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'More teamwork needed'

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Govt looks to get construction industry players to collaborate from the start

The building time for public sector projects such as transport infrastructure and Housing Board flats could be shortened, as the Government is looking at making industry players collaborate from the beginning.

The industry - from architects and engineers to contractors and facility managers - now tends to work in silos, causing inefficiency, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

To boost productivity, the Government is looking into piloting a collaborative contracting model in its projects similar to existing ones in the United States and Hong Kong, he said.

Speaking at the first joint conference by the Board of Architects and Association of Consulting Engineers at Marina Bay Sands yesterday, Mr Wong said the push towards a collaborative approach was necessary as the sector here is "fragmented" despite the small market.

This means it takes time for new best practices or technologies to filter through to the entire industry.

"There is also the risk of working in silos and not coordinating effectively amongst ourselves," Mr Wong said.

If the building plans were not specified properly or if work needs to be aborted, it could lead to inefficiencies, duplication of effort and wastage, he added.

In the US, the different parties come together to conceptualise the project from day one and seek to minimise errors, wastage, and redesign problems, he said. Hong Kong also uses an alliance contracting framework for all its government projects tendered from 2015.

Here, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is looking to do something similar by stipulating how important details are to be communicated between architects, engineers, contractors and facility managers, said Mr Neo Choon Keong, its deputy chief executive officer of industry development.

As BCA is the biggest procurer, it is working with government agencies to put in place contractual requirements to get parties to collaborate, he said on the sidelines of the conference.

This would also pave the way for developers, consultants and contractors to adopt digital building tools, such as Building Information Modelling (BIM), to facilitate collaboration, said Mr Neo.

The hope is for the private sector to follow suit.

BCA already imposes the mandatory use of prefabricated methods, known as Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction (PPVC), at selected government land sales sites.

According to BCA's targets, 70 per cent of all large construction projects should be designed virtually and use such offsite methods by 2025, said Mr Neo.

But some project consultants from small or medium-sized enterprisesare sceptical about the push for PPVC and BIM due to the projected higher costs.

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