Air Liquide Launches Remote Plant Management
French industrial gases giant Air Liquide has inaugurated its new remote operation center at St. Pries, France, near Lyon, which it claims is a “first” for the gases industry.
Built at a cost of €20 million, the center, part of the company’s Connect project, will enable the remote management for 22 of its production units in France. It is designed to optimize energy consumption and improve reliability of production as well as the delivery of gases to customers.
Air Liquide said the new facility will function like a control tower. Capable of stopping or restarting a site remotely, it will oversee customers’ needs for oxygen, nitrogen, argon and hydrogen. The concept is that the workflows of each unit can be adapted in real time and production levels adjusted as needed. Additionally, it can offer “predictive maintenance” for sites by identifying the signals that precede a malfunction.
Within the plants being monitored, the world’s largest gases producer said new technologies such as touchscreen tablets, 3D scanning or video tutorials will be introduced to simplify maintenance and inspection management operations as well as oversee the organization of daily tasks for operators. Algorithms devised by Air Liquide engineers will be 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.
Air Liquide said its new remote operation center is certified by France’s Industry of the Future Alliance (Alliance Industrie du Futur) as a “technological showcase.”