Air Liquide inaugurated today in France, in the frame of the Connect project, an operation center that is unique in the industrial gas sector. It enables the remote management of production for 22 of the Group’s units in France, optimizing their energy consumption and improving their reliability. With “technological showcase” certification from the Industry of the Future Alliance1, Connect represents an investment of €20 million2. This project is based on the implementation of new digital technologies at French production sites and on the creation of new skills.
Like a control tower, the remote operation and optimization center, located near Lyon, in Saint-Priest, has a nationwide vision of customer needs for oxygen, nitrogen, argon and hydrogen. Capable of stopping or restarting a site remotely, the center adapts the production level of the plants according to customer demand. Thanks to this center, the workflows of each unit are adapted in real time to the needs of each customer. The volume of production and the delivery of gases to customers are optimized throughout the country.
Through the analysis of big data 24/7 for 22 sites in France, Air Liquide is developing predictive maintenance for production sites by identifying the weak signals that precede a malfunction. Algorithms devised by Air Liquide engineers are used to fine-tune equipment adjustments in plants in order to optimize energy consumption, leveraging nearly 15 years of data gathered from all industrial sites.
In the plants, new technologies (touch tablets, 3D scanning, video tutorials, etc.) are also being introduced to simplify maintenance and inspection management operations and the organization of daily tasks for operators.
The remote operation and optimization center has given rise to new skills: “real-time pilots” who are in constant contact with sites and “analysts” who study the production and optimization of energy consumption.
With the creation of the operating center and the introduction of new technologies into the daily work of production unit technicians, Connect is part of Air Liquide's open innovation approach between production sites teams, i-Lab, the innovation lab of Air Liquide, and the French ecosystem of technology start-ups.
Guy Salzgeber, Senior Vice-President and member of the Air Liquide Group’s Executive Committee supervising Europe Industries, said: "We are proud to implement the first industrial gases remote operation center, which contribute to strengthen the Group's competitiveness. The Group's digital transformation is taking a new step, enabling Air Liquide to even better anticipate the needs of its industrial customers while strengthening the reliability of its production units."
1The Industry of the Future Alliance (Alliance Industrie du Futur) brings together professionals from industry and digital fields
2 Air Liquide investment decision in the first half of 2016
Air Liquide France Industrie is a subsidiary of the Air Liquide Group and brings together all of the Group’s industrial gases production and commercialization activities in France, with 3 complementary business lines: Large Industries, Industrial Merchant, and Electronics. The subsidiary has nearly 2,400 employees working at 80 sites located across France and helping more than 300,000 customers optimize their performance durably: from craftsmen to petrochemical companies and from testing laboratories to the automobile, aerospace, steel and agrifood industries.