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Improving productivity of road surfacing operations using value stream mapping and discrete event simulation

Zeeshan Aziz (School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK)
Rana Muhammad Qasim (School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK)
Sahawneh Wajdi (School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK)

Construction Innovation

ISSN: 1471-4175

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the integration of discrete event simulation (DES) and value stream mapping (VSM) to enhance the productivity of road surfacing operations by achieving high production rates and minimum road closure times. Highway infrastructure is one of the most valuable assets owned by the public sector. The success of national and local economies as well as quality of life of the general public depend on the efficient operations of highways. Ensuring smooth traffic operations requires maintenance and improvements of the highest standard.


Research approach involved the use of primary data collected from direct observation, interviews, review of archival records and productivity databases. Based on this, process maps and value stream maps were developed which were subsequently used to produce discrete event simulation models for the exploration of different optimisation scenarios.


This research highlights the synergistic relationship between VSM and DES in driving innovation in construction processes. Identified factors that affect roadworks process productivity include machine, manpower, material, information, environment and method-related factors. A DES model is presented to optimise the process and increase the production rates. A hybrid DES-VSM approach ensures an integrated approach to process optimisation.

Research limitations/implications

This study is an application of hybrid version of previously published DES-VSM framework in the manufacturing sector. The present study has extended and tested its applicability within road surfacing operations. The different what-if scenarios presented in this paper might not be applicable to other parts of the world owing to various constraints. The study has focused on addressing the waste production inherent in pavement laying process. Even though external variables could possibly influence pavement process, those were ignored to allow for in-depth focus on the process under consideration.

Practical implications

Road users are one of the most important stakeholders that will benefit from the positive implications of this study. Private resurfacing companies and transport departments can optimise their overall process and style of working by comparing their end-to-end process and work plans with the ones mentioned in this paper. It will boost the productivity of equipment like planners, pavers and other machines used for resurfacing operations.


Existing approaches to process modelling such as VSM and process diagrams are constrained by their effectiveness in the analysis of dynamic and complex processes. This study presents a DES-based approach to validate targeted improvements of the current state of road surfacing processes and in exploration of different optimisation scenarios.



Aziz, Z., Qasim, R.M. and Wajdi, S. (2017), "Improving productivity of road surfacing operations using value stream mapping and discrete event simulation", Construction Innovation, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 294-323.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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