Major accidents have been occurring at various production plants in Japan, according to The Gas Review (TGR).
Looking at 2014, the publication noted that no less than eight accidents occurred at the Mitsubishi Materials plant in Yokkaichi, the Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal plant in Nagoya, and the JFE Steel Plant in Chiba.
While TGR points out that there were various causes for these accidents, the importance of gas related technologies is again called into question. Facility breakdowns, old or worn out facilities, and human error all spring to mind, it says. What is certain is that not one single factor but rather a combination of factors are involved in an accident.
Another cause, however, is that not enough safety systems are installed, with TGR pointing out that in some instances if various types of sensors, gas detectors and nitrogen purging processes had been deployed, then this may have prevented incidents. This applies not only to cases where explosions have occurred, but also where accidents involve a lack of oxygen; if each employee were to take along an oxygen detector, such accidents would not occur.
Currently, in the field of manufacturing in Japan, the ageing of various plants and production facilities, and an increasing number of older employees, cannot be avoided. But no matter how much calling there is for new capital investment under ‘Abenomics’, the market for investment lies elsewhere in Asia. In other words, what is required is technology that would keep the ageing plants going, safe and without resulting in any accident. For TGR, the questions is whether gas related technology can play a leading role here.