Implementing Lean Construction in a South African Construction Company

Kurt F. Roelandt1

1Programme Manager, Aveng Limited (, Continuous Improvement Division,- Grinaker-LTA Office Park, Jurgens Street, Johannesburg, South Africa. Phone +27 11 578 6200, Fax +27 11 578 6388,


The Aveng Group, listed in South Africa, are active across Africa, Australasia, the Pacific Rim, the Asian sub-continent and the Middle East. The Group initiated an ambitious program to implement LEAN in their Operating Groups in the fall of 2006. The activities of The Aveng Group range from multi-disciplinary Construction, Manufacturing, Mining and Engineering as well as Management Services, with a total turnover of US$3.2 billion. In 2006 the Aveng Group embarked on an exercise to benchmark its organization versus best practices in the areas of Risk, Organisational Health, Talent Development, Procurement and Operational Efficiency. For each area a number of gaps versus world class standards were identified and an improvement program set up. To deal with the issues identified in the Operational Efficiency stream it was decided to embark on a Lean journey. The Roads & Earthworks (R&E) Business Unit within the Construction Operating Group was chosen as one of the units to initially pilot. The overall objective was to implement LEAN in this Business Unit using the Toyota Production System (TPS) as a benchmark to achieve the goals of Best Quality, Lowest Cost, Shortest Lead Time, Best Safety and Highest Morale. It was the first time in South Africa that LEAN would be implemented in the Construction sector. The paper will focus on the implementation of a number of basic tools and systems to achieve the foundations of the TPS which are: Visual Management and Levelled Production. The paper will give practical examples for each. The results of the first pilot sites – which show an average improvement of 2–3% EBIT - and the lessons learned are shared. The last part of the paper discusses the way forward based on lessons learned, i.e. the creation of a suitable project organization to combine planning, safety, quality and operational efficiency activities in one department




Roelandt, K.F. 2008, 'Implementing Lean Construction in a South African Construction Company' In:, Tzortzopoulos, P. & Kagioglou, M., 16th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Manchester, UK, 16-18 Jul 2008. pp 259-267

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