375 000 gas cylinders a year. Lead time: 24 hours

Chris Lewis, Facility Manager at Air Liquide Coleshill
Entrepreneurs & Professionals
16 October 2018

Packaged gas - the supply of industrial gases in gas cylinders and bundles - has been and continues to be one of the most important sectors of Air Liquide’s business. Chris Lewis Facility Manager at the Air Liquide site in Coleshill (United Kingdom), explains how the cylinders are filled safely and accurately.

The story begins with empty gas cylinders. These are collected from Air Liquide’s customers and then delivered to our site in Coleshill. “We process to a pre-fill inspection following standard operating procedures and we check the information according to the product we also gather homogeneous 12 cylinders into a pallet.” 
Depending on the type of gas, the cylinder has a specific colour code. (Air Liquide UK had adhered to the EIGA nomenclature to standardise the colour of the “shoulder” of the cylinders, depending on the content.) Each cylinder also has a ‘banana label’, which includes the mandatory UN number (a four-digit number identifying hazards) and the name of the product.

Check and pressure test

In the next phase, the cylinders are inspected once again. This will include checking whether the banana labels are still legible and whether the cylinders are damaged or soiled. “If this is the case, cylinders are removed from circulation and must first be retested. We also perform a pressure test and check the valves. We also check whether there are sufficient residual pressure in the cylinder. A small amount of residual gas should always be left behind, as this will prevent the cylinders from becoming contaminated inside, this is for safety and quality purposes.”

The right gas in the right cylinder

“Based on the orders we receive several times a day, we place the required cylinders – which have already been thoroughly inspected – in the filling systems. Some cylinders are filled on the basis of weight, others on the basis of pressure and temperature. Before the actual filling starts, we carry out another number of checks.
That way we can be sure that the right gas is going into the right cylinder. After filling, we check the temperature of the cylinder and perform a leak test. In addition, samples are regularly taken to monitor quality on an ongoing basis.”

300 vs 200 bar

“At the site in Coleshill, up to five gases can be combined in one cylinder. The more complex, custom-to-order gas mixtures are filled at the Air Liquide site in Gellep, Germany.

“We fill some 375,000 cylinders a year at our site. And if we receive an order on a working day, thanks to our flowing supply chain we can be able to deliver the cylinders the next working day.”

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