Hosted by gasworld Global Managing Editor, Rob Cockerill, Part One explored various US-based trends, challenges and opportunities with guests Josh Pringle, Executive Vice President, CO2 Meter, Jim Appledorn, Appledorn Research and Consulting Services LLC, and Nick Marco, Sr. Business Development Manager, Industrial Gas at Wise Telemetry.
Pringle was first up, discussing the opportunities for carbon dioxide (CO2) in the US.
Stating that he believes the market for CO2 and other gases in the US is ‘still enormous’, Pringle added that, although consolidation exists at the major player level, massive opportunities exist at the independent distributor level across all the gases and equipment.
“I think the other thing that people should understand and consider is that it’s not just an opportunity based off of expansion or opportunities for growth in the market from a gas perspective, but also from a segment perspective.”
Giving an example of growth also accelerating from an application and technological perspective, Pringle said that, ten years ago, CO2 Meter made around 50 or 60 different devices, but today that number has rocketed to more than 350.
“That’s because we continue to have customers approach us and want us to make devices for new applications,” he said.
When asked about the potential for diversification of the CO2 supply chain, he referred to applications for clean energy, such as hydrogen, stating that there is a ‘thirst’ for information about hydrogen.
“I think all the other gas markets and especially the growth of some hydrogen are going to be huge opportunities for folks in the US and across the world.”
Other applications that could help diversify the industry is CO2 capture, which could involve capturing the gas for utilisation purposes from sources such as biogas.
“We’ve seen huge growth in that market in the last five to six years. There are challenges when people are trying to measure what the input is versus the output and those challenges for something like CO2 capture, the big one is how clean is the gas?”
Next up was Appledorn, an industry veteran having spent 43 years with Lincoln Electric. He was asked to give viewers an insight into how the gas and welding distribution industry has evolved over the last 40 years.
“I think the changes have been obvious in terms of products. Back in the 70s we were still selling motor generator welding machines that were the size of small cars, “ he replied. “That evolved into transformer rectifier technology and solid state machines, ultimately evoling into inverter machines.”
Automation has also proved to be an ever changing part of industry, with applications seen across a range of sectors including adaptive manufacturing.
Safety and training has also seen huges changes, with Appledorn stating that welding used to be a ‘dark and dangerous business’.
“Safety is a much more front and centre issues though these days,” he added.
In a world of zoom meetings and home working, training has also adapted to suit modern lifestyles. Virtual training has made it possible for students to become proficient at welding ‘without even striking an arc’, according to Appledorn.
He also expounded upon market consolidation as mentioned by Pringle, saying that despite consolidation, the US market has seen a few major players emerge.
An increase in independent distributors has also seen the proliferation of e-commerce related distribution.
Partnerships and expansion
Only recently signing a significant partnership with Ratermann Manufacturing, Wise Telemetry is a young company which has made a considerable impact in the industrial gas industry with its remote monitoring devices and services.
A graduate of Linde North America’s leadership development programme, Marco revealed the key trends being in the US market at the moment.
“We’re definitely observing an expanded interest by the distributor base and monitoring more assets beyond just bulk tanks. I’ve definitely noticed an acceleration in that trends over this year.”
Following the Ratermann partnership, he elaborated on the nature of such partnerships to better serve a growing customer base, in addition to the growth in partnerships themselves as digitisation of industry accelerates further.
“I think one of the challenges that we’re all going to collectively face is to actually physically get hardware on assets of all types and sizes, and this type of partnership is going to facilitate that.”
When asked about potential opportunities in gas monitoring that are still waiting to be realised, Marco said that there’s still a lot of ‘runway’ in assisting customers on deployments of bulk tanks, as well as the deployment of NVIOT (Network Vendors Interoperability Testing Forum), a lower power, wider area network.
He added, “You can apply this technology to various other aspects of the supply chain and aspects of the industry, it’s hard to tell where it could go.”
Looking to 2022, Marco revealed that exciting times lie ahead with the opening of Wise Telemetry’s new facility, which is set to help the company make the most of the industrial gas sector’s true land of opportunity.
If you enjoyed this week’s webinar focusing on ’Lands of Opportunity’, don’t forget to register for Part 2 at gasworld.tv.