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Raising Productivity (The Straits Times Forum)

Monday, 10 November 2014

We agree with Mr Benedict Ng Chee Kean and Mr Nicholas Tan that higher productivity can be achieved by changing the industry’s mindset, continually challenging the status quo and redesigning work processes (“Raising productivity not always about machinery”, “Rethink concept of productivity”; last Tuesday).

Adopting technology is one way to improve productivity and reduce our reliance on foreign workers. For example, portable traffic control units are already used by some contractors at their work sites, to direct traffic away from work zones where road or construction works are in progress. With greater awareness and adoption of such technology, workers can be redeployed to higher value-added jobs.

Portable traffic control units replace the need for workers to manually direct traffic

Beyond investing in technology, both companies and individuals have to take on the responsibility of reskilling and upgrading. A key pillar is creating a productivity mindset and building a strong core of experienced and skilled workers.

With this mindset, firms can be open to new ways of doing things and optimise gains by transforming the construction process to be leaner and more integrated. For instance, architects and consultants could come up with building designs which promote productivity and reduce the need for builders to rework downstream.

In addition, there is much we can learn from advanced countries to fundamentally change the way we build. We are working with the industry to adopt the Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA) approach, by moving as much construction work off-site to a controlled manufacturing environment as possible and minimising work on site. By promoting prefabrication across the entire construction process, construction can be done faster and with less manpower. There are also other intangible benefits such as less noise and dust during construction, safer workplaces and better quality homes.

We encourage firms to continue to tap BCA’s Construction Productivity and Capability Fund which supports technology adoption, skills training and upgrading, as well as process re-engineering. More information on the fund can be found at: http://www.bca.gov.sg/cpcf/cpcf.html

Ang Lian Aik
Group Director, Construction Productivity Centre
Building and Construction Authority

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