On 14th June 2019, Kolej Laila Taib’s Civil Engineering (CE) and Quantity Surveying (QS) departments organized an educational visit to a shipbuilding company named Sky-E Marine Sdn. Bhd. The visitation group consisted of 6 lecturers and 24 students.
The visit started with an introduction by the Sky-E Marine Sdn. Bhd’s director, Mr. Choi Man Siew and MS Ship Design Company’s director, the Naval Architect, Mr Sia Kee Ho. Mr. Choi first led us to the workshop which is equipped with plenty of computerized machineries. As informed, in old days, those steel materials were measured and cut manually by the labors, and nowadays majority have been replaced with computerized system, thus saving much more energy, cost and time.
Mr. Choi added the Malaysian shipbuilding and ship repair industry was mainly driven by local players with the capabilities to cater for the naval and commercial sectors. Currently there are more than 100 shipyards in Malaysia with majority of them in Sabah and Sarawak. He detailed that Sibu is the main shipbuilding hub with a total around 50 shipyards, whereby majority are actually family-owned businesses. Along Rantau Panjang, Sibu, there are 17 shipbuilding companies.
The following session was briefed by Mr. Sia pertaining to the role of Naval Architect in ship design industry. He elaborated that Naval Architect is actually dealing with the advanced software which manages to design the ship in 2D and 3D dimensions. Not only drawing features are available in the software, but there is also a vast amount of features that allow for the calculation of materials, centre of gravity etc.
The students asked about the prospect of working as a civil engineer or quantity surveyor in his company and whether specific requirement or skill is needed. Astonishingly the answer given by Mr. Sia was out of expectation as he emphasized that knowledge is important, but the attitude and willingness to learn are the key qualities he is looking for. The point was fully seconded by the lecturers. Students were also being offered the chances to complete their internship in his company, provided that they fulfil the criteria stated earlier.
Mr. Choi brought students around at the shipyard and introduced the ships they are currently building. Amongst the 17 shipyards at Rantau Panjang, the largest ship is now under their construction. To date, the techniques used for shipbuilding industry are mostly conventional. Owing to the Australian clients’ requirements, Sky-E Marine Sdn. Bhd. enforced special quality assurance and quality control in their shipbuilding processes. Their low shipbuilding cost and flexibility in collaborating with the foreign clients and the have made them the top priority shipbuilder by the foreign clients.
Civil engineering is using Eurocode as a guideline for construction purposes. Likewise, shipbuilding industry has its own guideline set by International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) for references. Mr. Tan Hok Yeng, the general manager of ClassNK SIBU-LAR, explained to the students that the objective of ship classification is to verify the structural strength and integrity of essential parts of the ship’s hull and its appendages, and the reliability and function of the propulsion and steering systems, power generation and those other features and auxiliary systems which have been built into the ship in order to maintain essential services on board.
With a great pleasure, the site visitation was ended with a tour to the largest ship at the shipyard. Students were all startled by the incredible skills of building up such a magnificent ship on land. The “WOW” sounds could be heard around when the students stood at the top of the ship. It was a fantastic experience for KLT’s lecturers and students to have themselves exposed to the shipbuilding industry. All the credit should go to Sky-E Marine Sdn. Bhd. for the very kind and warm hospitality for the site visitation.