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Need for Construction Industry 4.0

The Industry 4.0 has been much talked about buzzword, both locally and globally. The term refers to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, comprising growing trends in the technology such as of Autonomous Robot; Big Data Analytic, Cloud Computing technologies; Internet of Things (IoT), Additive Manufacturing (3D printing), System Integration, Cyber Security, Augmented Reality, Automation, Simulation and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is an overarching industrial transformation that covers every aspect of industries and economic activities including every aspect of living. It is a total transformation of all sectors into new system and/or way of life that will change the way we do businesses.

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) launched the National Policy on Industry 4.0 (Industry4WRD) to provide a concerted and comprehensive transformation agenda for the manufacturing sector and its related services.

The government will allocate RM210 million from 2019 to 2021 to support the transition and migration to Industry 4.0. The Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC) will carry out Readiness Assessments to assist up to 500 Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to migrate to Industry 4.0 technologies.However, Industry4WRD embraces Industry 4.0, only focuses on the manufacturing sector.

The construction industry is starting to see the impact of Industry 4.0 in terms of the technologies to be used and building specifications. The construction industry is going through a major change with innovative new technologies pushing for industry penetration updating and upgrading current ones.

Some of the major technologies advancement in construction industry are Building Information Modelling (BIM); Drone Technology; Industrialised Building System (IBS) and Green Building Construction

Building Information Modelling

BIM is a modelling technology and associated set of process to produce, communicate, analyse and the use of digital information models throughout the construction project life-cycle. BIM is an intelligent three-dimension (3D) model-based process that gives the architecture, engineering, and construction professionals an insight and tools to more efficiently plan, design, construct and manage buildings and infrastructure.

The advantages of using BIM technology includes improvement of the efficiency of planning and design stage of the construction project. The 3D visualisation also has the ability to provide details of every infrastructure and items within it.

Building Materials and Quantities can be extracted from BIM which will improve the efficiency of the engineering planning and design.Cloud-based platform will improve the ability for analysis and design audit, efficiency for design production and better understanding of the project as client and building owners can also evaluate the proposed design and modifications at different places and yet able to access project information through the cloud platform.

Drone Technology

Site Survey – the usage of drone in construction site surveying has expedite the ground survey process as the tedious ground survey can expedite the site mapping, provide ground contouring survey as well as drone overview image detailing.

Construction Site Monitoring

The use of drone in project and site monitoring has offer numerous advantages for construction applications (e.g. site mapping and inspection, reporting, client updates and project monitoring.) To illustrate, drones can reduce the need for engineers to visit sites, while at the same time increase the frequency of location checking.

Industrialised Building System

IBS is a technique of construction where by components are manufactured in a controlled environment, either at site or off site, placed and assembled into construction works The benefits of using IBS are high-quality products and minimum waste, due to a factory work environment that is easier to control ; faster completion, due to the introduction of prefabricated components to replace onsite fabrication.

The usage of IBS technology will results in a safer, cleaner and more organized site, due to the reduction of construction waste, site workers and prefabricated construction materials. IBS will also reduce the dependency of the foreign workers at construction site.

The construction of the China Wuhan-HuaShenShan Hospital that was completed in 10 days is an excellent example of the IBS or Modular Construction Technology.

Green Building Construction

A green building inherently has a low carbon footprint, reduces environmental impact and enhances the indoor environment, which improves the social well-being of the occupants. In other words, it is a quality building with higher standards that will perform better over its life cycle.

The Green Building Index (GBI) and GreenRE are two of  Malaysia's industry recognised green rating tool for buildings to promote sustainability in the built environment.

Major challenges by ccnstruction industries in moving towards Industry 4.0

They include lack of awareness on the concept of Industry 4.0 and its benefits; no clear comprehensive policy and coordination on Industry 4.0 in Malaysia; lack of targeted incentives to incentivise more companies to move to Industry 4.0; Mismatch skillsets and lack of right talent/human capital; lack of awareness on the concept of Industry 4.0 and its benefits; the industry awareness of the concept of Industry 4.0 particularly for the Construction 4.0 technology.

Generally there is still a misperception that the adoption of new construction technologies will have cost implications. However, the improvement in efficiency and productivity as well as manpower reduction and time saving will eventually add value and improve the construction projects.

No clear comprehensive policy and coordination on Industry 4.0 in Malaysia

The government national policy on Industry 4.0 (Industry4WRD) focuses only on the manufacturing sector.

There is an urgent need for the government to formulate a clear roadmap and national policy to provide a clear direction for construction and building industry players and streamline future programmes related to IR 4.0, in particular, the construction technology.

The formulation of the Construction Industry 4.0 Technology Policy should include all the revelant stakeholders such as Malaysia Board of Technology (MBOT), Board of Engineers, Malaysia (BEM), Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) as well as professional bodies such as Technological Association Malaysia (TAM), The Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM), Malaysia Institute of Architects (PAM) and Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM).

Lack of targeted incentives to incentivise more companies to move to Industry 4.0

The government can facilitate the transition and migration to Construction Industry 4.0 Technology by provide the comprehensive programme to help construction industry to assess their capabilities and readiness to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies and processes.

The government should also provide funding and inceptive towards for the adoption of new Construction Industry 4.0 Technology such as BIM, IBS and Green Building Technology.

Mismatch skillsets and lack of right talent/human capital

There is currently a mismatch of skillsets for the players and construction workforce including the professional (engineers, architect and quantities surveyors) to embark the new Construction Industry 4.0 Technology.

This is where the professional bodies such as The Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM), Technological Association Malaysia (TAM), Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM), can play a role to facilitate and provide training to enhance the knowledge of the construction workforce towards the adoption of the Construction Industry 4.0 Technology.

Training, courses, seminar and conferences related to these new technologies such as BIM Manager Training and Certification, IBS and Green Building Rating training can be conducted.

Overall, construction industry players must thoroughly consider the evolving needs of the industry in end-to-end project management to draw on the Construction Industry 4.0 emerging technologies.

The only way to achieve this is to embrace technology and productivity-enhancing innovations to improve decision making and work procedures.

The risk of not adopting to new Construction Industry 4.0 Technology, is the construction player who do not adopt will face their Kodak or Nokia moment, where they suddenly find that their processes are no longer needed and a competitor has redefined the product and the industry


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