Air liquide inaugurated today in France, an operation centre that enables the remote management of production for 22 of the Group’s units in France, optimising their energy consumption and improving their reliability.
The venture, entitled ‘Connect’, invested €20m ($22.5m) in the project and 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.
The project is based on the implementation of new digital technologies at French production sites and on the creation of new skills.
Like a control tower, the remote operation and optimisation centre, located near Lyon, in Saint-Priest, has a nationwide vision of customer needs for oxygen (O2), nitrogen (N2), argon (Ar) and hydrogen (H2).
Capable of stopping or restarting a site remotely, the centre adapts the production level of the plants according to customer demand. The workflows of each unit are adapted in real time to the needs of each customer. The volume of production and the delivery of gases to customers are optimised throughout the country.
Air Liquide is developing predictive maintenance for production sites by identifying the weak signals that precede a malfunction. Algorithms devised by Air Liquide engineers are used to fine-tune equipment adjustments in plants in order to optimise energy consumption, leveraging nearly 15 years of data gathered from all industrial sites.
In the plants, new technologies such as touch tablets, 3D scanning and video tutorials are being introduced to simplify maintenance and inspection management operations and the organisation of daily tasks for operators.
The centre has also given rise to new skills such as real-time pilots who are in constant contact with sites, and analysts who study the production and optimisation of energy consumption.
With the creation of the operating center and the introduction of new technologies into the daily work of production unit technicians, Connect is part of Air Liquide’s open innovation approach between production sites teams, i-Lab, the innovation lab of Air Liquide, and the French ecosystem of technology start-ups.
Guy Salzgeber, Senior Vice-President and member of the Air Liquide Group’s Executive Committee supervising Europe Industries, said, “We are proud to implement the first industrial gases remote operation centre, which contributes to strengthen the Group’s competitiveness. The Group’s digital transformation is taking a new step, enabling Air Liquide to even better anticipate the needs of its industrial customers while strengthening the reliability of its production units.”