Building industry working to change ‘Made in China’ view
Building industry working hard to change ‘Made in China’ perception
Conference panel discusses ways to solve housing crisis at NZ International Building Expo & Summit
Prominent speakers at a recent conference in Auckland revealed that Kiwi perceptions of ‘Made In China’ need to change to address New Zealand’s housing crisis and enable more prefabricated and modular homes to be built offshore to meet local demand.
The third annual NZ
International Building Expo & Summit, which was put on
by the New Zealand Chinese Building Industry Association
(NZCBIA) to grow ties between the New Zealand and Chinese
construction sectors, held a panel session with five leading
CEO, Prefab NZ John Dalzell
MD, Silk Road Management Nicholas Caulton
GHD Hamish Davies
(MC) GHD Jeff Fahrensohn
The session revealed three ways to change the perception of ‘Made in China’:
1. Consumer perceptions can change through only bringing in the best quality
The panel discussed ‘Made in China’ fears relating to perceptions of poor materials quality, poor documentation and steel - asking why, if ‘Made in China’ is not a problem in the automotive or technology sectors, how can we change perceptions for housing.
Frank Xu, the driving force behind NZIBES and the President of the New Zealand Chinese Building Industry Association (NZCBIA) and Deputy General Manager & Executive Project Manager of Shundi Group, subsequently said that one way to ensure the perception changes is through permitting only the best products into New Zealand.
“NZCBIA members have strict criteria. The majority of Chinese building practitioners can’t join us because the quality benchmark is too high, so we are only representing the best. The conference and expo is a platform to bring the New Zealand and Chinese building industries together. We are trying to address the key challenges of the industry, trying to use the event as a platform to examine potential solutions. We want to generate discussion and spark between the whole industry. NZCBIA is across the whole supply chain – developers, designers, and construction companies. We bring them all together to find out their views on key challenges and all together come up with better solutions.”
2. Customising modular product for New Zealand conditions
John Dalzell said that our perception of China does not have much to do with reality, and that China provides a whole new dimension of opportunity. The former CEO of Waterfront Auckland, and one of three Independent Directors for the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) New Zealand Limited, Dalzell said that if our ideas about modular building and achieving sector scale can evolve, our ability to build more houses and solve our housing affordability challenges will be enhanced.
“New Zealand is ready for modular buildings, but the New Zealand public needs to really understand what we mean by it. There is still some way to go before New Zealand is more accepting of this form of construction.
He says that if we can change perceptions, Chinese and New Zealand companies can do more together. “We need to push back perceptions. If you look at what is good process in terms of manufactured construction around the world, we could pick up aspects of what they are doing – and their documents and processes – and customise something appropriate for New Zealand.
“We have to see and understand what others are doing and adapt that to New Zealand conditions. There no reason why we can’t innovate in our own way. Bringing in new ideas, adapting them, and innovating. But we have got to get out of seats and have a look at what’s out there. Staying at home is not going to re-set the dial.”
“The challenge for existing players here in New Zealand is about increasing capacity. For the foreseeable future we need to add an additional 20,000 residential units per annum. We’re probably only doing half of that. There’s a real role for modular construction here, but we need smarter procurement that can be used much more strategically to pre-qualify parties and quickly choose two or three parties to price jobs on an outcomes basis, not to reference designs produced by consultants who frequently are not versed in the practicalities of constructability or completely up with the latest innovations.”
3. Understanding supply chain challenges at the manufacturing stage
The panel described the importance of ensuring that all boxes are ticked across the whole supply chain before materials get onto Auckland sites. The main concern is that products or panels made in China need to be completely correct before being shipped to NZ. Fire, acoustics, and electrical matters all need to be fixed ahead of time from an engineering perspective, as you can’t just move a smoke alarm point, or put a pipe through a fire wall and think it will be ok.