At the recent All India Industrial Gases Manufacturers Association (AIIGMA), 27th National Seminar on Industrial Gases in Chennai India, gasworld exhibited to 350 delegates the availability of the portal for gas and equipment suppliers, to gain more exposure to the global industry.

gasworld offers the most comprehensive directory, specifically tailored towards any company or individual wanting to know about suppliers of gases, equipment and services on a local, regional or global basis.

In January, gasworld launched its news service to cater to the European, Middle Eastern and Asian industrial gas markets which lack any significant or specific coverage. The exhibition and conference in Chennai gave gasworld the opportunity to launch these services to the Asian market.

Logie Mackay, Business Development Consultant for gasworld said, \\$quot;We represent a global business that acts locally. We are very conscious of the regional content of our news service which should reflect a growing importance of growing world class economies like India.\\$quot;

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AIIGMA was set up about 27 years ago. The aim of the association was to be a liaison organisation between the Ministry of Explosives (the Indian Governmental Department responsible for the gases business) and the companies operating in the gas business. Originally there was one major gas supplier, Indian Oxygen Limited (IOL), to the Indian market, this was part owned by BOC and was formed in 1935.

IOL dominated the market for gases, but in the 1970s and 1980s the Indian Government began to encourage Indian private companies to participate in the gases business. This has eventually led to about 250 companies becoming producers or suppliers of gases to the Indian market.



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With a growing number of companies there was a need for a vehicle to coordinate themes and the application of Indian Standards issued by the Department of Explosives. This lead to the formation of AIIGMA.

Since its inception, AIIGMA has expanded its role and now acts on behalf of the industry to address issues such as sales tax and import duties related to gas and equipment for its members. It also provides training/symposiums on technical and safety issues, and also collates some commercial information on the gases business (volumes sold).

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AIIGMA holds an annual gathering of the gas companies and members, which includes it annual general meeting and conference exhibition. The event attracts participants from the gas industry and allied equipment manufacturing sector. India sees itself as past the developing phase and ready to make a stand in the industrial world community.

This years event was held on the 21st and 22nd of January and represented their 27th annual seminar. The theme of this year's seminar was, Gases for Agricultural Industries, Health Care and Technology Growth\\$quot;.

Participants of the seminar received presentations of technical and market related papers from leading experts in the industry. The topics ranged from 'Service Tax & VAT' to 'Water Treatment for Cooling Water'. Over 200 people engaged directly or indirectly to the industrial gas business attended the event.

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Logie Mackay, Associate Consultant for Spiritus Consulting Ltd, who gave a presentation on 'Growth Opportunities for Industrial Gases' was very positive about the event,\\$quot;It was useful to speak to an informed and influential audience, and I liked that it was a very focused seminar group. India is a growing industrial giant and it was good to see a presentation on the growth of the industrial gas business within the Indian economy. I was impressed by the very high standard of presentations overall, which ranged from local fiscal policy to the latest techniques for the liquefaction of nitrogen. It was a very worthwhile seminar and is one of the top seminars of its kind around the world. It is always good to attend a serious seminar for a serious industry.\\$quot;

Also present at the seminar was BOC India Ltd. who was there to give a presentation on their 70 years of BOC in India, which was given by Managing Director Mr Sanjiv Lamba.

BOC has been the majority stake owner of Indian Oxygen Limited (IOL), since it increased its investment in March 1993. It was on the 24th January 1935, the British Oxygen company decided to establish a new private limited company, The Indian Oxygen & Acerylene Company Limited. For this purpose they purchased three existing companies trading in gases, The Lightfoot Refrigeration Company Limited, the Gas Accumulator Company (India) Limited, and Allen Liversidge (India) Limited. Together they owned installations across different parts of the subcontinent. The company originally traded in oxy-acetylene welding and cutting, bronze welding, lancing, liquid oxygen explosives for tin mines, soldering and arc welding. It is interesting to notice that none of these products are produced today.

///Image courtesy of BOC

In 1939 IOL experienced their first expansion. They established an oxygen factory in Jamshedpur where the country's largest steel plant was located.

On November 28th 1942, David Carty was appointed MD, which he held until the 31st January 1951. Through IOL's foundation years and difficult war years, David Carty guided and moulded the company with inspiration. His retirement message reflects the spirit he tried to instil into the company, which remained through the rough years and in part, still remains today.

\\$quot;This is a company of which we may all be justly proud. Preserve its high traditions. Aspire to greater things, but do not let personal ambition blind you to your duties to your fellow men. Your great country may play a major part in pacifying and consolidating a world now ridden by doubt and anxiety. Render your assistance to that end.\\$quot; Source: Reflections - Sixty Years of IOL

IOL went through a very trying time in the 70s when the Indian government imposed tight restrictions on foreign companies, creating an uncertain time for them.

In the 80s, the full consequence of the stringent foreign regulations hit the country's multinational companies, IOL in general. However, IOL persevered and made the best use of existing resources they had available to them and in 1984, were granted the licence to produce Helium. Unfortunately, the company still took a down turn and by the end of the 80\\$quot;s, there was a strong suspicion that BOC might pull out as many other large multinational had done.

But a combination of factors turned the tide for IOL in the 1990's. A new Indian government came to power in 1991 and with them new economic reforms making it more attractive for foreign investors to support Indian based companies. This combined with a new radical form of company management and reform, headed by 1989 appointed MD Shashi Prasad I 1989, changed the course of time. He tackled severe over-manning, introduced cost cutting plans, modernised the plant and technology, and introduced incentive based policies for personnel.

In the mid 1990s, the investment climate also changed, thanks to the Indian Government but this lead to a greater threat to IOL with the entry of some of the international players, such as Praxair, Airgas, Air Products and Messer. IOL changed its name to BOC Gases India Ltd and set upon a rationalisation programme and efficiency drive, which has led to improved profitability for the company, while maintaining consistent growth in the market. \\$quot;The company remains the No.1 gas company in the merchant market“ says John Raquet, Managing Director of Spiritus Consulting but the company has lost its overall No.1 spot in recent years following the entry and rapid on-site growth of Praxair.

Mr Lamba's speech was very positive though, highlighting the expected rapid growth in the Indian gases market. \\$quot;The Indian gases market will grow from 18th to be the 6th largest market by 2020\\$quot;,declared Mr Lamba at the conference.

Footnote: Following a successful tenure at BOC Gases in India, it was announced in December that Mr Lamba was being promoted to a Regional Director of PGS (division with BOC) and will be based in Singapore.