In a discussion with 3M India on how safety is being integrated into daily driving, Pawan Kumar Singh, Country Business Leader, Transportation and Electronics Business Group at 3M shared the following.

1. Elaborate the product 3M Vehicle Conspicuity Retroreflective Tapes? How is it made?

In India alone, over 150,000 people are killed in road traffic accidents annually. Many of these road traffic accidents and fatalities occur in low-light conditions. A contributing factor to these rear-end collisions is the poor visibility of heavy vehicles operating at night. As per studies conducted by various research institutes around the globe, up to 41 per cent of night-time accidents can be reduced by the application of reflective tape on vehicles. In line with a clear vision to reduce road accidents, the Government of India introduced rules and regulations around the application of Retroreflective tape on commercial vehicles.

Adhering to these regulations, 3M has been striving to develop the science behind retroreflection for 70 years and has been advancing this technology in new and ground-breaking ways. Let’s understand retroreflection in layman’s language. When any vehicle’s light falls on a surface and that surface reflects it back and it comes back to the driver’s side and through that, the driver is able to see. The technology can be performed through two sub-technologies, one is the glass bead technology and the other one is called prismatic technology where the reflection happens through the millions of small prisms which are there on the flat surface of the signage that you see on the road. We are the company who has improved it to the level that theoretically in around 2004 – 2005 we launched a particular grade of sheeting where a 100% of the light which falls on the surface comes back to the driver’s side. So, that’s the maximum reflection that can be given by a particular reflective sheeting or the signages can be that much brighter.

3M has worked through the years to cater to the requirement of the various subsets of the driving population on the road. So, you have got the drivers of the commercial vehicles, you’ve got people driving private vehicles who then fall under different age brackets. So, our technology serves the whole gamut of road users young, old, people with higher reflexes, people with slower reflexes. And that’s where we have almost reached the maximum that this technology can offer but at the same time it is not the end of innovation. We are still working to improve that. We now are talking about various technologies which are going to be helping the companies with autonomous cars, connected cars. So, all those things are going on and you’ll see over a period of time those also coming from 3M’s table.

2. What are the materials used? Where is it manufactured? What is the timeline for the product to reach its finished stage?

The construction of such precise and efficient retroreflective sheeting requires deep technological know-how and good manufacturing capabilities. We have plants in the US, Europe and APAC to cater to various locations and complying with different regulatory standards. The three key characteristics to look for and determine the most effective reflective tape for your vehicle is reflectivity, strong adhesion, and durability. These reflective tapes are made of various layers of polymeric films to achieve retroreflection and long-term durability performance. Our product gives you the best of these parameters in an easy to apply roll format and pressure-sensitive adhesive.

3. What is the business model for the product and the warranties included?

End-users of reflective tapes are mainly commercial vehicle owners like fleet owners, logistic service providers, transporters, public and private road transport providers, delivery fleets, etc. We have effective business models carved especially for aftermarket, automotive OEMs and Government bodies like SRTCs so our customers can avail our products at any stage of their vehicle lifecycle. We give a product performance guarantee up to 5 years post application of our reflective tape (depending upon maintenance of vehicle). We have a presence all over India to cater to various requirements of our customers. Our technical experts support testing, training and new developments suitable for the Indian market. We also have a Design team to guide us on the optimum mix of safety and aesthetics for vehicles.

4. Can the same be used for passenger vehicles alike?

Yes, indeed. As per a 2018 report, passenger vehicle accidents and deaths due to car ‘Hit & Run’ contribute second highest (16%) in India after 2 Wheeler-led accidents (33%). The current AIS standards do not mandate the application of reflective tape on private passenger vehicles i.e., M1 category. However, 3M has developed DIY products that can be used by any vehicle user to be applied on their bikes, bicycles, helmets, jackets and even their bags.

5. What is the company working on at present, what are the future projects for 3M in reference with commercial vehicles?

On the vehicle front, we are currently developing products that can cater to various segments like Emergency vehicles, Bicycles, Tractors, Heavy equipment and 2W to improve night-time visibility and help road users reach their families safely. Apart from the products, we are also closely working with all stakeholders to improve the standards involving road safety interventions. Education of road users is very important in today’s times and we are striving to sensitize each one of them on the importance of safety on road.

6. Could you share other initiatives taken by the company for making the roads safer?

Indian road network is the second largest in the world, but it also has the dubious distinction of having maximum road fatalities in the world. The tremendous economic growth in recent times has resulted in an overall improvement in the country’s infrastructure and more so in terms of better road infrastructure for more efficient vehicular movement. The road safety initiatives always go hand in hand with the growth of safer roads in efforts to reduce accidents and fatalities. 3M is always at the forefront and geared up to enhance our road safety standards so that it can keep pace with the best of the technologies globally which suit rapid road development in our country.  Besides developing products in India for India, we are working with various institutes/ research organizations and govt. bodies to impart knowledge on changing road safety requirements and standards so that technological innovations can reach to end road user.



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