PETALING JAYA (Sept 16): The Covid-19 pandemic may have hit the construction sector but it also opened up a new avenue for the industry players to rethink the conventional construction process and start to embrace Industrialised Building System (IBS) and Modular Integrated Construction (MiC), said Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) president Datuk Ezumi Harzani Ismail.

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Ezumi Harzani Ismail felt the time is apt for the industry to transform and move forward.

“The Malaysian government opened up our foreign labour market when the construction industry was booming in the 1990s and missed the chance to transform the industry during the economic crisis when all industries were at a standstill. This is how the industry is still very much relying on the cheap construction labour cost and is too comfortable to move on to the next stage.

“I would like to relate this back to our current pandemic. We are not expecting full industry recovery in the next few years, so this could be the perfect time to relook at our construction methodology and move to the next level,” Ezumi said in a virtual fireside chat entitled “Designing for the Future: Challenging the Challenged” hosted by and organised EdgeProp Malaysia via Facebook live today. The event was also supported by Nippon Paint Malaysia.

Joining Ezumi as panellists were Ho & Partners Architects (HPA) executive chairman Nicholas Lik Chi Ho and deputy director Terence Chan. The session was moderated by EdgeProp Malaysia editor-in-chief and managing director Au Foong Yee.

While introducing the concept of MiC by HPA’s Ho and discussing the feasibility of applying it in the construction process, Ezumi reiterated that IBS and MiC are construction methods that would create more value, such as higher cost effectiveness, better productivity and quality, being environment friendlier and more efficient.

“While we are still very far behind the MiC that was adopted by Singapore and recently Hong Kong, the Malaysian government is very serious in pushing IBS and took the lead. Some 70% of the government project components are using IBS. However, only 14% of the private developers have adopted IBS,” Ezumi shared.

Besides cheap labour cost, Ezumi pointed out that other challenges faced by builders are the lack of skilled and young workers in the industry and higher initial investment owing to the lack of economy of scale.

“However, most importantly, the industry must make the paradigm shift to move away from the cost-driven business mind set towards being value driven. It is very difficult to shift to the next level if we are looking at the cost. However, if we look at the value, the transformation and effort will be well worth it,” he explained.

By moving the industry from traditional construction methods to the IBS or even MiC, it will bring many more benefits than just ringgits and sens, such as a cleaner to the environment, safer and better-quality buildings, as well as improved cost and time efficiency, added Ezumi.

Missed the virtual fireside chat? View the full session here.

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