Monday, August 10, 2009
The supply chain of marble
Fresh back from vacation with a new supply chain story for you. As per my last post I took holiday in Tuscany, Italy. While I certainly took the chance to visit the vineyards I also squeezed in a side trip to Carrara, Italy, which as anyone in the area will tell you is world famous for it's marble.
While it seems pretty obvious, the supply chain to bring this rock to your kitchen table or bathroom floor is impressive to see up close simply due to the sheer size of it all. I found it also very strange to see these perfect geometric shapes being cut right on the side of the mountain. But that is really how they do it.
A massive chain saw cuts through the rock into various shapes and sizes depending on the client. They are then transported onto flatbed trucks and driven across this bridge (see photo below). From a distance wood is used to space out the marble slates to provide a little cushion for travel. From there it would only make sense to use boats to ship the marble worldwide, the weight doesn't make air an option.
There is also certainly a lot of waste with tons of rock crumbling to the ground throughout the time I was there. Several trucks do collect them and I can only assume sell them to artists who can carve small objects.
But I'll let these photos do the talking. You can't get a better example of an end to end supply chain, as there are really limited manufacturing costs. Most of the costs I would guess come from logistics, since the weight and volume are off the charts.