In a first for the industrial gases sector, Air Liquide’s new project to create a remote operations and optimisation centre has been certified as a “technological showcase.”

The venture, entitled ‘Connect’, is lead by the Tier One’s Large Industries activities in France and will see the company invest €20m ($22.5m) in the plant of the future project, which is expected to start operations in 2017.

The scheme was given the title of “technological showcase” by the Industry of the Future Alliance – an association which is gathering Industry and Digital Technology professional organisations in order to secure the French “Industry of the Future” plan deployment.

This nationwide plan seeks to invest and encourage companies to modernise their production base and use digital technologies to transform their business model, therefore forging a more connected, competitive industry.

With Connect, Air Liquide is creating this remote operations and optimisation centre in France, in order to control and optimise the production, energy efficiency and reliability of its Large Industries sites.

With Connect, Air Liquide is taking a major step forward in its digital transformation by beginning a large-scale roll-out of the plant of the future, throughout the whole country.

Around 20 sites will be connected to this national control centre, situated in Greater Lyon, and will produce and supply industrial customers with oxygen (O2), nitrogen (N2), argon (Ar) and hydrogen (H2) via pipeline throughout the country.

The plant of the future project aims to introduce the latest digital technologies such as 3D scanning, touch tablets and augmented reality into the on-site teams’ daily work. Roughly 10 of these new technologies are currently being tested or deployed at the production sites.

Connect will help to bring over 100 local businesses in France together as part of an open innovation approach throughout the French industrial ecosystem and local economy.

Guy Salzgeber, Senior Vice-President, Europe Industries and member of the Air Liquide group’s Executive Committee, confirmed, “We are proud to be certified among the first technological showcases by the Industry of the Future Alliance. With Connect, Air Liquide is taking a major step forward in its digital transformation by beginning a large-scale roll-out of the plant of the future, throughout the whole country.”

”As an integral part of the project and key to its success, the open innovation process enables us to identify new usages and efficiency levers unexplored until then.”