As a source of energy, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) is hard to beat. Easy to use, efficient, cost-competitive and environmentally-friendly – for both domestic and industrial use – its excellent properties are playing an active role in contributing towards a gas-powered economy.
Furthermore, from an LPG supplier perspective, the business is also evolving in a dynamic and exciting manner. “In the past, it was enough to ensure timeous and efficient supply of LPG to customers in the domestic, commercial and industrial sectors,” says Fred Royer, Managing Director of Easigas.
Easigas has always been a customer-oriented company which, through its efficient and reliable supply of LPG over many decades, has sought to promote quality and safety, while improving operational and manufacturing productivity and profitability – particularly of its commercial and industrial customers.
“However, business trends and requirements have evolved. If you are selling LPG energy, it is now not only essential to have a thorough understanding of one’s customers’ requirements, but also how the energy you supply them will be utilised, or the application thereof. This is especially important in these economically demanding times where energy – particularly if its usage is not correctly optimised and managed – can be one of the greatest industrial or manufacturing input costs,” explains Royer.
In line with the above trends, Easigas’s Commercial Technical Manager, Dave De Wit – who has more than three decades’ experience and understanding of gas-fired plant and equipment – will be leading an innovative value-adding initiative to Easigas’s customers in the commercial and industrial sector.
In terms of specifics, this additional service to customers is a form of diversification. While the company will remain a primary LPG supplier, it is diversifying into energy optimisation and management via this expanded service and value-add proposition.
”This will take the form of a multi-faceted energy monitoring and management service offering; which will also offer assistance to our commercial and industrial customers who need to be aligned with existing gas-related legislation,” De Wit advises.
In addition, Easigas’s new service will assist in the optimisation of customers’ combustion systems and burner management. Furthermore, when the time comes to alter plant or install new gas systems, Easigas will offer its customers professional advice on the gas equipment selection and installation thereof.
This new offering will dovetail nicely with the energy management programmes that many of the company’s commercial and industrial customers currently have in place. For example, those in the industrial or mining sectors which have fully-fledged energy departments managing steam, water and gas usage.
“We could assist them at many energy utilisation levels,” De Wit explains, adding that this development may in time also encourage large gas users in sectors such as those in the thermo-processing, power generation and petrochemical industries to migrate some or all their energy usage to gas.
“This service could also be particularly useful to geographically remote branches, which sometimes do not have the full in-house energy management resources as their main operations,” De Wit adds.
A further component to the energy monitoring and management service would be assisting companies with statutory compliance.
“The enforcement of statutory compliance deadlines, as defined in the Pressure Equipment Regulations (PER), are to be revised due to the prohibitive costs of upgrades required to ensure compliance,” says De Wit.
The Department of Labour will require that companies draw up a risk profile, and then schedule measures to be taken to ensure compliance in a series of manageable and affordable steps.
“This could potentially open up opportunities for industries such as glass manufacturing, steel manufacturing or pyro-metallurgical operations – and many others – to get their houses in order in a manageable progression.
Obviously, during this entire process of completing compliance, we will ensure that projects of this nature are methodically and safely carried out,” says De Wit. He adds that this will also involve the determination of priorities to manage the expenditure involved in the most cost-effective manner, and in line with operational budgets.
Regarding the energy monitoring component of the service – and the need for customers to be legally compliant – Easigas could offer a scheduled monitoring capability, regardless of whether it is linked to a statutory requirement or not. “If, for example, a burner nozzle or register should become inefficient (and ‘gas wasting’ ), by scheduled monitoring, we will detect this condition early and advise the customer accordingly,” De Wit continues.
Easigas will also be able to assist customers with burner equipment selection, optimisation, management and compliance. “With our continuous on-site monitoring frequency, customers would also comply more easily with emissions legislation,” he says.
Should a customer be considering installing or altering their combustion systems, Easigas will be able to supply projected gas consumption metrics; as well as burner installation and management advice.
“We would consult on best-fit burner practice and would extend this into burner system installation and project management if required. When one considers the current cost of consulting engineering, the cost-savings our service will offer could be very substantial indeed,” De Wit points out.
A further incentive for Easigas’s commercial and industrial customers to grasp this opportunity lies in South Africa’s changing environmental legislation, which will increasingly dictate that industries engage in environmentally-responsible energy utilisation.
He adds that similar services could in the future be extended to Easigas’s substantial domestic LPG market.
“We have already noted keen interest in this potential offering from certain prominent customers,” says De Wit.
“With this innovation, Easigas is at the forefront of the LPG supply sector: not only in responding to our valued commercial and industrial customers’ requirements for greater flexibility and accessibility to energy monitoring, optimization and management; but also to the imperatives of the Industry 4.0 trend of increasingly automated and integrated manufacturing.
Advanced telemetry systems that will be used in the ‘smart’ factory of tomorrow are also compatible with the LPG industry. Their applications range from LPG tank level monitoring, automatic meter readings and burner fuel consumption metering, to monitoring combustion efficiency. With these systems in place, there is added potential for greater productivity horizons,” he adds.
“The drive of the Industry 4.0 global initiative is towards increased efficiency and productivity. With our energy monitoring and management value-added service offering, we are able to assist our customers in improving their productivity, profitability and sustainability through optimal energy usage,” De Wit concludes.
Easigas (Pty) Ltd is 60% owned by Rubis Energie (France) with Reatile Gaz (South Africa) holding the balance of the shareholding. Easigas has been a leading supplier and distributor of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to the Southern African market for over 30 years. The company’s vision is to be the leader in the LPG business by moving to attractive market offers, adjusting to customer demand and being profitable in the countries where it chooses to operate.
Easigas’s mission is to consolidate both its position in the LPG market and its commitment to forging long-term partnerships with its customers, ensuring quality service is delivered efficiently and consistently. The company also strives to provide an entrepreneurial environment where employees are able to reach their full potential whilst delivering on the company’s objectives, standards and customer service principles.
Easigas applauds the South African government’s initiative, through the Department of Energy, which commits to the promotion of LPG use, which is cleaner and safer as an efficient burning energy source. In addition, Easigas fully supports government’s commitment to making LPG more affordable for cooking and heating to reduce the need for large investments in power generation.