As one of PPC's five strategic pillars, innovation received significant focus in 2017. The implementation of PPC Innov8, a bestpractice web-based idea management system, was followed with various initiatives, known as challenges, on the Innov8 platform, to build depth and incorporate 'everyday innovation' into business processes.

Ideas submitted in response to the challenges focused on finding new solutions for specific business problems or site specific goals. The portfolio of opportunities or continuous improvement ideas is managed as a pipeline able to transform selected ideas into profit or organisational value. Innovation custodians and management teams across various operations manage formal review processes and site or challenge specific reward systems. Important principles guide the evaluation process to remove typical barriers to corporate innovation, ie single gatekeepers, lack of funding and inadequate feedback, and encourage a new way of thinking. The system also allows social participation, inclusiveness, collaboration and knowledge sharing.


To date we have collected 970 ideas in 14 challenges, of which 800 relate to operations and business processes. During the measurement process, we identified that the project implementation stage was not adequately managed and we have added an additional process stage to measure success metrics. To date, 36 ideas have been implemented, at a cost of R650 000 with an annual projected gross saving of R2,9 million. A further 106 ideas are currently in implementation stage.

Innovation metrics will be added to balanced scorecards as part of our performance management system. These will measure both input and output success factors to ensure sustainable innovation. Innovation will also be encouraged by incorporating the desired innovation leadership behaviours in PPC's values and behaviour descriptors.

PPC participated in the SA Innovation League to measure organisational readiness for innovation. This survey is a high-level assessment of an organisation's innovation capability in four key areas: leadership and ambition, organisation and collaboration, people and culture, and implementation and measurement. We achieved a notable fifth place among invited participants in South Africa. The assessment highlighted that PPC still has to extend implementation of structured and collaborative processes in subsidiary businesses and operations outside South Africa.

We will also extend our internal innovation focus to initiate closer collaboration with customers, suppliers and partners using a co-creation space. As an example, PPC Slurry sponsored and participated in the Mafikeng Innovation Hub Hackathon in September 2016, which promoted innovation awareness and building community partnerships.

The PPC Imaginarium continues to promote innovative design and application of cement and concrete. The Imaginarium was rated best strategic project and finalist (innovation) by Business Arts South Africa.

Innovation case studies

One of PPC’s five strategic pillars is innovation. Below are two ideas, submitted via the PPC Innov8 idea management system and successfully implemented. Thirty-six ideas were implemented, with a projected gross saving of R2,9 million.

Alternative fuel enhanced by heat exchanger

Hercules has been experimenting with alternative fuels over the last year to replace diesel in heating the vertical roller mill during operation. A company approached us with oil refined from used car oil as a cost-effective alternative to diesel. The flashpoint of this oil is, however, much higher than diesel, meaning it is more difficult to ignite and burn. To process this oil through our current equipment, we needed to find a way to lower the viscosity safely and cheaply. Johan Saunders expands "we decided to build a heat exchanger, which heats the oil to above its flashpoint so we don't have to mix it with paraffin to reduce the flashpoint. This is a huge cost saving compared to the delivered cost of diesel."

Implementation cost:
R150 000
Annual saving and/or benefit:
R600 000
Trevor thokolo
Repositioning piston stop improves safety

At the tippler, Trevor Thokolo noticed that the traverser piston stop was in the wrong position for longer-than-normal gypsum wagons. This could derail wagons, in turn leading to major equipment damage and process delays, particularly when the derailment has to be investigated by authorities. It also posed a safety threat to operators at the tippler. The first option was to position wagons manually which was effective, but time consuming, and decreased the efficiency of the tippler. Trevor worked with our engineering team to identify the correct place for the piston stop.

Implementation cost:
R2 000
Annual saving and/or benefit:
Derailment cost R300 000 with a 1% likelihood of occurring = R3 000
Improved safety and turnaround time when tipping gypsum