May 16, 2020

Singapore Construction Week will discuss ways to improve construction productivity

Singapore Construction Productivity Week
Dr John Keung
Mr Chua Wee Phong
Catherine Sturman
4 min
Singapore's Construction Week will discuss ways to improve construction productivity
To help the built environment sector achieve a quantum leap in productivity, the sixth Singapore Construction Productivity Week (SCPW), themed ‘Tr...

To help the built environment sector achieve a quantum leap in productivity, the sixth Singapore Construction Productivity Week (SCPW), themed ‘Transforming the Way We Build through Innovation’, will facilitate discussions on the latest industry developments, innovative solutions to drive construction productivity, and how we can change the way we build through innovation.

Construction site productivity, measured by the amount of floor area completed per man-day, has been improving steadily by an average of 1.3% per year since 2009. To meet the national productivity target, there is a need to further boost productivity in the built environment sector.

Dr John Keung, CEO of BCA said: “The next phase of advancement in the built environment sector will require changing the way we build. We need to move the built environment sector towards wider adoption of the Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA) approach, which means moving as much on-site construction works to off-site factory prefabrication as possible”

“By doing so, we can reduce our reliance on labour through higher degree of automation, minimise the impact on the surrounding neighbourhood, reduce wastage of resources during construction, as well as create more conducive and safer workplaces. The quality of our buildings and infrastructures will also improve as we move towards more prefabrication.”

“The advancement in technology will also help attract more locals to the built environment sector to build up a strong local core and lead the transformation of the sector. Through platforms such as the SCPW, we want to help our firms build up their engineering capability and develop niche expertise, which will enhance their competitiveness locally and in overseas markets,” added Dr Keung.

The key events of this year’s SCPW will focus on how the built environment sector can achieve more significant productivity improvements through the DfMA approach, raising the quality of the workforce and improving integration in the construction value chain. These events include:

  • A two-day Build Smart Conference which provides a platform for industry practitioners to gain insights into overseas and local productive technologies, processes and concepts, case studies, as well as exemplary projects.
  • The BuildTech Asia organised by Sphere Exhibits where some 150 local and international firms will be exhibiting the latest productive technologies including Building-IoT, building materials, architectural and quality solutions, as well as construction machinery and equipment. The tradeshow will for the first time include an agency pavilion to showcase how government agencies in Singapore have taken the lead in adopting game-changing technologies in their projects.
  • A new Experiential Workshop will be organised as an experience sharing session which will include site visits to local projects adopting game changing technologies.
  • The Skilled Builders Project for industry practitioners to display their skills in handling high impact productive technologies using mass engineered timber - cross laminated timber (CLT) and glued laminated timber (Glulam).


Mr Chua Wee Phong, Chairman of Sphere Exhibits Pte Ltd, said: “Technology has significantly impacted the built environment sector in Singapore and around the region. Over the years we have strengthened our partnership with BCA to assist companies in this industry to keep abreast of the latest developments in productive technologies through the deployment of smart building materials and turnkey solutions.

We are pleased to reintroduce architectural solutions and a showcase of quality finishes this year. To further equip the industry, we are proud to be the first to introduce a segment of Building-IoT as well as a dedicated conference to further to assist industry practitioners to cope in an increasingly complex and interconnected environment whilst developing their expertise.”

In addition, the Singapore Contractors Association Ltd (SCAL) will be holding its inaugural Productivity and Innovation Awards (PIA) 2016 as part of this year’s SCPW. This is an industry initiative to raise productivity in the built environment sector through a ground-up approach for innovative ideas.

The competition will provide a platform for companies to step up productivity efforts through the involvement of all levels of staff to propose projects, products or process changes that will result in significant improvements in their work. BCA and the Housing and Development Board (HDB) which supports the PIA, will select the top few innovative ideas to be showcased for public voting at the BuildTech Asia 2016. Winners will receive prizes during the SCAL Conference.

Besides engaging industry professionals, students from Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) will be participating in workshops, tours and competitions as part of the SCPW to learn concepts on construction productivity and compete using their skills and knowledge of productive technologies.

Prior to the start of the week’s activities, BCA will convene the fourth International Panel of Experts (IPE) meeting on construction productivity and prefabrication technology. The meeting will involve 13 prominent local professionals and nine overseas experts from the United States, United Kingdom, Denmark, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Netherlands who are highly regarded in various disciplines and DfMA technologies. They will share their insights, review existing productivity initiatives and discuss ways to further improve productivity in Singapore's built environment sector.

Please visit to pre-register as a visitor to BuildTech Asia and its associated activities.

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Read the September 2016 issue of Construction Global magazine

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Jun 17, 2021

Why engineers must always consider human-induced vibration

Dominic Ellis
3 min
Human-induced vibration can lead to a number of effects upon the structure and its users

Human induced vibration, or more accurately vibrations caused by human footfall, often conjures images of Millennium Bridge-style swaying or collapsing buildings.

But in reality, the ‘damage’ caused by human-induced vibrations is less likely to ruin a structure and more likely to cause discomfort in people. Though not as dramatic as a structural failure, any good engineer wants to make sure the people using their structures, be it bridges or buildings or anything in between, can do so safely and comfortably. This is why human-induced vibration must be considered within the design process.

Resonance v Impulse

There are two ways that human-induced vibrations affect structures: resonant, and impulse or transient response. Put simply, resonance occurs when Object A vibrates at the same natural frequency as Object B.

Object B resonates and begins to vibrate too. Think singing to break a wine glass! Although the person singing isn’t touching the glass, the vibrations of their voice are resonating with the glass’s natural frequency, causing this vibration to get stronger and stronger and eventually, break the glass. In the case of a structure, resonance occurs when the pedestrian’s feet land in time with the vibration.

On the other hand, impulse or transient vibration responses can be a problem on structures where its natural frequencies are too high for resonance to occur, such as where the structure is light or stiff. Here the discomfort is caused by the initial “bounce” of the structure caused by the footstep and is a concern on light or stiff structures.

Engineers must, of course, design to reduce the vibration effects caused by either impulse or resonance.

Potential impacts from human induced vibration

Human induced vibration can lead to a number of effects upon the structure and its users. These include:

  • Interfering with sensitive equipment Depending on the building’s purpose, what it houses can be affected by the vibrations of people using the building. Universities and laboratories, for example, may have sensitive equipment whose accuracy and performance could be damaged by vibrations. Even in ordinary offices the footfall vibration can wobble computer screens, upsetting the workers.
  • Swaying bridges One of the most famous examples of human-induced resonance impacting a structure occurred with the Millennium Bridge. As people walked across the bridge, the footsteps caused the bridge to sway, and everybody had to walk in time with the sway because it was difficult not to. Thankfully, this feedback can only occur with horizontal vibrations so building floors are safe from it, but footbridges need careful checking to prevent it.
  • Human discomfort According to research, vibrations in buildings and structures can cause depression and even motion sickness in inhabitants. Tall buildings sway in the wind and footsteps can be felt, even subconsciously by the occupants. It has been argued that modern efficient designs featuring thinner floor slabs and wider spacing in column design mean that these new builds are not as effective at dampening vibrations as older buildings are.
  • Jeopardising structural integrity The build-up of constant vibrations on a structure can, eventually, lead to structural integrity being compromised. A worse-case scenario would be the complete collapse of the structure and is the reason some bridges insist that marching troops break step before crossing. Crowds jumping in time to music or in response to a goal in a stadium are also dynamic loads that might damage an under-designed structure.

How to avoid it

As mentioned, modern designs that favour thinner slabs and wider column spacing are particularly susceptible to all forms of vibration, human-induced or otherwise, but short spans can also suffer due to their low mass. Using sophisticated structural engineering software is an effective method for engineers to test for and mitigate footfall and other vibrations at the design stage.

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