Messer has confirmed the security of its supply to existing customers it not currently at risk amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

The German family run industrial gas company is taking extensive measures to secure the oxygen supply to hospitals.

In a statement, Messer said its concern was to be able to supply all of its customers in the field of medical facilities, including pandemic hospitals.

As the demand for medical oxygen in liquid form is set to increase in key hospitals, Messer said additional tanks, vaporisers etc must and can be set up in a rush to ensure supply.

This would require means of transport and qualified and healthy personnel. Messer said it currently has 50% of its personnel working from home for this purpose, so that healthy personnel are available when required.

“The increase varies from country to country and changes hourly. According to our knowledge, Italy is currently the country with the highest gas demand, it is about factor 5 for cylinder gases and factor 10 for medical oxygen,” a statement from Messer said.

“Apart from Italy, the demand for medical oxygen in the countries in which Messer operates is currently highest in Austria and Spain.

“The demand for gases is increasing in relation to the number of inhabitants and the number of people who are ill.”

“The demand for medical oxygen is also increasing in those countries that are preparing for the situation, e.g. in Eastern Europe.”

Increased demand for oxygen in cylinders

Messer said the procurement of new cylinders and cylinders in the service department is being rescheduled with the aim of having sufficient cylinders and equipment available for the medical sector.

Emergency hospitals and respiratory stations require gaseous oxygen in cylinders. Wherever possible, Messer will set up tanks for liquid medical oxygen for vaporisation on site and thus supply patients.

Medical cylinders and pressure regulators are only available in a limited number.

“In Italy, the demand for gaseous medical oxygen in cylinders increased by a factor of 5, but no forecasts can be made for Germany at present,” Messer said in a statement.

The company stressed it currently has no shortage of gaseous oxygen and it has taken immediate measures to make several thousand cylinders available for extraordinary use, including:

  • Medical equipment a priority for its suppliers such as testing facilities and cylinder manufacturers
  • Dismantle gas cylinder bundles into individual cylinders
  • Extend production times

Messer said its capacities can be more than doubled.

Protecting employees

For Messer, the health and safety of its employees and business partners as well as responsible behaviour are key elements of its corporate culture.

“We have therefore implemented extensive measures to protect the health of our employees and partners – wherever possible, our employees currently work away from home or are physically separated,” a statement from Messer said.

“In those areas where this is not feasible, we have partly switched to multi-shift operation.”

“We hope that this will help us to ensure the health of our employees and partners as far as possible, to contain the spread of the virus and at the same time maintain normal business operations.”

Messer said it has banned international travel and national travel is only possible with permission.

In production and filling plants, physical contact between people from different shifts has been strictly prohibited.

Plant operators and bottlers working in the same shift must maintain a distance of two metres as far as reasonably possible.

The same applies in particular to truck drivers, cash registers, front and back offices and all visitors!

Fillers and truck drivers must wear gloves at all times when handling cylinders or filling or unloading their trucks.

Technical oxygen instead of medical oxygen

Messer said in individual cases, health authorities have agreed that it can also supply customers with technical oxygen instead of medical oxygen – with the same quality standards and controls.

“It has been decided in several European countries that oxygen can also be filled into suitable cylinders, which are usually supplied to companies other than hospitals, for example to the food industry,” Messer explained in a statement.

“The cylinders are then extensively relabelled. This enables us to achieve a higher capacity of gas cylinders to supply patients.”

External measures have also been initiated, partly via voting through national gas associations such as IGV in Germany.

These measures, listed below, have already been approved in Italy and Austria, and discussions are ongoing in other countries.

  • Use of technical equipment for medical use – this concerns vehicles, tanks, liquid cylinders, valves, pressure reducers and much more
  • Release of medical gases by the QP, without the need for the QP to be on site
  • Possibility to have cylinders filled at a competitor’s site, if someone in the industry has to shut down his business
  • EIGA addresses the ADR legislator in order to achieve an extension of the recurring inspections from 10 to 11 years, i.e. equipment to be inspected should then be immediately reused for one year.