Sustainability Case Study: Using Technology to Improve Safety and Sustainability

Drone for inspecting equipmentDow is using technology in new ways to improve our safety and sustainability.

Road Site Safety and Optimization Tools

What if technology could not only tell us the most direct route to travel but the safest one, too? Some Dow sites have hundreds of miles of roads and railroad tracks, which means traffic safety is not only a high priority but also complex. In 2018, Dow initiated the Real-time Tracking of Carrier Driver Compliance project to improve the safety of drivers and pedestrians on-site. To improve compliance of site traffic rules, we are implementing a solution using GPS and geo-fencing technology to monitor the driving performance of carriers on our property. The Integrated Supply Chain Innovation and Site Logistics team also has developed a new automated capability to analyze and optimize on-site traffic to prescribe optimal routes that reduce personnel safety risk and congestion. It’s one way that Dow is using technology to pave the way for a safer employee experience.

Letting Robots Do the Crawling and Flying

Whether entering tanks or working from scaffolding sometimes hundreds of feet high, inspecting hard-to-reach places can put people at risk. That is why Dow is using robotics technology at sites around the world. By letting robots do the crawling in tank inspections and small unmanned aerial systems do the flying for elevated work, employees can avoid higher-risk situations and use the data collected by the technology to make assessments. Collaborations with organizations such as Sprint Robotics, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Petroleum Institute have helped advance Dow’s performance in this arena.

By using robotics in 2018, more than 1,000 confined space entries and 1,000 external inspections that would have required elevated work were eliminated. In 2017, Dow’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and Robotic Platform Initiative received the Operational Excellence Leadership Award from the Manufacturing Leadership Council. Dow also is the first chemical and materials science company to obtain a permit from the Federal Aviation Administration for using small airborne devices in and around manufacturing facilities.

Utilizing Virtual Reality to Train Workers

Dow is piloting a virtual-reality training simulation to help achieve error-free and injury-free loading of hopper railcars. The simulator was created by a cross-functional team from Dow and the Michigan State University Computer Science department. For the pilot program, loaders at the Freeport site in Texas wore augmented reality headsets attached to their safety helmets while watching a video on proper loading procedures. Building on the successful proof of concept, Dow is evaluating where to apply this technology and how to scale it up.

Read more about Dow's 2025 Goals progress in the 2018 Sustainability Report. Visit the Highlights and Reporting page for more case studies.