The demand for timber is increasing worldwide due to its critical role in the move towards net zero, with the World Bank estimating that global timber demand could increase fourfold by 2050. In light of the looming scarcity of this resource, it is imperative that downstream timber industries, including the production and installation of wooden doors and door frames, reduce wastage and inefficiencies in order to ensure the continued and sustainable development of these industries.
As representative of the downstream timber ecosystem in Malaysia, the Malaysian Wood Moulding and Joinery Council (MWMJC) is constantly exploring new ways of improving and helping to pave the way forwards for its members in the various timber subsectors. One of the ways it does so is by hosting and facilitating focus groups for each individual subsector, bringing together industry champions and key players to come to consensus on the common issues or concerns faced within the relevant subsectors, and to brainstorm and come up with industry-wide solutions.
Under the auspices of MWMJC , a focus group involving the wooden doors and door frames industry is poised to embark on several initiatives to boost the industry and its ecosystem. The focus group has formulated several actionable plans in the areas of specification standardisation and consistency, installation quality, and maintenance efficiency in line with green building requirements and to address high-rise building safety concerns. Industry players in the building and construction players are well advised to keep a close eye on the progress of these initiatives.
A recent focus group meeting brought together over 20 industry representatives in the wooden door and door frame subsector who came up with an action plan and proposals that were wide-ranging in their scope and may bring about significant impact to the building and construction ecosystem once implemented. Based on these proposals, MWMJC will move forward with discussions with relevant Government ministries, agencies, and other bodies on matters pertaining to competition in local and foreign markets, the supply of raw materials and manpower, cost containment, automation and other technologies related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0), and the establishment of standards for doors and door frames, amongst others.
MWMJC noted that in order to compete on a more level playing field both domestically and overseas, both policy and financial support from the Government would be necessary. This could be in terms of raising trade barriers towards imported doors while providing subsidies to exported doors and door frames, helping potential wooden door exporters explore non-alternative overseas markets such as the Middle East and Africa, as well as expediting export processes. MWMJC will be liaising with the appropriate bodies such as the Malaysian Timber Council and the Malaysian Timber Industry Board regarding these matters.
To improve productivity and optimise cost structures, as well as cope with ever-increasing labour costs, the industry will need to adopt automation and IR4.0-related technologies wherever possible. The Government could help with this capital expenditure.
The wooden door and door frame industry players also agreed there needed to be industry standards put in place that would benefit everybody. At present, common wooden internal doors remain hollow core, which necessitate frequent replacement and hence are costlier over time. Door and door frame sizes are not standard across the industry; hence, the need to conduct onsite measurements and the difficulty of mass-producing and replacing these doors. Lacklustre door installers compound the matter by causing damage to the doors prior to installation.
Agreeing on common door standards and specifications, e.g. sizes and thickness, will lead to time and cost savings across the board. By eliminating the need for site measurements and working to spec, manufacturers will be able to produce doors more quickly, efficiently, and economically, passing the savings on to customers, while builders will be able to simply order ‘off the shelf’ doors and property managers will also face simplified replacement processes. MWMJC believes that at a minimum, the Public Works Department (JKR) should agree to specifications for government projects (similar to what Singapore did with the HDB Door spec), and will work towards that goal.
Similarly, mandating the move from hollow core to honeycomb core or even solid core will not only help to optimise costs over the long term, but also lead to greater safety and security. Towards this end, MWMJC plans to liaise with not only JKR, but also the Malaysian Institute of Architects and the Master Builders Association Malaysia.
The industry will further look into training, upskilling, and certifying door installers, as this particular sort of craftsmanship is dying out or being passed on to migrant workers, who then strike out and command large pay for their work. This will help relieve the worries of builders who can now rest easier, assured of the quality and standard of the door installers’ workmanship. All of this will lead to the establishment of ‘best practices’ when it comes to the wooden door and door frame installation method statement.
MWMJC is also actively exploring the viability of industrial tree plantation with regard to the species of timber that are suitable for the manufacturing of wooden doors and door frames. In addition, the Council has been promoting the use of Building Information Modelling, as well as encouraging the uptake of ‘green’ certifications vis-à-vis the raw materials and manufacturing of wooden doors and door frames. This will lead to greater efficiencies, lower wastage, international regulatory compliance and harmonisation.
These are amongst some of the conclusions and proposed implementation steps that MWMJC and key wooden door and door frame industry players have jointly arrived at, which will have potentially far-reaching but ultimately beneficial outcomes for the building and construction industry. For more information on how MWMJC can keep companies apprised of the latest developments in the field, visit its website at https://www.mwmjc.my/ or call the Secretariat at +603-9283 7893.