The goal of the Cement Trust is to create an appropriately scaled concrete production infrastructure in developing nations. This development initiative will reduce the risk from a natural disaster, while at the same time building local economic prosperity. The key to a successful implementation rests in decentralizing the concrete supply chain and increasing access to simple industrial technology at the local level. Without good cement-based products and construction practices near the building site, we will continue to see the waste of life and resources in these high risk regions.
A decentralized supply chain
For context – Consider that in the United States and other developed nations, the builders (both self-built and professional) have easy access to quality concrete that is produced with industrial technology. This “ready-mixed” concrete is produced by a business that takes on the responsibility of providing quality concrete mix at the job site. Over a period of time the supply chain for concrete in the US decentralized and provided easy access to good concrete. In the US the average distance to job site from someone with this large-scale industrial technology (transit-mix trucks) is about 14-miles. Because wet concrete has a short “shelf-life” before it hardens, it is critical that a decentralized system be applied to concrete production. This is why a local supply chain is a very important part of the construction infrastructure in every region of the world.
Cement powder manufacturing
Cement powder is really the only concrete component that is produced and shipped from a significant distance. Because of the enormous investment to mine and manufacturer Portland cement, the production of this concrete component is more centralized. Even so, large multinational cement manufacturers do a good job of local distribution in most places.
Inadequate supply chains
The challenge for developing nations is that they have inadequate local concrete supply systems. These regions lack the production technology necessary to produce quality concrete, especially at the building site.
Mining the aggregate, processing sand and gravel and mixing concrete are accomplished with little or no industrial technology (unless you consider a shovel an industrial tool). Without access to the appropriately scaled industrial tools for processing concrete they produce a very inferior product for their construction. Without a better supply system, the vulnerable populations will always live with a greater risk from falling buildings.
The concrete production infrastructure that makes developed nations so safe during disasters is nearly non-existent in poorer nations, so deploying good tools and establishing local concrete enterprises will go a long way in reducing disaster risks.
.Call to action
The manufacturers and concrete experts from the developed nations should feel embarrassed by the failure of our concrete supply systems to address this critical issue. How bad is it? The International Development Bank suggests that 87% of Colombia’s GDP is a risk because of poor construction, and we all remember the 2010 Haiti earthquake with its deadly demonstration of bad concrete construction.
It is time that the concrete industry joins in an effort to put trust back into cement-based construction materials and practices. Together we can incrementally assist in the development of a decentralized system that provides economic opportunities for those at the bottom of the economic pyramid. We can design and deploy tools that will work in places like Haiti and Colombia to make people safer.
We ask you to reach out to the Cement Trust and participate in this effort. Contribute whatever resource, expertise or effort that you can muster to make a difference.