Sonicon Construction Sdn Bhd, a leading Malaysian concrete construction service provider, is excited to announce its new partnership with Xradar, Canada’s leading provider of ground penetrating radar (GPR) technology, which will provide scanning services. As a result of the collaboration, Xradar Asia Sdn Bhd was formed, with the goal of becoming one of the region’s leading service providers in the field of construction engineering, ensuring that all projects are completed to meet or exceed expectations while adhering to all safety standards and regulations.

Xradar Asia combines cutting-edge technology with Sonicon’s local industry expertise. The Malaysian firm has collaborated on numerous projects involving Pavillion Bukit Jalil, Sunway Pyramid, Menara Etiqa, KL Eco City, and the MRT2, as well as Xradar’s revolutionary technology for the Malaysian and Singaporean market.

To find out more about the new company and their push towards a strong focus on technology, we speak to Guan Han Tan, the Founder and Managing Director of Sonicon Construction. He has been involved in construction for years, utilizing modern robotics and equipment to enhance productivity and cost efficiency. He established Sonicon Construction in 2015, and has helped it become the fastest-growing concrete cutting contractor in Malaysia.

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Over the last decade, the construction industry has been rated as the riskiest in Malaysia, with the highest rate of fatal accidents among all industries. The collaboration hopes to address the issue by introducing a higher engineering scanning standard to the construction industry and assisting contractors, consultants, and building owners in reducing the time and costs associated with an external survey, as well as managing their projects as efficiently and effectively as possible without compromising the integrity of their safety management.

Congrats on this partnership and setting up Xradar Asia. Could you share how this partnership works?

Thank you. We have been conducting Concrete Scanning since 2018 when it started as a hobby project, so it is during that time that we realize the limitations on the extent of what can be provided as we lack the know-how, the software, and the equipment. We then found them through Instagram, and it is obvious from the way the markings were presented, Xradar is able to detect different layers of objects, the orientation of the objects, the ability to differentiate one object from another, and many more. Therefore, we contacted them and have been in communication since 2020.

Sonicon Construction partners with Xradar to create Xradar Asia Sdn Bhd to benefit the construction industry in Southeast Asia

Could you explain the current landscape when it comes to construction issues in Malaysia?

We come from the background of Concrete Cutting and Coring (Controlled Demolition Works), where we observe important reinforcements being cut/damaged. It may look fine for now, but how can anyone guarantee it is going to be fine for the next 10 or 20 years? We have also observed non-compliance issues when it comes to actual work versus design, and we aspire to prevent all these from happening for the safety of a building.

How does the scanning technology work and what are the real benefits for developers?

Xradar is a combination of the right usage of equipment, software, extensive training, and know-how to approach different projects. The core technology used is Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), which sends a signal into the concrete and deflects it back to be shown and analysed.

Existing buildings will have upgrades and renovations, shopping malls/commercial units will have new tenants move in from time to time, and there will be drilling, coring, cutting, and hacking. How do you prevent damaging reinforcements or important cables or pipes?

Damaging the reinforcement, or worse, the post-tension cables, will affect the strength of the concrete structure. If you continue to damage all important structures, they may lose strength, resulting in cracks or, in the worst-case scenario, collapse.

Xradar can map it out to pinpoint accurately where the important reinforcements are. The small case is that damaged electrical cables cause building losses that must be rectified; the worst case is that the driller is electrocuted and dies on site – mapping it out can prevent this from happening.

Malaysia is a humid country, so it is best if buildings are inspected from time to time. The majority of it is “visual inspection,” checking for possible cracks, water leakage, and so on. But what about what is going on within the concrete that no one is aware of (such as corrosion, delamination, or voids), and when it occurs, it may be costly or too late? This is why early detection can prevent things from happening.

During new construction, there may be a compliance issue where reinforcement is not provided up to specs or does not follow the design. If the real work does not follow the design, the calculation will not be the same as the exact situation.

Do you see any opportunities in other markets in the region? Which ones and why?

As the name suggests, at Xradar Asia, our goal is to expand into Southeast Asia first, before moving into the rest of Asia. From our preliminary study, we found that the knowledge of how to conduct a proper concrete scan in SEA (not just Malaysia!) is still very limited, and we aspire to change that so that clients will receive quality data with high accuracy so that they can make sound decisions on what to do next.

What’s next for Xradar Asia Sdn Bhd?

Before expanding to SEA, I would like to establish a strong foothold in my home country and train more professionals to be able to deliver quality data and work to clients. At the same time, a lot of education has to be done through different channels for the developers, consultants, contractors, and facility managers to boost their confidence towards this technology.