Keeping The Concrete And The Cash Flowing

More, better, faster. That's what Mexico's Cemex has been able to do with its cement and concrete deliveries since going digital. By using the Web and satellites, it needs fewer trucks to do more work. That has helped it maintain a net profit margin--17.6%--that leaves global competitors like Switzerland's Holderbank Cement & Beton and France's Lafarge in the dust. What's the formula? For starters, Chief Executive Lorenzo Zambrano linked delivery trucks to a global positioning satellite system so dispatchers could monitor their moves. Now Cemex can quickly steer trucks through traffic to construction sites, reducing average delivery windows from three hours to 20 minutes and trimming 20% off building times.

Zambrano is ready to cement his advantage with an even bolder plan. Starting in September, Cemex will sell cement on the Web. "You have to continuously find new ways to do things better," he says. The data gleaned from online orders will further speed delivery and trim inventories for distributors and customers. That's concrete action with concrete results.

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