BuildTech Asia 2016 Unveils Transformation of Building and Construction Sector
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The sixth edition of BuildTech Asia 2016, the region’s leading trade show for the building and construction industry, recorded an increased visitor attendance of 35% over the three-day event. Organised by Sphere Exhibits and hosted by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), the annual trade show was held from 18 to 20 October, in conjunction with the Singapore Construction Productivity Week (SCPW).

Over 100 exhibiting brands showcased the latest productive and cutting edge technologies from construction machinery to quality finishes, building and architectural solutions. Robotics and Internet of Things (IoT) technology were also on display alongside 3D concrete printers, immersive Big Data and Virtual Reality applications. Some 7,000 visitors from 32 countries had the opportunity to learn about the future of construction with the use of applied technology and building materials.

Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance, graced the opening of the Singapore Construction Productivity Week and BuildTech Asia. He announced that the Singaporegovernment is committed to help firms harness the full potential of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Virtual Design Construction to improve collaboration and enhance the construction management process.

Mr Chua Wee Phong, Chairman of Sphere Exhibits Pte Ltd, said: “The pace of digital transformation in this domain is accelerating across multiple sectors within construction. We are very pleased that BuildTech Asia, in its sixth year, has continued to attract strong interest and support from exhibitors and visitors alike and we hope that the increasing uptake of these technologies will spur the construction industry towards greater productivity.”

“BuildTech Asia provides a good learning experience to understand more about the building space and its evolution over the years. We are also happy to note that the trade platform now plays a strong role in bridging knowledge gaps through its ancillary conferences and associated trade activities. This is the future of the built environment industry and BuildTech Asia is at the very heart of it.”

Thirty-five key technologies under seven R&D clusters were identified to enable the built environment sector to sustain productivity improvements in the long term. These areas include Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA), automated equipment and robotics, info-comm technology, Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Virtual Design and Construction (VDC), 3D printing, advanced construction materials and productive solutions for civil engineering works. Additionally, BCA’s announcement to fund S$2 million for four research projects will focus on solutions that drive DfMA in the sector with much on-site construction works shifted to off-site prefabrication and automation in a factory environment as well as improving integration across the construction value chain.

Dr John Keung, CEO of BCA, said that the built environment sector needs to constantly develop and harness innovations and new technologies to improve construction productivity and resource efficiencies, given the tightened manpower supply in this sector. This shift in approach will result in better job creation in the sector.

Visitors were delighted to see the array of exhibits demonstrating best practices in productivity and sustainability. Alfred Griffioen, founding partner at Alliance Experts, said: “Professionals in this industry do not normally associate cutting edge technology with construction, but it is highly applicable. The exhibition this year included exciting technology elements such as a 3D concrete printer, a crane that doesn’t sway and a booth which, aided by Virtual Reality applications, gave a walk through experience in a project that hasn’t yet been brought to life. I would encourage anyone in this sector to attend BuildTech Asia to get a feel of the current landscape and its emerging trends in the future.”

Strengthening knowledge-based platforms for regional exchange

As Singapore is in a leadership position as a hub for developing Southeast Asian markets such as Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, BuildTech Asia plays a facilitation role in knowledge sharing. Some 100 trade delegates were present at site visits to the BCA Skylab, a state-of-the-art rotatable test facility pivotal to developing innovative energy efficient building technologies as well as a construction site for a residential estate comprising of nine blocks of 22 storey buildings. This site is the first in Singapore to implement the use of productive technologies such as Prefabricated Volumetric Construction (PVC) modules for three blocks, conventional 2-D precast panels for the remaining six blocks and the use of Prefabricated Bathroom Units (PBUs) for all units. The project is based on first generation (Concrete PVC) proposal using columns, beams and slabs.

Property developers are creating customer-centric one-to-one (O2O) experience through sensor technology, Internet of Things, cloud, RFID technology, social media and data analytics to develop touchpoints with consumers. The inaugural Building Internet of Things Asia (B-IoT Asia) Conference, by a panel of well-respected speakers from the region, demonstrated how such knowledge and technology can be applied and how buildings can be constructed to cater for evolving technology requirements. Delegates engaged in deep discussions on how to apply technologies like Big Data and Internet of Things to the building and construction sector.

The Environment Sustainability Conference educated delegates on how to think, build and operate ‘Green’. Speakers showed building information modelling (BIM) that can pave the way to creating a building sustainably; how machine-based learning contributes to energy management; and how to design with a view to achieving Green Mark 2015 certification. The Conference also discussed how acting sustainably while constructing a building was as important as creating a building that is inherently sustainable.

Forging productive practices in innovative construction from ground up

Innovation and technology have strong impact on a company’s productivity. The inaugural SCAL Productivity and Innovation Awards (PIA) 2016 which took place at BuildTech Asia saw some 1,000 visitors cast their votes on 10 finalists for the coveted Productivity & Innovation Awards by Singapore Construction Association Limited (SCAL).

PIA 2016 is an industry-led initiative designed to raise productivity in the construction sector through a ground-up approach for innovative ideas that aims to generate significant improvements at the workplace. Three winners were announced at the Environmental Sustainability Conference, held on 20 October, in conjunction with BuildTech Asia.

The winners were:

  • Gold: Lian Soon Construction Pte Ltd – Innovative Drain (iDrain) – The Durable Reusable ECM Drain
  • Silver: Samwoh Corporation Pte Ltd – Productive and Green Solution for Pavement Retexturing & Spillage Removal
  • Bronze: S C Ang Consortium Pte Ltd – GNSS for Piling Project

All winning organisations acknowledged the significance of this award in encouraging the industry to strive towards innovative work processes through a ground-up approach. Ariola Ruel Penaflor, Head, Lian Soon Construction Pte Ltd, who clinched the gold award, said: “The Productivity & Innovation Award (PIA) is an excellent platform for construction companies to come together and showcase their latest innovations and developments. Winning the gold brings us one step closer to commercialising our drain system and we hope to see the industry benefitting from this recyclable and reusable model. The iDrain will be a game-changer, by reducing wastage and manpower with its extreme sustainability. This award has given companies like us various opportunities to create impactful changes in the building scene from our small ideas.”

Mr Kenneth Loo, President of Singapore Construction Limited (SCAL), said: “We are happy to note that the inaugural PIA Awards kicked off to a good start in our efforts to drive productivity and innovation to a different level in the built environment sector. The award has provided professionals with something to look at and something to move forward with in practice. It recognises these efforts as important and integral to build a productive culture from the grounds up, allowing practitioners greater involvement in their efforts to increase productivity and innovative solutions. BuildTech Asia provides the ideal platform to showcase and broadcast these ideas and prototypes within the industry, in line with government collaborations in this sector. SCAL will be happy to explore continued involvement as we strive to grow and develop the awards with a common vision towards driving productivity and innovation.”

Forging partnerships and collaborations in SMART construction

Besides exploring the latest technologies and materials, delegates and exhibitors fostered new business relationships as well as commercial partnerships at BuildTech Asia. The trade exhibition was well received as it generated qualified leads for the exhibitors and much needed awareness for vendors in an industry that may otherwise not offer a lot of visibility.

Visitors saw a wide range of new innovations that could help them gain construction productivity and reduce manpower expenses at the Public Sector Co-ordinated Pavilion, amongst exhibiting country pavilions and exhibiting companies. Five government agencies – LTA, HDB, IMDA, HDB and NTU, showcased cutting edge and future technologies which were used within their respective organisations.

BuildTech Asia 2016 also provided a conducive springboard for exhibiting companies to launch new products, services and technologies into the local and international market. Various industry players announced new initiatives and partnerships aimed at elevating construction productivity in Singapore and the region:

  • Bointec, a Taiwanese company, launched their latest IoT product, HC818K, aims to launching it in the Southeast Asian (SEA) market.
  • In its second return to BuildTech Asia, FINALCAD announced a USD20m funding to help expand its suite of services in SEA. This new round of funding aims to assist the development of new technology such as object recognition, predictive analytics and augmented reality and complements their existing mobile apps in BIM for the field.
  • Korean company, Two Cap, launched a patented dual cap protector for the first time in Singapore and around the region. This product meets the standards of most countries in Asia and Europe.

BuildTech Asia will return to the Singapore Expo in October 2017. Premium spaces are now available. Organisations which are keen to exhibit at BuildTech Asia 2017 are welcome to reserve their spaces early.

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