Digitisation in the gases industry and technology shifts in gases and applications have been the focus on the final day of the Asia-Pacific 2018 Conference, as the curtain falls on gasworld’s fourth event held in the region.

More than 240 delegates from 27 countries (and nearly 60 visitors to the exhibition area) joined the gasworld team at the Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel for the two-day conference, which featured engaging speeches from industry insiders and 39 promotional booths on display.

Under the theme Business Models & Tools for Success, day one of the conference set the scene exploring industrial gas business models, trending gases and safety and security. Day two provided a platform for more exploration of the trends emerging the world over for the gases industry and how these may affect business in the Asia-Pacific region.

Session 4 Asia SPEAKERS

Martyn Hammond, gasworld’s Publishing Director, opened day two, revealing the total number of delegates and visitors, as of this morning, has reached 307.

Chairing session four was Shashidhara Siddamallapa, from the Board of Directors of Bhuruka Gases, who introduced the first speaker Bernard Dhainaut, Air Liquide’s Vice-President for Southeast Asia and Pacific region.

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Dhainaut’s presentation covered the digitisation of Air Liquide operations, in particular in Southeast Asia. Smart and Innovative Operations (SIO) is part of NEOS, the strategic programme driving the Air Liquide Group. With NEOS, Air Liquide will be able to deliver a long-term performance driven by customer centric transformation and innovation.

“SIO leverages on a reinforced real time optimisation, a high competency of remote operations, predictive maintenance, big data and analytics to improve the level of operational excellence and the customer experience,” he explained.

Dhainaut also showcased how SIO has been deployed across Southeast Asia.

“Acting as the nerve centre for SIO, the centralised remote operations and control centre, located in Kuala Lumpur, was commissioned in 2017, operating on a 24/7 basis. Automation, digitalisation, data analytics and expertise form the four pillars in this operating excellence.”

“Inaugurated in January 2018, we cover eight countries in Southeast Asia and Pacific, including: Thailand, Phillipines, Vietnam, Singapore, Indoesia, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. It is a large area and a diverse area in terms of technology and maturity.”

“The benefits of SIO include: developing industrial maturity through a pool of cluster-based experts and enhances decision-making processes through data, collaboration and empowered clusters.”

Dhainaut showed the following video to delegates:

Next up, gasworld’s Global Managing Editor Rob Cockerill switched the focus to e-Commerce and industrial gases.

“The industrial gases business is still very traditional in how it operates, based upon strong cultural and organisational paradigms. It’s still very customer-facing and local in nature,” Cockerill explained.

“As a result, e-commerce essentially changes that business model, that culture, within our industry. It’s essentially a paradigm shift. And that creates confusion, anxiety, even fear.”

“I think there’s a greater acceptance now that established forces such as Amazon cannot scratch the surface of the knowledge and expertise required in our industry, for the time being at least. There’s more thinking around how the industry can turn e-commerce into an opportunity itself.”

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“So where are we at with e-commerce and industrial gases?” he questioned. “As I understand it, there is more going on in e-commerce than we might first give the industry credit for.”

Cockerill explained that digital technologies and e-commerce are nothing new for the gases industry, and that the industry generally has its house “well in order” when it comes to enterprise resource planning or ERP, and has done for some time. Core modules of ERP such as HR, accounting and billing, CRM and business intelligence have all been well honed through the years, he added.

When it comes to e-commerce, however, Cockerill said, “We could argue that e-commerce is the digital function that is most wanting in the gases industry. ERP systems for e-commerce are only really used for automated billing, with click-to-buy software an add-on to ERP systems.”

But efforts are being made to change this, and Cockerill proceeded to explore various examples of e-commerce in practice before underlining the importance of this as a business tool for the digital age – urging industry participants to take advantage of the opportunities available to them and not get left behind the curve.

“We are heavily invested in using digital technologies for our administrative and logistical operations, but we need to be more open and strategic in using them as a sales and marketing tool,” he concluded.

“The proliferation in e-commerce continues apace and is almost inevitable in the gases industry. But that doesn’t have to be an erosion of the personable relationship in our industry – it can be an opportunity to extend the personal services you offer to your customers, both new and existing alike.”

“What you make of e-commerce could determine the success of your investment, and your business as a whole.”

TrackAbout’s Vice-President of Sales Asia and Middle East, Doug O’Dell, closed the session with a presentation about global trends in cylinder tracking.

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Centred around the adoption of Android and iOS phones/tablets, along with the decline in the traditional Windows Mobile devices, O’Dell also covered the reasons behind the global acceptance and growth of serialised cylinder tracking.

 He listed some global trends in serialised cylinder tracking, including: 

  • Devices driving tag choices
  • Digitised forms (eg truck pre-trip inspection records, maintenace records, fill records)
  • Gas use/loss calculation with fill scans
  • Cylinder manufacturing adopting “tracking ready” concept
  • Universal tracking labels
  • Real-time production data using fill scans

Concluding, O’Dell said, “Anybody who’s not electronically capturing your records, your cylinders, your assets, your business in general, this is all trying to tell you story, are you listening? Once you start getting that information, you’d be amazed what you can do with it.”

Technology shifts

Session 5 Asia SPEAKERS

After a short coffee break, delegates and speakers returned for the final session of the conference, chaired by Nizam Ismail, VRV’s Sales Director for the Cryogenic Division in the Asia Pacific region.

Henning Lyager, Cold Jet’s Sales Manager for Distribution Channels in Asia and Middle East, explored the trends in dry ice production and the dry ice production of tomorrow, how to cut production costs and how to increase quality. He also touched on the subject ‘on-site dry ice production’.

Lygager said the global and regional challenges and demands are as follows:

  • CO2 sources are limited or unstabe in some countries
  • Liquid CO2 or dry is monopolised in some countries = customers does not have equal access
  • Long distances from dry ice production plants to the applications = huge loss of dry ice
  • More focus on cost reduction and down time
  • New applications and demands for cooling and cleaning = increased dry ice demand in volumes
  • Increasing demand for dry ice in small volumes

Summarising his presentation, Lygager said, “Dry ice is no longer what it was yesterday. Customers will require better access to liquid CO2, the demand will increase and there will be more local production sites. Local or even onsite production of dry ice will increase in order to reduce loss of dry ice.”

“Production equipment that produces more efficiently and at lower costs will be required – this will include automation, flexible production and more advanced production technology.”

“New technologies, such as online monitoring and a fast service network, that reduces the down time and maintenance costs will be more important. New applications of dry ice will increase, such as fresh food home deliveries.”

“And finally, onsite production equipment will serve the demand for small quantities.”

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The final session of the conference came from Mark McKechnie, Business Manager at Chart Industries who discussed the role of MicroBulk Systems in the supply chain and explained how to reduce cost without compromising on safety.

McKechnie defined MicroBulk as a skid-mounted tank, sized to bridge the gap between packaged gas users and bulk. It allows larger packaged gas users to have the benefits of a bulk system without the expense of bulk tank infrastructure, or the worry of vent losses. Customers using >2 dewars per month or >15* HP cylinders per month are good candidates for MicroBulk.

“But why MicroBulk? It moves molecules instead of metal. It allows you to customise your product offering and fills the gap between HP/liquid cylinders and bulk. 20 HP cylinders = 1 x 230L MicroBulk.”

McKechnie gave some examples of the benefits of MicroBulk, including:

  • Replaces HP cylinders, HP cylinder packs and/or dewars - dedicated tank never leaves customer site
  • Provides onsite, uninterupted gas supply - tank levels can be monitored by solar cellular telemetry unit
  • Avoids hassles and dangers of moving cylinders, cylinder banks and heavy liquid dewars - improves employee safety and reduces and/or eliminates down time
  • Reduces overall gas supply costs by eliminating residual, unused gas - can be as high as 15-20%

Concluding, McKechnie said following Chart’s recent acquisition of VRV, Chart is now the largest cryogenic manufacturing company in the world. “I’m going to end with this quote and it’s something I often say to people. You may never use the products we make, but everyone uses the products we make possible.”

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gasworld’s Publishing Director Martyn Hammond offered a few parting words to bring the curtain down on the event, stating, “I’d like to round up today and thank all of you, the speakers, the chair people and all of the delegates and visitors that have joined us over the last two days.”

”I’d also like to thank the people that we probably don’t recognise – the team at the Renaissance Hotel, the event guys - who are probably one of the best teams we’ve ever worked with - and finally I’d like to thank the gasworld team who have worked tirelessly to make this event a success.”

“Thanks to all of you for coming and we hope to see you again next time.”

Review

A full review of the conference will be published in the first print edition of gasworld Global’s 2019 magazine.