BOC – Cooking on gas

Posted on 21 Dec 2015 by Callum Bentley

Federico Ercoli travels up North to Immingham and tours BOC’s new acetylene plant

BOC’s new plant houses 22km of instrument cabling; 12km of power cabling; 5km of piping; more than 8000 welds, and 272 instruments.

These figures are impressive, particularly as BOC’s new plant is an addition to the 1993 site and not a stand alone facility.

BOC, member of the Linde Group and the biggest industrial gas company in the UK, has invested £35m, including £1.5m from the Regional Growth Fund in the development of the new plant.

Entirely dedicated to the production of acetylene, the facility has a fully linked communication system that allows the production software, stock control and cylinder tracking to communicate with each other in real time. This allows BOC to successfully support a wide market that includes automotive, defence and medical industries.

Managing director, Sue Graham Johnston said the investment already proved fruitful and that it will allow the company to grow, “For us it was a great opportunity to invest in the local community, to add jobs to the local area and to secure a supply chain of acetylene for the UK going forward.

The new BOC Acetylene facility in Immingham.
The new BOC Acetylene facility in Immingham.

“From an output perspective, the plant is capable of delivering 100% of the requirements for the UK and Ireland, so technically we could be self-sufficient for acetylene for all of Great Britain.”

Built on a relatively small piece of land in BOC’s site in North East Lincolnshire, the plant is not only an engineering first, it’s also aligned with the company’s commitment to protect its local environment, as it’s built on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

But that’s not all. The new site allowed BOC to further expand its workforce and empower younger people to fill the recurring skills shortage in the industry.

“We have invested in a graduate programme and in an apprenticeships programme. We work very closely with the Government and with engineering agencies like IMechE to get more emphasis on STEM graduates and generate interest in engineering, so we can build that pipeline going forward.

“In light of the recent job cuts in the steel industry, we’ve been working […] to pick up some of the apprentices that were displaced through that process,” she adds.

Over a total of three sites in the UK, BOC now has 18 active apprentices on a three-year programme. “It’s something that we have been investing in. They will work on multiple sites in multiple projects, many of them here, to learn about our processes and then be able to bring those skills forward.”

With more than 100 years of experience, operations in 70 countries and over 50.000 employees worldwide, it is reassuring to see large manufacturers like BOC do not lose focus on future generations.