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Rajkiran Kanagala

Sr VP & Group Head – Emerging Business Units & Strategy, TCI

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Critical Factors That Define Safe Chemical Logistics

India is the fourth-largest producer of agrochemicals in the world, 6th largest producer of chemicals in the world and produces 16% of the world’s dyes yet safe movement of chemicals still remains to be one of the biggest challenges.

During the second wave of COVID-19 in India, the Union ministry of road transport and highways asked states and Union territories to create a pool of drivers trained especially to transport ‘hazardous cargo’ amid an increase in transportation and supply of liquid medical oxygen. As per the ministry’s statement issued in May’21, ONLY trained drivers with adequate training and having ‘hazardous cargo’ license would be allowed to operate the Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) trucks.

This is one of the recent examples that demonstrate the highly critical nature of Chemical Logistics; and how it differs itself from many other logistics disciplines because of the potential danger posed by the cargo and its impact on health, safety, security, and the environment (HSSE).

Dangerous goods can be transported only if handled properly and with care. All DG containers have to be checked for proper label/placard as required by the IMDG code and shall be rejected if it poses hazard prior loading. DLDS [(DMIDC) Logistics Data Services Ltd.] provides digital container tracking solution that helps reduce logistics cost from present 14% of the GDP to international standards of 8%.

Though, India is the fourth-largest producer of agrochemicals in the world, 6th largest producer of chemicals in the world and produces 16% of the world’s dyes yet safe movement of chemicals still remains to be one of the biggest challenges.

Another challenge that comes into picture whilst maintaining safety & statutory standards throughout the value chain is managing the cost. Although chemical industry is hell bent on logistics players to maintain safety standards, they are not ready to bear the cost of sustaining these standards. No matter how much we pretend to be committed to safety, it will not be effective unless the manufacturer, trader, worker, logistics service provider (LSP) or inspecting authority do not share the financial responsibility thus accountability towards safety.

Inadequate supply of trained drivers, labors, proper understanding of products and its handling is serious concern. Understanding of chemicals, its classes, reading and understanding of MSDS is not available. Chemicals being treated as normal goods while they are transported or stored without knowing the consequences of inherent hazards. Chemicals are classified in various classes, Class 1: Explosives, Class 2: Gases, Class 3: Flammable and so on. It is very important for the logistics service providers to know what they are carrying and storing, equal importance to be given on safety while goods are in transit as it is given inside manufacturing plant while it is manufactured.

Bulk liquid transportation in India is not in line with international standards. International standards are followed till the time product is manufactured or at the port level. After that all comes is what is “Freight Cost”, no matter how it is transported, what is the vessel type, capacity, safety features and so on.

Though ISO tank containers are considered to be the safest mode of bulk transportation of chemicals, yet their availability in the market is less. The reason behind logistics players’ ambivalence to invest in this relatively costly asset is again non-willingness of chemical companies in sharing the cost. To rectify these problems, a serious re-appraisal of the following guiding principles of the industry is an urgent need of the hour:

1) Training

2) Legal requirements

3) Planned risk management

4) Ongoing improvements

5) Community interactions

6) Policy documentation

7) Provision of information and

8) Emergency response capacity building

Continuous efforts to improve safety during the storage, movement and the associated handling of chemicals have become a part of the objective to advance safety performance of both the chemical and logistics industry. At TCI, we have PESO compliant warehouses that meet modern fire safety infrastructure standards for safe storage of a wide range of hazardous & non-hazardous chemicals. Safe in-plant services include - Bagging & Debagging, Silo Charging, Line Charging, Quality check at all steps, End of line packaging and labeling, & Customized Palletization.

TCI’s safety standards also include:

  • Being member of Nicer Globe Responsible Care initiative of Indian Chemical Council (ICC) for emergency response
  • ISO Tank Containers Fleet Data Uploaded Online on Bureau International des Containers et du Transport Intermodal (B.I.C)
  • Membership with International Tank Container Organization (ITCO)

TCI, through its sub-division, TCI Chemical Logistics Solutions manages an asset base of 650+ tank containers. In liquid transportation specific gravity of product plays a crucial role and determines load factor. Higher the specific gravity higher the load factor. Higher the load factor higher is the slouching effect on the inside walls of the tank carrying the liquid. Typically, while taking turns, during uphill or downhill rides slouching effect is more which can result in topple and accident of the vehicle.

The future belongs to multimodal logistics by rail and coastal. Adding to it, the increasing demand for sustainability in logistics has made ‘green logistics’ a buzz word in the recent times.

Rail transportation is anytime much cheaper than road transportation in long haul. ISO Tank containers with higher loading capacity are able to pass on the cost benefit to chemical companies. One of our joint venture companies, TCI Concor does end-to-end movement of solid and bulk liquid chemicals by rail in ISO tank containers (with baffles) & flexi tanks.

Being the “Leaders in ‘Green Logistics’”, we look forward to a future where more companies opt for movement via rail and coastal route more than what is currently prevalent more importantly invest substantially in creating logistics assets.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house



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