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By Farhana Poniman
GEORGE TOWN, May 2 (Bernama) -- SlimHaus Technology Sdn Bhd, a pioneer-status IBS (Industrialised Building System) modular home manufacturer, plans to make affordable houses more accessible to Malaysians.
Director Gerald Chin said the company has invested millions of ringgit to develop machineries and to embark on research and development over the past four years in order to cut the cost and time normally taken to construct a house.
“To start an IBS company is not cheap because you cannot buy the technology off-the-shelf. You have to work with different engineers specialising in various fields like robotics, software, structural, mechanical, and electrical works,” he said.
IBS is a modern construction method in which different components that make up a house are manufactured before hand and assembled on site.
“It took us four years to customise the machine to the standard that we want. We took a risk by investing in this whereas developers will think twice about it because it is capital-intensive with no guarantee that it will work,” he told Bernama in an interview recently.
Chin said SlimHaus Technology has received its final batch of robots from China and is set to move into its new 35,000-square feet factory by August or September this year, and is on track to commence full production by year-end.
Project delays due to pandemic, pioneering challenges
Chin said it has not been an easy road. Resultant lockdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues delayed the company's maiden project in Balik Pulau and its vision to develop 'low-rise' affordable houses was seemingly out of reach as its unconventional business model did not fit into existing local guidelines.
“The current affordable housing guidelines relate to high-rise housing developments, so our terraced housing project at selling prices of between RM250,000 and RM395,000 per unit did not fit into any of Penang's state guidelines.
“We encountered the same problem when we engaged with the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) to apply for pioneer status...we did not fit into any of the (available existing) documents we needed to fill but fortunately, they were very helpful and amended the documents to fit us in,” he said.
SlimHaus Technology was able to built the overall house via IBS methodology which qualified it for pioneer status while the other IBS players were only manufacturing individual components such as roofing kits or modular wall panels.
After a delay of almost one year, the project is now back on track with 199 units of three-storey terraced houses in Balik Pulau likely to start construction by the end of the year.
SlimHaus Technology’s exciting prospects
On the company's landbank, Chin said SlimHaus Technology has about 4.86 hectares (ha) in Batu Maung and 2.83ha in Balik Pulau that it plans for housing development at affordable prices in the next five years.
Moving forward, he said the company aims to set up a subsidiary focusing on technology enhancements to enable existing SlimHaus buyers to make upgrades to their units.
Once the factory systems are up and running smoothly, it also plans to set up another division to sell machineries to allow others to set up factories to manufacture IBS houses.
“When you buy this machine, you know that it is risk-free. It works and it saves you cost and time because it has been tried and tested. We believe this is also another way to resolve the industry’s dependency on foreign workers.
“We are training unskilled workers to be skillful in high precision work in a factory environment using this technology. This is one of the ways to upgrade the industry,” he added.
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