SIAD has put thousands of cylinders in circulation in less than two weeks and seen the demand for medical oxygen grow tenfold amid the coronavirus crisis.

When the exponential growth in demand for medicinal oxygen emerged, staff in SIAD’s cylinder testing departments reorganised themselves concentrating on a single, common objective: to rapidly assemble new containers to allow colleagues in the packaging department to fill them and direct them to treatment centres.

Described by Antonio Minissale, Head of Gas Cylinder Production Planning, and Roberto Carelli, Head of the Cylinder Testing Department at the SIAD plant in Osio Sopra, as “the most intense weeks”, Minissale said data analysis, demand management and production planning in the first few hours of the emergency have ensured rapid and continuous supply to the treatment centres.

Minissale explains, “Since the first week of March we have been receiving new requests, which are constantly and rapidly increasing.”

“Through data monitoring, we planned a further increase for the following days, so we considered it essential to reorganise the activities within the Osio Sopra plant, concentrating resources in the production of oxygen.”

“The units in Lombardy, Cinisello Balsamo and Brescia, have also made a fundamental contribution.”

“At the peak, we decided to distribute part of the fillings, also involving the SIAD filling stations in Genoa, Avenza (Massa Carrara) and Trieste, which responded instantly.”

“The main critical step was the finding of new cylinders, because we found that those already in circulation had not returned because of the widespread use.”

“So we prepared 4,000 containers, including retested and new ones, in collaboration with our suppliers, including Tenaris.”

Before it can be filled with medicinal oxygen, a new cylinder must be assembled and subjected to specific analyses and checks to ensure it meets safety standards.

“This is a technical process,” explains Carelli, “which starts with an inspection of the external and internal cylinder with special lamps capable of showing the accidental presence of foreign elements.”

“Subsequently, the cylinder is subjected to a thorough drying process by blowing in ultra-dry gas to eliminate all traces of residual moisture. Finally, the valve and protective cap are fitted.”

“In the case of non-new containers, which must be tested every ten years, these must also undergo a hydraulic test at 300 bar to ensure their integrity and safe use.”

“In recent weeks, particularly since 6th March, the main activity has been the fitting out of new cylinders, thanks also to the staff at the Cuneo centre who have supported us.”

“At the Osio Sopra plant, we created a dedicated line, almost an assembly line, which allowed us, thanks to the great availability of each collaborator, to reach these numbers.”

From those who gave the maximum commitment, working from home for the analysis of the requests, the organisation of the production according to the urgencies, to those who put all the energies in the departments to guarantee the continuity of the process, one single motivation gave an enormous boost: “The ability to say that we did our part and put all the energies without ever pulling back, to help those who were sick,” concluded Minissale and Carelli.