The Construction Research Institute of Malaysia (CREAM) is a subsidiary company of Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) incorporated eight years ago to enhance the productivity and competitiveness for the construction industry through research & development (R&D) activities. CREAM disburses funds, manages and undertakes R&D projects with practical outcomes, including the promotion and commercialisation of their R&D products such as the Industrialized Building System (IBS) component and building materials, towards a green and sustainable construction industry.
To run CREAM activities it was essential that a specialised CREAM building was erected, to house CIDB's own subsidiaries including the IBS Centre, CIDB Convention Centre and Akademi Binaan Malaysia (ABM, Central Region), all of which provide one facet of R&D or another: to pool IBS know-how, to provide a venue where industry players congregate and share ideas, and to offer training for a skilled construction workforce. Another important entity occupying the building is Makmal Kerja Raya Malaysia (MKRM) - a full scale, heavy structural engineering laboratory in which CREAM's R&D activities could take place. Local experts Arkitek Nurcipta Sdn Bhd and Jurutera IRCE Sdn Bhd were thus commissioned to design and build this state of the art facility.
Situated at Jalan Chan Sow Lin, Cheras, the building is a large stand-alone establishment which itself is a green one being made primarily of steel, the construction material of choice when it comes to economically, environmentally and socially sustainable structures. While reinforced concrete (RC) has been used for its grade beams and slabs and Bondek WZ RC for other slabs, other structures within the building, as well as its curved rooftops, are made of steel. Construction of the handsome, rectangular building began in mid-2008 and was completed in March the following year.
Upon the installation and commissioning of the laboratory equipment that followed soon afterwards, CREAM's MKRM laboratory became fully operational in January 2010. The laboratory's provisions include a 15m by 26m reaction floor, a 6m by 6m reaction wall, 2000kN universal testing machine, 200kN dynamic testing machine, static actuators with a maximum capacity of 2000kN, a 300kN dynamic actuator and a concrete compression machine with a maximum capacity of 5000kN – all of which allows for various types of tests from basic small scale experiments to structural tests which could be performed on actual IBS structures, girders, bridges etc. With technical input from MIMOS it is also the first laboratory of its kind in the country to employ Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) that utilizes the internet in its concrete compression testing facilities.
Furthermore, in an effort to improve the quality of IBS construction systems manufactured locally and to provide local researchers and engineers assistance in assessing the performance and behaviour of structural components used in Malaysia's construction industry in a demanding, ever-changing era, CREAM, through MKRM which is also self-accrediting, provides specialised testing services, including calibration and durability tests as well as determining the dynamic strength properties of materials and components, and the testing of full scale structural components, which thus far is not available elsewhere. It also offers a Green Assessment System in Construction (GASSIC) to encourage the use of green systems and technology as well as sustainable materials in the industry, among other assessment systems they developed.
The IBS and Convention Centre as well as the Central Region ABM, likewise, are both a reflection and an effort of CREAM's aspiration to produce construction technologies and manpower that are exportable worldwide. They each are outfitted with the latest articles and facilities that aid in the process of construction development. On the whole, the CREAM building is a prime example of sustainable construction in itself – green and making green the construction industry, paving the way for local players to acquire the skills and technology in order to become sustainably productive and globally competitive.
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