Strong customer focus

Cylinder and liquefied gases

Linde supplies cylinder gases to around two million customers – primarily small and medium-sized enterprises – across a huge range of industries worldwide. Similar to the liquefied gases business, growth in this area is closely linked to industrial output. But demand is also driven by a supplier’s expertise in application technologies. Here, Linde has developed in-depth know-how and a rich portfolio with several hundred products supporting the most varied application spectrum. The company derives around 40 percent of its cylinder and liquefied gas revenue from precisely tailored solutions that meet individual customer requirements. Speciality gases are an excellent example of Linde’s bespoke offering.

Linde builds on its comprehensive expertise – flanked by a flexible, state-of-the-art network of filling stations – to support companies such as Kennametal Stellite (Koblenz, Germany), one of the world’s leading manufacturers of wear-resistant solutions.

“More than just molecules”

Kennametal Stellite GmbH is one of the world’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of wear-resistant solutions. To enable its wide-ranging coating, casting, welding, forming and machining processes, this long-established company relies on a full spectrum of liquefied and cylinder gases from Linde. Here, Marco Müllender, Team Leader Procurement, explains why his company also views Linde as much more than just a gas supplier.

Jasmin Lang, Project Manager at Kennametal Stellite, visits the company’s new gas supply facilities at its site in Koblenz (Germany), accompanied by Linde staff Harry Bentz (left), Sales/Application Technology, and Walter Gelhard (right), Regional Manager Sales. (Photo)

Jasmin Lang, Project Manager at Kennametal Stellite, visits the company’s new gas supply facilities at its site in Koblenz (Germany), accompanied by Linde staff Harry Bentz (left), Sales/Application Technology, and Walter Gelhard (right), Regional Manager Sales.

Melting the thermal-sprayed protective layer to bond the powder coating with the substrate. (Photo)

Melting the thermal-sprayed protective layer to bond the powder coating with the substrate.

Interview: Marco Müllender, Team Leader Procurement, Kennametal Stellite GmbH, Koblenz (Germany)

Choose a question

Mr Müllender, the gases Linde supplies you with include acetylene, nitrogen, oxygen, argon, ethene, helium and hydrogen. Which gas is the most important to your company?
A

For our complex, high-tech applications, success does not lie in one single gas, but rather in achieving the right balance between several different gases. And the most important factor is gas purity, since that’s the only way we can meet the strict quality standards that apply to our products and processes. These criteria are also considered when our site is evaluated for recertification.

Which of your production processes actually use these gases?
A

We use them in plasma powder welding, for instance, and in high-velocity oxyfuel (HVOF) spraying. Here Linde and Kennametal Stellite share a strong focus on quality and performance, making them ideal partners.

What are the target markets and sectors for your products?
A

Altogether, we supply 22 different industries with our high-quality products. Our customers include companies with global operations in energy production, automotive engineering, and crude oil and natural gas processing.

What is special about your collaboration with Linde?
A

As far as we’re concerned, Linde is much more than just a gas supplier – the company offers more than just molecules. Particularly in occupational safety and process optimisation, Linde is a key full-line provider, as we experienced when setting up the central gas supply scheme on our premises. With Linde’s assistance, we were able to shift sources of potential hazard away from the production area and increase the safety of our welding staff. The pipeline system is located partly underground and partly within the facility, allowing the supply to be regulated separately for each work area. Linde’s flame monitoring system rounds out this improvement in workplace safety, on the one hand shutting off the supply as soon as the flame is extinguished, and on the other, enabling safe ignition. Linde staff members also inspect the fittings each time a cylinder bundle is changed.

You also mentioned process optimisation – what are the benefits of partnering with Linde here?
A

There are many … for instance, a joint project team developed a three-flame burner that allows us to keep components at the right temperature throughout the relevant process and ensure the required coating is of optimum quality. With support from Linde’s experts, we succeeded in making this step significantly more stable.

And what about the actual gas supply?
A

Here, again, Linde is highly innovative and applies sophisticated technology such as remote monitoring for gas tanks. This has helped us enhance our security of supply. A degree of flexibility is also important to us. Recently, for example, we constructed a large oxygen tank on site to optimise supply logistics.

For your company’s operations, though, industrial gases are just one resource among many …
A

… but a very important one! Gases are essential to our processes. At the same time, dealing with industrial gases comes with strict requirements in terms of workplace safety and environmental protection. The point of withdrawal must always be in excellent condition, for instance.

And Linde helps with that too?
A

Yes, we have signed a service agreement with Linde, which covers maintenance of the entire supply system – starting with the feed points and extending right through to the point of use, safety equipment included. Linde’s services also comprise annual seminars to provide basic and further training for our staff. This means we can ensure systems inspection and maintenance in line with the DIN 31051 standard, and – even more importantly – take care of the health and safety of our staff.

Could you outline what that entails in detail?
A

Linde carries out hazard assessments in relation to the gases and then works with our experts to devise safety concepts for different applications, for example. Additionally, as a technology partner, Linde regularly gets involved in improving existing processes and developing new workflows. Pooling our expertise allows us to create a suitable working environment to meet our customers’ steadily increasing product requirements and ensure the safety of our processes. Indeed, a strong customer focus and maximum safety for our staff are key elements of the Kennametal strategy. And rising to these challenges over the long term calls for a reliable partner.

For Marco Müllender (right), Team Leader Procurement at Kennametal, occupational safety and ongoing process optimisation are key priorities. (Photo)

For Marco Müllender (right), Team Leader Procurement at Kennametal, occupational safety and ongoing process optimisation are key priorities.

Linde supplies certain gases in cylinder bundles to its customer Kennametal Stellite. (Photo)

Linde supplies certain gases in cylinder bundles to its customer Kennametal Stellite.

If a customer requires high volumes of a gas, Linde can also install tanks on site, as here for ethene gas. (Photo)

If a customer requires high volumes of a gas, Linde can also install tanks on site, as here for ethene gas.

Kennametal Stellite uses a range of thermal spraying techniques to apply wear-resistant coating to various base materials. (Photo)

Kennametal Stellite uses a range of thermal spraying techniques to apply wear-resistant coating to various base materials.

Market leader with a broad customer base

Linde is the global market leader in both the cylinder and liquefied gases business. In each of these product areas, the company maintains a highly diversified customer base across a wide range of industries. Linde’s customers benefit from the company’s in-depth application know-how. In addition, Linde constantly develops new areas of application for its gases, while enhancing and optimising existing process technologies

Liquefied gases

Liquefied gases (pie chart)

Cylinder gases

Cylinder gases (pie chart)

Innovative gas applications for lasting customer value

Innovative gas applications for lasting customer value (pie chart)