“The macroeconomic environment is… expected to remain challenging for some time, which makes it all the more important for us to pave the way now for Linde’s profitable growth in the future.”

These were the words of Linde’s CEO Dr. Wolfgang Büchele who addressed shareholders, shareholder representatives and representatives of the press gathered at the International Congress Centre in Munich today.

Reflecting on his first year in this position, he gave insight into the discoveries he made during his travels around the continent, meeting many of the 65,500 employees that Linde has.

“I have been particularly impressed by the commitment and professionalism of our employees. That’s the driving force behind the company!” he affirmed, adding, “However, as I travelled around, what also became clear was that the competition has intensified over the past few years.”

“We might be a market leader, but out competitors are not going to hand us anything on a plate.”

“It is vital that we differentiate ourselves from the competition. We have to offer our customers genuine added value and we have to understand today what our customers will need and want us to supply tomorrow.”

Dr. Büchele reiterated the company’s performance in Fiscal 2014 for those gathered at the AGM - highlighting awards it had earned and steps made in the creation of a hydrogen fuelling highway (see links to these stories at the side of this page).

Concluding his presentation, Dr. Büchele spoke of a “change in corporate culture” that is required to remain as the world’s leading integrated gases and engineering company.

He began by saying, “We are all working towards one goal. We want to be the world’s leading integrated gases and engineering company. But to do this will require more than just a little fine-tuning.”

“It will need a change in corporate culture, a process we’ve begun to implement over the past year.”

He added, “We’ve begun making systematic improvements to our organisational structure – around the world and in all areas of our business. We have therefore transferred even more responsibility to our Regional Business Units, those parts of the organisation which are directly involved in conducting business with our customers.”

This new focus on the customer (the Customer Focus Initiative) from Linde has provided it with many highlights – with the two below giving a good idea of how a broader focus from the company will look.

“We are actively pursuing interesting opportunities emerging from digitalisation - Our ASUs are precisely controlled from Remote Operation Centres. This enables us not only to reduce energy costs but also to increase the reliability of the plants – leading to increased customer satisfaction,” clarified Büchele.

The LIV® IQ oxygen cylinders are equipped with a smart card for recording data and Linde is also working on an intelligent valve which will have benefits for the company and for the customer. A pilot phase for the valve should begin next year.

Progress is also being made in the hydrogen fuelling sector and the company is even currently developing the prototype of a fuel cell bicycle.

“Improving our process and procedures will make us stronger in the long term and more efficient as a result. And we can see the first signs of success,” stated Dr. Büchele, concluding with, “My fellow Executive Board members and I look forward to your continued support on this journey, because we’re convinced that the steps we’ve taken so far will put us in the best possible position to make Linde the most efficient company in our industry, the undisputed number one in our sector.”