Having undergone a complete overhaul, the Finnish plant, which produces more than 200 different gas mixtures and nearly 700,000 cylinders per year, is the first-ever fully automated filling plant for gas cylinders in the world. The cornerstone of the modernised plant is its automated filling equipment – known as the carousel.
Before a cylinder is filled, it is inspected by a scanner, and, once it passes the test, the machine attaches an adapter to it. The carousel has two different filling points, which can use different gas mixtures at one time. The robotic system can store up to 3,200 cylinders and also remembers the exact client and destination for every single cylinder. When the time comes to deliver the gas, the robot sends the ordered products to self-operating vehicles, or automated guided vehicles (AGVs), which, in turn, bring the cylinders to the terminal where the order is loaded for delivery.
The re-vamp has significantly changed the day-to-day life of the people working at the Riihimäki plant. With machines handling the movement of heavy cylinders, much of the lifting and risky work is removed from the human workers. The machinery is quieter, while updated lighting has created a more comfortable working environment.
Linde has always upheld safety as a priority, and the fully automated plant has taken this to a new level – something that is already reflected in the Linde Group’s internal statistics. While there were 150 forklift-related accidents worldwide in 2013, the number in 2017 was down by half – an improvement that is in part thanks to the use of AGVs.