On 28 July 2016, a professional development seminar on Game-Changing Technology: Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction (PPVC), co-organised by the School of Science and Technology at SIM University (UniSIM), the Society of Project Managers (SPM) and Arcadis, was held at UniSIM. This followed another successful SPM-UniSIM half-day forum on Project Management, held just two months earlier.
PPVC has been touted as the way to go for the construction industry amidst tighter control on foreign labour, and is considered by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and industry players as a game-changing technology. It is a construction method whereby flat units or modules, complete with internal finishes, fixtures and fittings, are manufactured in factories and are then transported to site for installation in a Lego-like manner.
Being a new initiative, only a handful of projects in Singapore have successfully adopted this form of construction so far and the learning curve for these players has been steep. Key early adopters have come forward willingly to share their knowledge and experience at the seminar, attracting more than 80 curious and keen attendees from the industry who were hungry to learn more about this emerging construction process. Five experienced practitioners from different functional sectors shared the problems faced in the use of PPVC, and provided tips on avoiding pitfalls.
Mr Ramamoorthy Rajendran, a director from the Construction Productivity Centre in BCA, explained the new regulation to promote construction productivity, including the benefits and incentives to encourage more adoptions. He highlighted that the biggest change needed is the change in mindset, from one for a design-for-construction process to a design-for-manufacturing process.
Ms Irene Meta, Senior Vice President of Development and Projects at OUE Limited, called the decision to adopt the PPVC method for the extension of the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Changi Airport, "a leap of faith". She shared that their fully-furnished hotel room modules were prefabricated in a factory in Shanghai before they were shipped to Singapore for installation, and provided insights on how the lessons learnt from the project could affect a developer's decision-making process, procurement and appointment of the contractor, as compared to conventional construction.
Mr Tang Kok Thye, an associate partner with ADDP Architects LLP, is a pioneer in the use of precast technology in architecture. As a forerunner in the use of PPVC and with the knowledge and experience gained in the course of his successful projects, he is now pushing the boundary to see the tallest PPVC building in the world at 40 storeys high become a reality soon in Clementi. He also provided useful tips and advice on the design issues that never existed in conventional construction processes.
Mr William Ling, Chief Executive Officer of Sembcorp EOSM, gave the contractor's viewpoint and the new challenges presented by this new process. Mr Tay Ter Long, a senior quantity surveyor from Arcadis, advised on the need to adjust procurement arrangement, contract administration, cost planning and management, owing to the drastic change in the construction process.
With the engaging discussion between the speakers and attendees, the time allocated was not enough to meet the lively question-and-answer session. UniSIM President, Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, who is also an honorary fellow of SPM, presented tokens of appreciation to the speakers.
Ms Irene Meta sharing the projects managed by OUE Limited.
Mr Tang Kok Thye, who designed the first residential project in Singapore using PPVC,
giving the participants a better understanding of design issues.
Mr William Ling, who has more than 30 years of experience in Singapore's construction industry,
explaining the importance of close collaboration between the architect and manufacturer.
Full house for the seminar, with the audience in rapt attention throughout.