Safety-First: Reimagining the Transport of Hazardous Materials on Indian Roadways



The chemical industry in India has continued to be a consistent value creator even in the most uncertain times. As the sixth largest globally, it is diversified with over 80,000 commercial products including incredibly hazardous material that is inflammable, poisonous, and radioactive.1 Transportation remains an essential part of the chemical supply chain, 57% of which happens via roads.2

Chemical leaks, oil spills, fires, explosions, and toxic pollution during the transport of hazardous materials—or ‘HAZMAT’—can be dangerous for human life and have a lasting impact on the environment. And, major hazardous chemical accidents in India occur during transport.3 There are multiple factors at play here, from inadequate storage, mechanical failures, and improper handling to lack of training, collisions, poor conditions of vehicles, and non-compliance with regulations. A study has also found that a bulk of HAZMAT mishaps occur due to driver negligence4 (see chart below).

This high incidence has triggered the shift to solutions that ensure adequate and timely risk identification, route optimization, and network design, among others.5

The Need of the Hour Is an Advanced Technology-driven Intervention…

…for the HAZMAT transportation industry that leverages the power of data to integrate the above-mentioned capabilities effectively and enable real-time preventive safety. A solution that is adaptable, reliable, sustainable in the longer term, and attuned to the unique conditions of Indian roadways. And, now with the Internet of Things (IoT) has made deep inroads into the Indian digital landscape, supported by widespread connectivity and the maturation of artificial intelligence (AI), the stage is already set for a more advanced approach to HAZMAT transport.

Enabling Digital Future Needs of Hazmat Fleets with Intel

With the aim to improve safety and operational efficiency, Intel has inked an MOU with the Indian Chemical Council (ICC)—the apex body for the country’s approximately USD 200 billion chemicals industry. This has also strengthened their joint commitment to leveraging technology in eliminating accidents during HAZMAT transport.

To align with global standards, infrastructure and services for safe and secure transportation, ICC has launched a sustainability initiative called ‘Nicer Globe’. To enable this vision, Intel aims to help equip HAZMAT fleets with cutting-edge Intel® Onboard Fleet Services. This comprehensive solution integrates advanced technologies from Mobileye, Cipia Vision, and Intangles Lab Pvt. Ltd. to address 5 key areas that together deliver holistic fleet safety:

  • Collision avoidance: Real-time in-cabin collision avoidance and safety alerts identify potential obstacles. Parallelly, driver coaching and incentivization help promote a culture of safe driving.
  • Driver alertness: Sensors and computer vision are used to monitor and alert drivers in case of unsafe situations like distraction, drowsiness, phone use, or seat belt non-compliance.
  • Predictive vehicle health: Digital twin technology helps track vehicle soundness and drivers receive alerts for mission-critical systems such as engine cooling, battery charging, and fuel-air metering systems.
  • Fuel efficiency insights: Fuel efficiency, filling, and pilferage can be tracked with up to 98% accuracy using digital twin technology and geolocation—to help optimize mileage, fuel use, fleet utilization.6
  • Geofencing, track and trace: All vehicles can be tracked in real-time, with a record of trip history complete with geo-coordinates, vehicle speed, and driver behavior exceptions. This enables real-time safety alerts and immediate interventions if needed.

Ensuring Safe Hazmat Transportation and Driving Significant Cost Savings

While there has been growing awareness and availability of HAZMAT solutions, cost and ease of deployment remain some of the key factors to consider. With Intel® Onboard Fleet Services, fleet operators can reduce accidents by up to 30%. Reduce unplanned breakdowns by anywhere 15–20% equipped with world-class fleet safety intelligence. They can even realize as much as INR 60–80 lakh in savings per 100 vehicles per annum.7

Ultimately, advanced technology must be backed by change that is systemic and self-driven from within the industry. As they gear up to capture a larger slice of the global market, Indian manufacturers have already begun to seriously consider holistic solutions to HAZMAT safety both within production facilities and beyond. Combined with forward-looking policy and integrated solutions such as Intel® Onboard Fleet Services, the country can look forward to a significant boost in preventive safety for this essential industry.

Advanced Technologies from Intel Can Help Drive a Safer and More Efficient Hazmat Transport Experience

Iterating on this, Nivruti Rai, Country Head for Intel India and Vice President at Intel Foundry Services says, “Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence are playing a transformational role in enabling smarter and safer vehicles, roads, transportation systems, and drivers. Intel—along with its ecosystem collaborators from the Government, industry, and academia—has been relentlessly working towards leveraging the power of technology to help achieve India’s road safety goals.”