Singapore is a very clean city. Our reporters did not see any garbage or cigarette ends on the subway or on the streets. To make sure Singapore stays that clean, there are relatively strict regulations for the construction industry. For that reason, after big earthworks, the wheel cases are cleaned before driving back onto public streets. Furthermore, practically all loaded tipper trucks may only be driven with covering to make sure no dirt finds its way onto the streets. Since adjusting a covering sheet would take too much time, the trucks in Singapore are equipped with covering that can be folded away electronically.
Singapore: Patrick Ng carries out public construction work in his Actros
Economics & Logistics
Singapore expects to have just under 1.4 million additional residents by 2030. For this reason, the city state is investing heavily in land reclamation and upgrading its infrastructure. This means full order books for the civil engineering specialists from Huationg Global Limited.
In Singapore, vacant land is more precious than gold. Even though this nation of just under 5.5 million inhabitants is one of the countries with the highest degree of urbanisation, more than half of the city state is still covered in lush vegetation. Spacious parklands and the occasional bit of primeval jungle offer habitats for colourful flora and fauna, as well as green spaces for stressed city dwellers to relax in. And Singapore wants things to stay that way. Singapore’s growth comes mostly by way of land reclamation – by filling in coastal areas in particular. Since the 1960s, the Southeast Asian state has increased its land area from around 580 square kilometres to almost 720 square kilometres in this way. The authorities expect the number of inhabitants to grow to 6.9 million by 2030. Large-scale public projects are intended to counter the looming threats of land scarcity and traffic chaos. For this reason, Patrick Ng from Huationg Global Limited is not exactly short of orders.
“In our business, downtime costs a great deal of money. This is a particularly critical factor in public-sector projects, where budgets are often calculated with very tight margins”
– Patrick Ng, CEO & Executive Director, Huationg Global Ltd., Singapore
The 42-year-old has been the CEO and Executive Director of one of Singapore’s biggest construction companies since 1999. “My father established the company in 1983 as a small subcontractor for earthworks. Today our family business is one of the top five service providers in the public construction sector,” says Patrick Ng. Over the intervening years, Huationg Global Limited has turned numerous key projects into reality. They include the Downtown and Circle subway lines, the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE), and the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE). Patrick Ng and his crew are also experts in land reclamation and soil consolidation. The world-renowned Marina Bay Sands Hotel, for example, was built on foundations established by Huationg Global Limited. The three 55-storey hotel towers were completed in 2010. They have since become one of Singapore’s signature landmarks, featuring a 340-metre long roof garden, some 191 metres above ground level. The building costs amounted to around eight billion Singapore dollars – or about 4.6 billion euros at the time.
Government-sponsored building boom.
Huationg Global Limited, with a workforce of over 850 employees, offers an extensive range of civil engineering services: in addition to conventional earthworks involving volumes of between 500 000 and one million cubic metres on average, the portfolio also includes demolition and drainage work as well as formwork and concrete construction. “In the financial year 2016, we turned over around 90 million Singapore dollars (around 56 million euros) in public-sector construction projects. This amounts to just under 80 per cent of our entire sales. Our principal customers are the Housing and Development Board (HDB) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA),” says Patrick Ng. “The government’s infrastructure planning will ensure many more orders in the years to come. As soon as one project is completed, the next project is already moving to the construction phase.”
One of the largest construction sites of Huationg Global Limited is the extension of Changi Airport. Changi is one of the key aviation hubs in Southeast Asia. More than three billion people live within a radius of only seven hours’ flight time. As the airport’s current capacity will not be able to cope with the continuing increase in passenger numbers, work is under way to more than double it by 2025 – from 66 million today to around 135 million passengers per year. It is already one of the key airports in the world, with around 100 airlines providing connections to a total of 200 cities in 68 countries.
“The land for the expansion of the airport was reclaimed from the sea – which is how it is usually done in Singapore. We compact the soil and prepare it for the construction of new terminal buildings and shopping centres,” explains Patrick Ng, who holds a degree in civil engineering from the University of London. “The soil we need to do this is removed from hills in the city centre, for example.”
To complete this and other projects safely and on time, Huationg Global Limited increasingly relies on trucks made by Mercedes-Benz. Not only do more than 100 Actros 3336 tipper trucks proudly bear the star – so do many concrete pumps and concrete mixers. “In our business, downtime costs a great deal of money. This is a particularly critical factor in public-sector projects, where budgets are often calculated with very tight margins. After all, we are using our citizens’ money in our construction projects, which means that when it comes to making a decision in terms of choosing vehicles and construction equipment, we always ask: ‘Which manufacturer is the best in class?’ The answer is inevitably Mercedes-Benz,” says Patrick Ng.
“The vehicles with the star are very robust and reliable. This minimises downtime and cuts costs. In addition, the driver’s cabs are very comfortable and ergonomic compared to those made by the direct competitors.” For the CEO, this represents a competitive advantage that is not to be underestimated: “The cockpits provide the drivers with a comfortable workplace, and this in turn strengthens their loyalty to our company. This is essential in our business. After more than 14 years in the industry, one of his key insights is this: contented and experienced employees are the key to success.”
Photos: Rory Daniel, Alexander Tempel
Video: Alexander Tempel