Technology is forcing the pace of change and the industrial gas business needs to embrace digitisation and drive the new productivity levers of tomorrow.
That’s according to Sanjiv Lamba, Executive Board Member for Linde plc and opening keynote at gasworld’s Future-Proofing Industrial Gas Operations Summit 2019 here in Singapore.
An audience of more than 130 delegates from 29 countries have gathered at the luxurious Orchard Hotel in Singapore to discuss the whole new wave of growth and development that the industrial gases business sits on the verge of, driven by Industry 4.0 and ever-increasing digitisation.
The significance of this industrial gas revolution in strategies, operations and applications is not lost on Lamba, who explained, “As an industry, we need to recognise that the future is here today – some would argue that it was here yesterday. So the challenge ahead of us, in our industry, is enormous and it’s up to us to decide which parts of this are best or most important for us.”
“It is a revolution that is happening, as we saw in that wonderful animation – it is a revolution and it is a huge opportunity.”
Lamba proceeded to describe the societal, geopolitical and macro-economic climate globally and how this reinforces the need for greater discussion and action around digitisation.
“What is the currency in our world today? The one currency that is certain the world over today is uncertainty. That uncertainty has a lot of implications, and for our industry too.”
”The one immediate reaction to that from most industries, including our customers, is that investment decisions get put on hold. That is critical for us, because we are seeing investment cycles put on hold… and I know this uncertainty is impacting all of our decisions going forward.”
Having described the slowing investment cycles in the wake of global uncertainty, as well as waning growth momentum in emerging markets, he continued, “Which is why the next few conversations we’re going to have today are even more important.”
Lamba described the shifting landscape of the B2B market as one of the big areas of change when considering digitisation, and described how technology is forcing the pace of change in the gases industry – with a call to action for all stakeholders.
“I see the B2B landscape changing quite significantly. We tend to see the B2B landscape as us and the customer. The reality is that the transaction is never like this, it is of course B2C – it might be between Sanjv and Chet, for example, not necessarily between company and company.”
“We are all impatient consumers, and that same level of impatience that you have as independent consumers translates to B2B too… If you can buy in three clicks on Amazon [as an individual], why would you buy in 12 clicks on an industrial gas commerce portal?”
“Things need to change, the ease of convenience and ease of use needs to improve. I think there’s a lot that needs to change in asset operations and the supply chain.”
Alluding to the cost and margin pressures the industry collectively faces, Lamba urged the need to drive the new productivity levers that digitisation brings.
“Technology is forcing the pace of change,” he said. “I have to say I call our industry a slower industry. We are of course advanced, but we can often be followers rather than leading, and we are being forced by technology to move forward and embrace digitalisation.”
“This is not a trend or a fad, this is a fundamental shift. This is going to fundamentally change your business, our business”
“It’s about the importance of the customer experience. It’s about product lifecycles being shorter and shorter. It’s about intelligent supply chains and a move to mass customisation. It’s about a sharing economy shaping consumption.”
“All of this currently is part of what we do, every day, but we recognise as an industry we have a long way to go and as market leaders we have a responsibility to keep moving forward and harness the change that is all around us.”
Concluding, he added, “This is not a trend or a fad, this is a fundamental shift. This is going to fundamentally change your business, our business.”
“Just a small bit of paranoia is good in this world, to understand the disruption ahead and ask whether you want to be a disruptor or be disrupted.”
Pointed panel sessions
The challenges and opportunities presented by Industry 4.0 and its many related strands of development is the subject of pointed panel sessions and presentations from informed speakers at the Summit, including:
The event also delivers a final session focused on Future Gas Supply and Demand this afternoon, exploring future supply chains for industrial and specialty gases, the dynamics in both markets in the Asia-Pacific region and what to expect in the years ahead. The event will conclude with a talk on telematics and how new state-of-the-art technologies are transforming what we knew about distribution and transport fleets.
Follow the summit
Stay up-to-date with all the latest news, views and developments at the Future-Proofing Industrial Gas Operations Summit 2019 via the gasworld website, updated throughout the event.
gasworld will also tweet updates during the conference, which you can follow and interact with on Twitter using the hashtag #GWAsia2019
A full review of the conference will be published in the forthcoming editions of both gasworld and gasworld (US) magazine.