robust than their timber and steel counterparts.
- Since 2016, HDB flooring has been made up of vinyl strips. It resembles traditional wooden flooring, but as well as giving greater slip resistance and better overall comfort for homeowners, it is also easier to install.
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