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Digital technology at the heart of our plants

Leveraging its expertise in running production units and the multiple competencies acquired in recent years, Connect is part of Air Liquide’s quest to invent the plant of the future. Developed within Air Liquide France Industrie by multi-disciplinary teams, this project combines their skill set and the many possibilities offered by digital technologies: connected eyewear, tablets, 3D modeling, etc. Below, a review of these game-changing innovations.


new technologies tested

€20 million

invested by 2017


French start-ups involved

To think and act with agility

With Connect, Air Liquide is capitalizing on the optimal use of Big Data. The Group deploys its projects with agility, using its networks: Proof of Concept (POC) tests are conducted to validate technological avenues in collaboration with start-ups, mostly French. The passage from the design phase to the field test phase happens more rapidly.

Connect is being developed by a multi-disciplinary team supported by i-Lab, the Group’s innovation lab that bases its approach on usages, R&D, and information systems.

Connect is being developed by a multi-disciplinary team supported by i-Lab, R&D, and information systems
A center to pilot the production and consumption of energy of Large Industries sites in France.

A unique command center in our industry

In connection with the project, Air Liquide is creating a remote operation and optimization center that is unique in the industrial gas industry, capable of commanding and optimizing the production, energy efficiency and site reliability of Large Industries sites or performing predictive maintenance analysis. Some twenty Large Industries sites in France, which produce industrial gases – oxygen, nitrogen, argon, and hydrogen – and deliver them to industrial customers via pipelines spanning France, will be connected to this nationwide command center. Scheduled to begin operating in 2017, the center, located in the Lyon area, will pilot the production and consumption of energy, while teams based onsite will focus on the reliability, safety, and availability of equipment.

The Connect project received a technology showcase certification from the French association Alliance Industrie du Futur, which brings together trade organizations representing the industrial and digital sectors.


“We are proud to have been certified by the Alliance Industrie du Futur. With Connect, Air Liquide has completed an important step in its digital transformation by beginning the large-scale deployment of the factory of the future, nationwide.”

Guy Salzgeber, Executive Vice President, Europe Industries Hub Executive Vice President

Connected eyewear: visualizing information in augmented reality

Connected eyewear, integrated into a safety helmet, is being tested for feasibility. The eyewear gives vital information while allowing the wearer to maintain the use of his or her hands. A technician immediately visualizes the safety of the premises being visited, maintenance instructions, and information in real time. These glasses have an integrated camera that facilitates remote technical assessments or adjustments. To get a handle on the situation, it is necessary to see and hear what’s going on.

Thus equipped, a technician can transmit the sound and images from the environment to people in the remote support team. From his or her computer screen, the Air Liquide expert observes the situation and can offer visual instructions by indicating an area with the mouse. The image appears instantly in the glasses of the technician onsite.

Tablet: consult and enter data anywhere onsite

With the help of a tablet, the technician enters or accesses information in real time. No more trips back and forth between the office and the plant to consult or enter data.

Process parameters, video tutorials, technical documentation, inspection rounds, CAMM (computer-assisted maintenance management) – all are accessible using a tablet device. A real time saver on the job. This tool also allows the user to communicate in real time and by video with a remote Air Liquide expert if needed.

This tool allows the user to communicate in real time with an expert
With the help of a tablet, the technician enters or accesses information in real time.

3D scanning: 3D plans, retro-engineered

Thanks to the 3D scanner, highly detailed plans of installations as they are built can be rapidly drawn up in 3D. Outside areas and installations are scanned. During major maintenance shutdowns, technicians open the heart of the process of gas production (cold boxes, for example), which is a perfect time to scan the inside of the installation in 3D.

Detailed plans of installations as they are built drawn up in 3D
Thanks to the 3D scanner, highly detailed plans of installations as they are built can be rapidly drawn up in 3D.

Video tutorials

With a video, certain operating instructions and technical procedures become easier to understand and share. A new solution has been inspired by this observation and by drawing an analogy with popular tutorials. Technicians use a camera and software to film and comment on a very specific type of operation. The video tutorial is then entered into a database that is accessible to everyone, via computer or tablet. Thanks to these videos, which capture actual situations, it becomes easier to learn, troubleshoot, problem solve and verify.

Digital refresh: digital, intelligent document management

For all plants in France, nearly 100,000 technical documents are needed for operations and maintenance on the job. They must be digitized, easily accessible, up to date, and in compliance with internal validation processes when they are modified. Intelligent document management responds to the need technical teams have to establish links between files, index documents semi-automatically on the basis of their content, and enhance meta-data pathways. These systems facilitate document searches and improve the speed of document updates.

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Article published on November 01, 2017