A tour of the new Tiong Seng Prefabrication Hub at Tuas was a cheerful experience. I did one last Friday.
The new factory is near to the Second Link and has a commanding view of the Straits of Johor, the Second Link, and parts of the Iskandar Malaysia, including the Tanjung Pelepas Container Port. Its five-storey building takes full advantage of its million-dollar view with large floor-to-ceiling windows.
We are pushing for construction productivity and promoting the greater use of prefab building components. This is not new.
But what Tiong Seng has introduced into our local scene is the automation and mechanisation in the production of these prefab building components. The old approach was to produce them manually which was a labour intensive practice. Work was often noisy, slow, dusty and was carried out in large, open yards, resulting in poor use of land, labour and equipment.
With the automated production line, the Prefab Hub is capable of operating around the clock, under quieter, cleaner and sheltered conditions. Tiong Seng’s manpower savings are impressive. It has reduced manpower needs by up to 70%, requiring only a third of the workers to produce double the volume of precast components. Now, that is productivity!
The Prefab Hub stands out as being truly multi-purpose. The facility not only houses the automated precast plant; it has space for building prefabricated bathroom units, and for pre-assembling, storing and maintaining advanced formwork systems. It also has a training centre, a Building Information Modelling (BIM) Centre and a workers’ dormitory. A little plot of land was thoughtfully set aside for the workers to plant vegetables in their free time. The co-existence of all these related activities and facilities under one roof makes it easier for managing resources, while improving land productivity too.
What also caught my attention were the prefabricated bathroom units. Being the smallest room of a household unit, this is usually the most labour intensive to build. Multiple building trades such as waterproofing, finishes, accessories, sanitary wares, plumbing systems and mechanical & electrical installations, are involved. Prefabricating it in a factory eliminates the challenges of having quite a number of workers toiling inside a small space at any one time on site. Different tradesmen get in the way of one another. The new way of prefabricating bathrooms is indeed a dramatic transformation.
At Tiong Seng, there is the bonus of creating the bathrooms while enjoying the million dollar view!
When the Tiong Seng Prefab Hub is fully operational, running the factory 24 hours can produce enough parts for 5,000 HDB flats. A few more of such hubs will help us build more flats quickly, and with better finishes.
That is why the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has launched a recent tender to develop the next Integrated Construction and Precast Hub (ICPH) in Kaki Bukit. The Tiong Seng plant is inspiring and we look forward to seeing more of such hubs sprouting up in Singapore.
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