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The last mile of the concrete supply chain

Cart-Away takes the last mile seriously

The concrete supply chain begins with gathering billions of grains of sand and ends with ready-mix flowing into a form. It starts with mining and ends with the rock-solid foundation of the built world.

Each ingredient in the ready-mix drum travels different paths to eventually meet in the mixer. Aggregates travel down a road that starts at the mine and ends in the material bunker. Portland Cement travels from mine to kiln and eventually to the silo. Water starts at the mountain stream and ends at the end of a nozzle.  

Dozens of mechanical and technical systems push each of these players down the chain to finally meet at the ready-mix production facility.  Thousands of commercial enterprises and workers share in the effort to move materials to the batching plant. Million of miles are logged to get the supplies to production.  Cart-Away is proud to take this critical product the last mile of its journey to the job site.

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The “Last mile” is a widely used phrase denoting the final step in the context of supply chain: It is the delivery of a product or service to the destination or end user. Transit-mix trucks and Cart-Away trailers are the main participants in the final step of the concrete supply chain.

The latest report on the ready-mix supply chain indicates that 400-million cubic yards were delivered in 2021. It took over 47-million trips in big trucks and smaller trailers to move that concrete the last mile of the chain. These deliveries from plant to project were mostly driven by truck. There is an estimated 67,000 of these mixing trucks pushing the wet product the last mile of the process.

Cart-Away mixing trailers move ready-mix on the same roads as the big trucks, only at a different scale.  Construction projects that need concrete can range from a sidewalk patch to a skyscraper foundation. Cart-Away is for small project delivery.  The providers of the last mile of delivery need to fit the scale of the project, and Cart-Away is designed for the jobs that are under 4 cubic yards.  The problem is that sometimes the last mile is the most damaging to our built environment.

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1-yard concrete mixer for sidewalksThere are plenty of arguments as to the environmental impact of mining and cement production on the planet.  The facts remain that concrete is the most consumed product of the built environment and its supply chain will remain critical to modern society. At Cart-Away we only focus on what we can do to reduce the impact that delivery might have on the world’s built assets. We know that heavy trucking hurts our finished neighborhoods when they don’t need too. A sidewalk, driveway or lawn will not withstand the crushing weight of a large ready-mix truck delivery. The compacted base of a cul-de-sac street was not engineered for the repeated travel of a 60,000 pound delivery vehicle.

We ask- Why send a heavy truck to pour the spa pad when a light delivery trailer could do the job? The standard home improvement or sidewalk repair project needs a small amount of concrete, so a 7,000 pound delivery is better than one with 10-times the weight. There are about 4,000 Cart-Away delivery trailers in operation around the country. At Cart-Away we take the last mile seriously and feel that each community needs a way to save their infrastructure from damage with this service.