Using Lean Thinking to Shrink the Time Between Eruption and Recovery Using Volcanic Ash – Lean Enterprise Institute

On April 9, 2021, La Soufrière volcano erupted for the first time in 40 years on the island of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

SBP Director Andy Stofleth asked the question: What if the problem could be part of the solution? Perhaps SBP could use this ancient Roman process of using volcanic ash as building materials to rebuild the structures that the ash had damaged, saving significant disposal and building materials costs. This would also reduce the time and cost of trucking and shipping the ash away from the impacted communities.

Early testing determined that volcanic ash could replace up to 15% of the cement in the 1:5 cement ratio of traditional cinder blocks without any loss of strength. That means less cement is needed to be purchased and shipped overseas, significantly reducing the carbon footprint of their material. 

In October 2022, SBP began using a portable block-making machine and hiring local laborers from the impacted communities to produce concrete blocks near the ash collection sites. These blocks meet building code requirements, are more affordable, and are ultimately more carbon friendly. 

You can read the entire article at

You can also watch clips from a webinar with Andy on the LEI website:

Download the slides from his webinar here:

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