Big concrete projects require a working supply chain

Haiti has a big concrete project ahead, but a broken supply chain

Today marks the opening of the Jiaozhou Bay bridge that spans the waters between China’s eastern port city of Qingdao and the island of Huangdao.
Concrete bridge in China built with a working concrete supply chain
The Jiaozhou Bay bridge is 26.4 miles long and is supported by more than 5000 concrete piers and a 110-foot-wide concrete deck. In four years the construction crew poured just over 81 million cubic yards of concrete. Think of this as filling swimming pools. The Chinese concrete supply chain was asked to fill 3800 Olympic sized pools, or about three a day!

There are no plans for Haiti to build a fancy bridge between the mainland and island of La Gonave. Even if that was suggested, Haiti wouldn’t have the supply chain to even get a few hundred feet from the harbor. The fact is that Haiti doesn’t need the concrete supply chain the scale of this Chinese bridge project. But they still need a massive amount of concrete to rebuild a better and safer future.

Haiti needs concrete for thousands of small projects scattered all across the country. But even the smallest projects are the victims of a failed concrete supply system. A system that can’t be trusted to make a product of good enough quality to hold up a modest home, never mind a massive bridge.

As we admire the engineering and construction accomplishments represented by the Jiaozhou Bay bridge. This project should inspire us to redouble our efforts in seeing that places like Haiti find the tools, training and funding for a better concrete supply chain.

Otherwise… The dream of building back a better Haiti will be a bridge to nowhere.


About cementtrust

I am a director with Cement Trust and passionate about improving cement-based production in the poorest nations of the world.
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5 Responses to Big concrete projects require a working supply chain

  1. Anonymous says:

    What about steel and ribbed (deformed) rebar necessary to make reinforced concrete? In this article there was no mention of steel or rebar or even post tension cables to make reinforced concrete.

    Using a heavy brittle material that shatters requires engineering and reinforcing materials. If you read earth quake survey reports, a phrase you often come across describing failed structures is, “unengineered structures.” Reinforced concrete also needs to be engineered by people who understand its flaws in order to be strong.

    Perhaps setting up engineering schools in Haiti before the cement plants would be best.

    • cementtrust says:

      You are absolutely correct in suggesting that reinforcement is critical to the success of structural concrete projects. The need for good engineering and adequate steel is what will make concrete buildings more disaster resistant. At Cement Trust we view concrete engineering and structural design very important players in a working concrete supply chain.
      Helping to train engineers is important and we are happy to know that there are several organizations working on establishing engineering training programs in Haiti. Our expertise is in coordinating the development of the other links in the supply chain, like aggregate and ready-mixed concrete production. Until all of the supply system is improved, we will continue to have difficulties with cement-based building systems in under-developed nations.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Also, there has to be availability and use of the reinforcing materials or over head concrete structures should not be built.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Non-brittle materials include wood, bamboo, metal and steel.

    • cementtrust says:

      All of the materials that you mention are options, but it is concrete and other cement-based construction materials that are used by the majority of disadvantaged home-builders. Concrete is locally sourced and easy to work with for the majority of these builders, so our efforts should be on improving the quality of concrete. Even wooden and steel structures use concrete for a foundation.

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