Reducing Traffic in Pune

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Reducing Traffic in Pune

Cummins employees Manushree Daph (left) and Ajinkya Gole (right) were among 140 employees in Pune who took 68 videos over three weeks to gather data on Karve Road.

Cummins India employees in Pune are well aware of the congestion along Karve Road. It’s one of the main approaches to the Cummins India facilities in the city and can be jammed with cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles, motorized rickshaws and bicycles, too.

But employees didn’t just complain about the 148,000 vehicles that pass along the road each day. They put their data analysis and problem solving skills to work to make life better in Pune and their project was one of 15 winners recently announced in Cummins’ 2012 Environmental Challenge.

The effort to reduce vehicular emissions through traffic signal management was one of three projects that received special recognition in 2012 as part of the Challenge and was named both the Best Technical Project and the project with the Best Environmental Impact.

The 2012 Challenge drew more than 100 entries from Cummins employees in 19 countries. They competed to be judged one of the 15 best environmental community improvement projects of the year. The winners will each receive a $10,000 grant from The Cummins Foundation for the charitable community partner of their choice.

“Traffic congestion is a huge problem in Pune,” said Navdeep Singh, Project Leader in the Automotive Business Unit. He led a team of more than 200 employees who participated on the traffic signal project. “Apart from the mental stress, traffic congestion creates a lot of air pollution. Being heavily loaded with traffic, this stretch of Karve Road was recommended by Pune Traffic Police.”

The project focused on five traffic signals along a 1.3 kilometer stretch of Karve Road. Employees from six Cummins entities participated in the initiative: The Automotive Business Unit, the Cummins Research and Technology Institute, Cummins Turbo Technologies, Cummins Industrial Engine Business Unit, Cummins Emission Solutions and the Distribution Business Unit.

Employees worked in partnership with Janwani, a non-governmental organization devoted to community improvement and sustainable growth in Pune, as well as the Pune Traffic Police and the Pune Municipal Corporation.

“Traffic management is a big issue in the city,” said Vishwas Pandhare, Deputy Commissioner of Police in Pune. “From my point of view, Karve Road in particular is a concern.”

Pune is one of the fastest growing cities in India. Many multi-national corporations have established operations in the city to take advantage of the area’s highly educated workforce. However, key thoroughfares are centuries old in many instances and were never designed for the volume of traffic that exists today.

The team concluded that there are four main causes to traffic congestion along Karve Road:

  • Bunching of vehicles traveling at different speeds
  • A lack of driver discipline
  • Too many vehicles
  • The lack of coordinated traffic signals

The team determined that in the short term the only area it could have an impact was traffic signal management. Team members believed if the signals were coordinated, there was an opportunity to reduce congestion, the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and fuel could be saved, too.

They designed a methodology to evaluate the stretch of Karve Road and began collecting data via videos taken in the morning, mid-day and during the evening on selected days of the week. One hundred and forty employees took 68 videos in three weeks, investing more than 600 Every Employee Every Community (EEEC) hours on the initiative.

Seventy engineers then analyzed the videos and derived more than 3,000 timing readings that were evaluated to determine the best settings for the traffic signals. The signals were adjusted according to the analysis for conditions in the morning, evening and weekends. Employees used their engineering and project management skills as well as Six Sigma tools.

Now, traffic flows more smoothly through the targeted stretch of Karve Road. The team estimates more than 200,000 kilograms of GHGs will be avoided annually and nearly $150,000 in fuel will be saved each year based on today’s fuel prices.

The team also believes there will be fewer accidents and less stress among those who travel Karve Road. That’s a pretty good return on the team’s capital investment of just $320. Leaders of the project believe the work they did can be easily replicated not just in Pune but around India.

“The techniques we developed require very little capital,” said Singh, “and they can be replicated in any part of the country.”

Look for more stories on the Environmental Challenge soon…

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