Efficiency operations and safety trends have been in the spotlight on the final day of gasworld’s South East Asia 2016 Industrial Gas Conference, as the curtain falls on the company’s third event to be held in the region.

Hosted at the Shangri-La Hotel in in the heart of Bangkok, Thailand, over 220 delegates from 31 countries have experienced a cutting-edge agenda over the past two days, with engaging speeches from industry insiders and 35 promotional booths on display.

Whilst day one of the conference set the scene with general market updates and an exploration of the hot topics in the South East Asian industrial gas industry, day two examined the application drivers and gas operations across the region with a nod to updated safety and responsibility regulations driving efficiency improvements across the region.

As Marcus Creaven, Managing Director of AGC Instruments Ltd and Chair of the fifth session, highlighted, “ASEAN is the future area of growth where everywhere else is stagnant.” With this in mind, day two of the conference discussed what steps industrial gas companies can now take to maximise their presence in South East Asia.

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Application drivers

The first session concentrated on the main application drivers within the industry for the region, examining topics such as food freezing and healthcare.

Dohmeyer’s Fabian Van Damme was first to the stage, presenting on food freezing and the challenges that the Asian market is currently facing. When asked his opinion on how the Asian market will evolve over the next 10 years, he said it would double. “The Asian market is a very challenging one,” he continued, “the GDP is doing better than average but the population is growing rapidly and they all need food, they need access to healthcare and life sciences – all elements that are key to our success in cryogenic freezing.”

“But also, freezing equipment has been imported and what I am seeing are the ‘bad copies’ that aren’t up to date today. Because of that, many customers in Asia have a bad experience with cryogenic food freezing, not being competitive, efficient or hygienic. So, Dohmeyer are challenging the fact that we have to wipe out the bad memories and start again – importing new technologies and not only focusing on food but also looking at recycling. There are more challenges here in this region than anywhere else in the world.”

So, what were his remedies to these challenges? “First of all, we need to invest in new equipment,” Van Damme urged. “Today, the gas companies are losing business to conventional systems because they are still using old equipment. Secondly, the equipment is not up to date; the hygienic design of the equipment is important today because of higher standards. The life sciences is a new market and is still growing although cryogenics isn’t new but there is a lot of business to do in this market,” he concluded.

Chwee Foon of The Linde Group was next to present, discussing healthcare with a clear message that South East Asia needs to adhere to and standardise healthcare regulations in order for the region’s medical gases industry to advance.

“The regulatory for medical gases in Asia is still very much underdeveloped compared to more mature markets like the US and Europe”

Chwee Foon, Health of Healthcare Asia Pacific, The Linde Group

Having spearheaded the geographical of expansion of the Tier One group across Asia, Foon outlined, “Quality and standards are such critical aspects of our healthcare markets because the consequences of providing sub-standard medical gases can have catastrophic consequences.”

“In medical emergencies there is no second chance,” she continued. “Say the valve didn’t open or the oxygen didn’t arrive in time – there is no room for error. So, having a quality framework and management system is so critically important. It means having a well-defined product specification and a manufacturing process that is consistently supplied to ensure that we provide the right quality products to people that use it.”

“The regulatory for medical gases in Asia is still very much underdeveloped compared to more mature markets like the US and Europe.”

“This is our responsibility as an industry, to establish and institute the right quality standard for medical gases,” Foon underlined. So, what will it take? Foon stated a harmonised commitment to standard equality, investment in the right processes and combined resources as steps in the right direction.

Chetan Mittal of Haldor Topsoe was next to take to the stage as he presented his company’s brand new technology for small-scale, onsite carbon monoxide from non-hazardous carbon dioxide. Featuring a modular design and flexible flow rates, Mittal underlined the crossover that this technology could have in the industrial gas industry saying, “I am sure you can use this technology to facilitate your businesses.”

Cold Jet’s Sales Manager Distribution Channels Asia Henning Lyager closed the session with a presentation on how dry ice production is developing and the changing applications driving growth across Asia, especially in the food industry.

Gas operations

The agenda then moved onto a session that aimed to educate delegates on gas operations within the region, with the overriding idea of incorporating new digital technologies innovating business efficiency.

gasworld’s CEO John Raquet said, “One of the key things about the gases industry is that you have to strive to become more efficient.” With that in mind, the session began with a presentation on the trends and challenges in bulk distribution across borders from Keerin Chutumstid, Managing Director of Kiattana Transport.

“There are so many roads that are planned to develop, but there are problems in the countries themselves to complete roads and infrastructure,” Chutumstid reinforced. “But there will be significant improvements in terms of the road network in the sub-macro region in the coming years.”

Chutumstid explained that Kiattana Transport are actively incorporating more technologies in order to improve safety across its operations, underpinning the main themes of the day.

Hans Kok from Den Hartogh then focused on third party transportation logistics before Min Zhou of Thingple, Inc. closed the session with a vision into gas assets and how the internet of things (IoT) is driving change.

logistics distribution concept

Zhou explained, “I think that in the future, buying gas will be much like buying consumer goods today – making your asset visible will break down barriers. Today’s way of traditional industry is going to be revolutionised.”

Zhou revealed that in China alone there are around 14,000 gas filling facilities and 140 million cylinders, affirming, “It’s a hugely fragmented industry.”

She described asset tracking in the industrial gas industry as “really complicated.”

“The tag itself needs to be industrial grade and needs to be impact resistant and strong to not fall off your item. Because of the magnetic waves it needs to have an un-interfered gas signal, which is especially hard in the cylinder business where there is a lot of metal.”

But with the rise of digitisation infiltrating every corner of the industry, she said, “A lot of big companies are waking up to their assets and want to know how to make them smarter to become more visible. There is no way that you can visually see the big companies’ cylinders at the moment, so this is going to revolutionise manufacturing in a big way – and we are just at the beginning of it.”

Safety and responsibility

After a delicious lunch and valuable networking opportunity sponsored by India-based manufacturer, importer and exporter of specialty, industrial, liquid and rare gas products Bhuruka Gases, the final session of the conference concluded with a special thought-provoking session dedicated to safety and responsibility.

Secretary General of the Asia Industrial Gas Association (AIGA), Milan Sarkar was joined on stage by the Siam Industrial Gas Association (SIGA) President, Wichit Sophitanontrat, who both spoke about their associations, the composition of its members, and how each association has contributed to the betterment of safety and regulations in the industrial gas industry in Thailand and across the wider Asian region.

“This is going to revolutionise manufacturing in a big way – and we are just at the beginning of it”

Min Zhou, Chairman, Thingple, Inc.

Sarker highlighted, “Asia Pacific is the largest developing region and the fastest growing region in the world. There is a lot of activity a lot of growth in this region but that brings a lot of challenges on keep this industry and the environment safe.” But Sophitanontrat’s reassuring parting message was that he believes all incidents will be preventable by introducing harmonised regulations.

The final session of the day and closing the event was a humourous yet hard-hitting presentation from Mack Valves Director, Ravin Mirchandani, who brought home the importance of social responsibility and how corporate sustainable responsibility brings endless benefits to business.

Raquet offered a few parting words to bring the curtain down on the event, stating, “The aim was to leave from Bangkok richer in knowledge, contacts and hopefully richer from business that you have engaged in, especially the booth holders and the sponsors, and we look forward to hosting the next one in the region.”

Review

A full review of the conference will be published in the upcoming January edition of gasworld magazine.