Concrete solutions for global supply chains

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Working concrete supply chains provide jobs, wealth and stronger infrastructure. The developing nations of the world need working concrete supply systems to compete in world trade and to raise economic strength.
International development is missing the foundation of successful nation building if they are not focusing on improving concrete supply.

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Concrete solutions for global supply chains

  1. 1. Concrete solutions for global supply chainsConcrete is the second most utilized resource in theworld, next to water. Yet it remains underappreciatedwithin the ranks of economic development initiatives.Concrete forms the foundation for critical infrastructureon every continent. Global supply chains for concreteproduction are a vast economic engine that produces millions of skilled and low-skilled jobs and supports much of the world’s wealth. Unfortunately there is ahuge disparity in concrete production capabilities between industrialized anddeveloping nations. This gap can be reduced by 2025 with the addition ofappropriately scaled technology and incremental support from more advancedsupply chain partners.For any developing country to become competitive in global trade, it must firstdevelop the essential infrastructure on which to build success. Sufficient andreliable supplies of both water and electricity are essential to economic growth.A satisfactory infrastructure of roads, bridges, ports and airports is necessary tobecome a participant in world markets. Without strengthening these projects atthe foundational level, other development challenges cannot effectively beaddressed.Infrastructure is dependent upon one commodity more than any other –concrete - along with its supporting supply chain. Without a reliable supply ofconsistent quality concrete, roads, bridges and airports are not sustainable.Water and electrical projects fail prematurely without concrete to increaseservice life. Buildings depend upon solid foundations built with quality concreteto withstand disasters. Homes, particularly in developing nations, rely onconcrete and concrete block to shelter families. Without dependable concrete therisk of construction failure increases and the world’s poor are impacted at manylevels. A broken concrete supply chain is a hidden contributor to economicdepravity within the countries we target for development assistance. Expandingthe supply chain to include developing nations will yield increased trade, raisewages and will lower the losses that continue to tax the world’s resources.We have all seen the devastation thatoccurs when structures are built usingsub-standard concrete. The story of aquarter million people dead from arelatively modest 2010 earthquake inHaiti is the story of failed buildingscollapsing on people – buildings that fellbecause of a failed concrete supplychain. Billions of dollars in infrastructure
  2. 2. was lost or damaged needlessly due to the lack of good concrete practices. Thisimpacts the regions scarce commodities and requires that additional billions bespent in rebuilding the country. If Haiti’s concrete would have been sustainable,these losses would have been minimal.If you want a vivid example of the importance of a solid concrete supply chain,compare the rebuilding activities after the Haiti Earthquake with Japan’sEarthquake and Tsunami of 2011. By most estimates, within less than 9 monthsof the Tsunami in Japan, a large percentage of the damaged structures havebeen repaired. By contrast, in Haiti, after two years only about 5% of the debrishas been removed and few permanent replacements have been built. These twoevents highlight the supply disparities between industrialized Japan and adeveloping country like Haiti.Why the huge difference? There are many reasons, including Haiti’sdysfunctional government, a culture of corruption, and a vast population of poor.It could be argued, however, that Japan’s excellent supply chain for concrete isthe most significant reason. First, buildings, roads, dams, port structures andbridges were built with quality concrete, the product of a functional and well-dispersed supply system. Japan’s lesser damaged structures were easier to repairthan in Haiti where their poorly supplied concrete structures required completeremoval and replacement. Over time Japan has built their sustainableinfrastructure to mitigate risk, while Haiti just builds anyway that they can. Second, it took little time to get the concrete supply chain up and running again to produce the materials needed to repair the infrastructure of Japan. This functioning concrete system provides a burgeoning job market, business opportunities, rising wages and supports a middle-class.In Haiti, with only a couple of functioning concrete production companies, findingquality concrete and a job are major problems. The lack of capacity isexacerbated by poor sand and gravel resources, a lack of quality controlprocedures, transportation restrictions and inadequate engineering. Withoutaccess to the appropriate concrete technology and supply systems, developingcountries like Haiti will continue to build haphazardly. Spent resources will againreturn to rubble and the poor will continue to loose the three benefits of aworking concrete supply chain – wages, homes and personal safety.Within industrialized countries, quality concrete is available from thousands ofconcrete production facilities located in almost every community. In developing
  3. 3. nations, people resort to mixing concrete on the ground using only shovels, aprocess that is a proven failure. The resultingshovel-mix generally has too much water,incorrect amounts of sand, rock and cement,and is poorly blended. As has been seen inHaiti, Pakistan and elsewhere, poor qualityconcrete cannot withstand even a moderateearthquake and results in massive rescue andforeign aid efforts.Imagine the impact on economic opportunity and personal safety within thesedeveloping nations as we help them develop better concrete supply systems.We can envision a 2025 that will find an empowered workforce with thetechnology to manufacture quality concrete. In that time we will find thousands of local trading partners within a functioning concrete supply chain. In the future there will be new infrastructure projects using more sustainable processes. We will find rising wages and a growing middle class. 2025 will find developing nations with the solid foundation upon which to build their opportunities in the broader supply chains of the world. Industrialized concrete supply systems from around the world have the skills and technology to share these opportunities with those whomust improve their own systems. They only need the motivation to join in theeffort. This longstanding challenge to sustainable development will dissolve awayas we focus on applying transformational approaches and solutions to the worldspoorest concrete supply chains. These are the concrete solutions that are neededfor global economic health. Prepared by Bruce Christensen • Director with CementTrust • General Manager of Cart-Away 1405 NE Alpha Dr. McMinnville, Oregon 97128 bc@cart-away.com 503-434-4444 www.cementtrust.wordpress.com

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