ML Global to invest RM40 million in pre-cast panels plant

PETALING JAYA: ML Global Bhd, which expects to double its order book to RM2.04 billion, is planning to set up a plant to manufacture precast panels to reduce reliance on skilled labour.

Executive director and CEO Datuk Richard Lim Lit Chek said it is in the planning stage and expects to invest RM30 million to RM40 million in the first phase of the plant, which will enable it to produce some 2,000 apartment units next year.

“We will bring in technology from China; technology of constructing the panels and also how to install it on site. Hopefully next year we will see buildings coming up with pre-cast concrete panels,” he told reporters at its AGM yesterday.

“It is becoming more popular in Malaysia because labour is becoming more and more expensive, and it is also difficult to secure labour,” he added.

ML Global currently uses other types of Industrialised Building System (IBS) namely aluminium form works and steel form works. Of its 22 ongoing projects, more than 50% uses some form of IBS.

“Pre-cast concrete manufacturing is another type of IBS. It is time for Malaysia to adopt this technology. We build the concrete pieces, the wall, within a factory, ship it to the site and just assemble. We cut down a lot on labour and it is done within a factory environment so it is not affected by rain and quality can be controlled within the factory,” said Richard.

He said adopting precast concrete has to be done at the design stage, which is a challenge for some construction companies as the design is usually done before the tender process. However, ML Global’s advantage is it can participate in the design stage for the jobs that it gets from parent company LBS Bina Group Bhd.

For other projects, it aims to work with the developer or landowner as a turnkey contractor, which enables it to participate in the design and build of the project.

Richard said the plant will mainly supply precast panels for its own projects but did not discount the possibility of selling these panels to other construction companies in the future.

Group managing director Tan Sri Lim Hock San said adopting precast panels would also speed up the construction period and boost the company’s profit and revenue in a shorter time.

He said the outlook for ML Global this year is better, based on its order book of RM2.04 billion comprising RM1 billion worth of contracts in hand and letters of intent from LBS Bina comprising three projects worth RM1.04 billion in total. The projects will keep ML Global busy for three years.

Hock San said the company will work towards achieving better profit this year and will consider a dividend policy in the near future.