Safety, digital technology and operations efficiencies have been in the spotlight on the final day of gasworld’s North America Conference 2017, as the curtain falls on the company’s second event to be held in the US and the final event of the year for the industry.

Hosted at the The Westin Oaks Houston at the Galleria in Houston, Texas, over 200 delegates have come together to experience a cutting-edge agenda over the past two days with engaging panel discussions from industry insiders and 21 promotional booths on display – representing gasworld’s strongest ratio of gas companies to equipment manufacturers to-date.

Whilst day one of the conference set the theme – Tackling the Rate of Change in Our Industry – and gave an update on specific industry activity, day two helped attendees understand the rate of change in the North America industrial gas industry and, more importantly, gave advice on the right strategic moves to respond and accelerate performance.

Day one of North America conference closes

While in North America – the conference highlighted the seismic change experienced by the North American industrial gas industry – from the transformation in ownership and structure, to supply chain challenges and distributor business disruption.

No less than 11 industry experts stepped into the limelight today to debate and discuss these topics and to offer delegates some practical advice to take back to their company.

Session Four

Opening the session was Keynote address, FBI Anthony Bliss and SSA Mond Mugiya, who provided an insight on our industry from a safety and security perspective.

An eye-opening presentation informed the audience of how to prevent the exploitation of chemicals in the creation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Gas businesses were encouraged to work together as a community, to exchange information and to form a ‘digital trip wire’ around the world to reduce threat and risk. The concluding message was to know your staff and know your customer.

 FBI SSA Mond Mugiya and Anthony Bliss are presented with gifts by John Raquet

FBI SSA Mond Mugiya and Anthony Bliss are presented with gifts from John Raquet.

Chaired by Jim Glessner, Founder of Lockhouse Network Inc., Session Four discussed the topic: Improving your ROI through Embracing Digital Technology. The panel, comprised of four industry experts; Elizabeth Wallace, Vice-President of Product Management, TrackAbout Inc.; Robert Barnacle, Co-Founder & President of DataOnline; David Schaer, President of Computers Unlimited and Tyler Stousland, Product Manager, Chart Industries, and focused on cylinder asset tracking, bulk tracking and monitoring, and cutting down on paperwork.

First to share their thoughts on the topic of digital technology was Glessner. He set the scene by saying, “Digital technology comes at us in waves, and with speed and impact. It is a shift in our culture, in our ideas, and in the ways that we operate. If all those things come together at the same time, then what we are seeing is a trend.”

“It is the solutions that leverage digital technology that are making bells go off in our ears.”

Wallace followed up Glessner’s introduction with some examples of how the internet has changed the ways in which we now track assets around the world, and how this can reduce the great number of assets that go missing from a company every year. She said, “It is time to bring the gas industry out of the dark ages and to recover the elusive black hole.”

Barnacle’s and Stousland’s presentations followed with a message regarding the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and what companies can do to leverage this useful tool. Stousland described Chart industries growth into IoT and explained that the company is not only trying to support its customers, but other people in the industry who are working on digital solutions too.

Schaer used the analogy of a candle evolving into a light bulb to demonstrate the development of a business process changing and adapting to become more efficient and streamlined. He provided metrics to help measure ROI and gave tips to drive down costs.

Elizabeth Wallace, Vice-President of Product Management; Jim Glessner, Founder of Lockhouse Network Inc.; David Schaer, President of Computers Unlimited; Robert Barnacle, Co-Founder & President of DataOnline; Tyler Stousland, Product Manager, Chart Industries

(L-R) Elizabeth Wallace, Vice-President of Product Management; Jim Glessner, Founder of Lockhouse Network Inc.; David Schaer, President of Computers Unlimited; Robert Barnacle, Co-Founder & President of DataOnline; Tyler Stousland, Product Manager, Chart Industries.

Session Five

Session Five, chaired by Ravin Mirchandani, Director of Mack Valves, homed in on Discovering New Sources of Revenue for Your Gases Business.

Panelists Fabian Van Damme, Director, Dohmeyer; Ashley Madray, Vice-President of Gas Innovations; Dr. Lars-Erik Gaertner, Innovation Technology Specialist at The Linde Group and Robert Niven, CEO & Founder of CarbonCure Technologies, delved into some of the ways business owners can find new sources of revenue from new applications/technologies and from outside of the traditional gas business.

Opening the discussion with an example of how a business can find ways to innovate by the cross-pollination of ideas, was Van Damme. He talked the audience through the various freezing applications that the company handles such as food, blood products, plastics, recycling, quenching of metal and the conservation of nuclear waste – demonstrating that the cryogenics business can tap into many unexpected markets and that all business should be encouraged to explore diversified expansion.

Erik Gaertner and Niven stepped up to consider carbon dioxide utilisation and the new opportunities evolving that are likely to ‘open doors’ for many gas producers.

Niven concluded, “you tend to lose your customer the same way you gained them. Innovation is the only way of avoiding this. Finding new ideas from outside of the industry and taking an alternative direction is crucial for the survival of your business.”

(L-R) Robert Niven, CEO & Founder of CarbonCure Technologies; Dr. Lars-Erik Gaertner, Innovation Technology Specialist at The Linde Group; Ashley Madray, Vice-President of Gas Innovations; Fabian Van Damme, Director, Dohmeyer; Ravin Mirchandani, Director of Mack Valves.

(L-R) Robert Niven, CEO & Founder of CarbonCure Technologies; Dr. Lars-Erik Gaertner, Innovation Technology Specialist at The Linde Group; Ashley Madray, Vice-President of Gas Innovations; Fabian Van Damme, Director, Dohmeyer; Ravin Mirchandani, Director of Mack Valves.

After a delicious celebratory lunch, the final session of the conference concluded with exhibition time and a few parting words from gasworld CEO and Publisher John Raquet to bring the curtain down on the event. He stated, “Our ethos is to bring the industrial gas community together. I like to think we’re a catalyst for business and a catalyst for thought. I’m going to conclude now by thanking the panelists for providing their expert views and opinions over the last two days, and the Chairs for orchestrating such engaging discussions. I’d also like to thank the gasworld team – they have worked hard organising this event and have done a sterling job.”

Later this afternoon, attendees will make their way to the AfterGlow event located in The Galleria for free-flowing drinks.

Review

A full review of the conference will be published in the upcoming January 2018 editions of gasworld magazine and gaswolrd (US Edition).

Safety and security

To help keep the industrial gases business safe, the FBI encourages business owners to help identify adversary by forwarding non-legitimate inquiries to either of the following email addresses:

Supervisory Special Agent, Mond Mugiya: mmmugiya@fbi.gov

Program Analyst, Anthony Bliss: awbliss@fbi.gov