Contractors could be in for some big savings in steelfixing costs if plans for land to house an offsite cut and bend facility for steel reinforcement fabrication get the go ahead from the government.
Responding to an enquiry from Construction Post, the Development Bureau said it had tentatively found a spot.
“A potential site has been identified and is being assessed on its suitability to serve the intended purpose,” a bureau spokesman said in a written statement.
However the bureau did not give the location of the site.
It said the Hong Kong Bar-Bending Contractors Association made a formal request to help locate land for an offsite cut and bend facility to address the problems of ageing workers and labour shortages in the bar-bending trade.
The bureau said the trade association for main contractors, the Hong Kong Contractors Association, did not make a request for land for offsite cut and bend.
Offsite cut and bend refers to the cutting, bending and fabrication of steel reinforcement at a location offsite in a dedicated factory.
In the UK construction industry, almost all steel reinforcement is fabricated offsite.
Asked about the type of lease and the financial terms for the site, a bureau spokesman said it was still considering these matters.
The spokesman added that subject to clearing all statutory requirements, it was aiming to get the site ready as soon as possible.
With the high cost of local steelfixers, currently set at HK$1490 a day for 2013, and the continuing shortage of such workers, the construction industry has been scratching its head on how to get around this problem.
Thomas Ho On-sing, chief executive of Gammon Construction, said its joint venture project with Leighton Asia for the MTRC’s West Kowloon Terminus Station North for the Guangzhou-Hong Kong-Shenzhen Express Rail Link was already using offsite cut and bend.
“We’ve talked to the steel fixers. If we use cut and bend, we’ll save 40 percent of steel fixing manpower,” Ho said.
Off-site cut and bend would be carried out under proper factory conditions.
“Simple and convenient. It saves labour cost. All you need then is to fix it in place and it’s done,” Ho said.
While it was being used in Singapore, Australia and the UK, “Hong Kong still hasn’t done it”.