Written by Martin Barrs, Global Key Account Manager at Luxfer Gas Cylinders

In common with many sectors, the healthcare industry has a growing commitment to make its services more sustainable, and this has manifested in a drive for planet-friendly cylinder technology. Luxfer Gas Cylinders has long established itself as a trusted supplier of high-performance, lightweight cylinders for a range of applications, including homecare, hospitals, dental clinics, and veterinary surgeries. And with over one million oxygen cylinders sold globally since 2016, and currently, more than 15 million in active use worldwide, Luxfer can offer a comprehensive range of cylinder technologies to meet diverse – and changing – needs of its customers.

Embracing eco-friendly cylinder technology

Luxfer’s proprietary L7X® alloy is used to produce high-strength oxygen cylinders that offer up to 50% more gas capacity than similarly sized options. At Luxfer, we have championed the adoption of 300-bar cylinders, and we are observing that healthcare customers are recognising the advantages of higher gas capacity, which include:

– Fewer oxygen cylinder changeovers
– Reduced need for refills – and therefore reduced transportation and handling requirements
– Lower operating costs
– A more environmentally friendly footprint.

A win-win for patient and planet

Offering our healthcare customers a range of options across oxygen cylinder type and capacity is paramount. Luxfer has the capability to do this because of its engineering excellence, combined with a legacy in pioneering research and development.

A core consideration in oxygen cylinder selection is weight. Lighter oxygen cylinders are more portable, and fewer oxygen cylinders with more gas capacity offer convenience because they reduce storage requirements. It makes using our L7X cylinders a win-win for the patient and the planet.

Luxfer’s range includes the in-demand Type 1 aluminium cylinder, alongside the Type 2 hoop wrapped cylinder, which delivers the benefit of additional weight reduction. We also offer a Type 3 fully composite cylinder, with portable 1L and 2L variants being popular in a variety of healthcare environments.

Focus on: the NLL Type 3 Oxygen Cylinder

The non-limited life (NLL) M10J Type 3 cylinder is an addition to our medical line, with key benefits including:

– Extending the product lifespan beyond the typical 15-year and 20-years available
– Helping demonstrate value around total cost of ownership
– Offering an ultra-lightweight cylinder with improved levels of performance, durability, and capacity
– Using Luxfer’s L6X® aluminium alloy as an inner liner, reinforced with an aerospace-grade carbon fibre wrap. 

Market demand beyond the pandemic

The market for medical cylinders is mature, but with innovation in Luxfer’s DNA, we introduced two new products within two years of the pandemic. Interestingly, while hospital demand for liquid oxygen spiked during COVID-19, with vulnerable patients shielding it meant that the need for gaseous oxygen within the homecare sector remained relatively stable.

During this challenging period it was Luxfer’s dependability that most highly prized by medical customers. And while the marketplace was disrupted and demand hard to forecast, we could offer continuity of service, relying on our highly developed supply chains to support others. The task at hand was to help customers and be a trusted partner, helping them to determine what asset coverage they had, and what they needed. We were able to focus resources, creating value, supporting the market and ultimately patients.

Luxfer’s commitment to sustainable manufacturing

Luxfer’s corporate strategy has sustainability at its heart, underpinning Luxfer’s progressive approach to manufacturing, which has been transformational. A case in point, our Type 1 L6X® and L7X® alloy cylinders are 100% recyclable.

Embedding a lean culture, supporting sustainability, is part of our global initiatives. Five ‘zero’ goals have been established, which target zero accidents (safety), zero defects (quality), zero late deliveries (delivery), zero waste (cost) and zero excess inventory (cash).

This approach has generated great engagement across the organisation. This was demonstrated by a feedback exercise to encourage staff to contribute and share ideas. It attracted an impressive 150 suggestions from the manufacturing ‘shop floor’ team alone.

A lean and green business for the future

At Luxfer we consistently track customer feedback to identify how we can improve experiences. Recently, we were congratulated by a customer on the steps we’ve taken to minimise our Co2 footprint. Another global medical customer paid tribute to our communication, transparency, and trustworthiness. With customer-first a core part of our values, this kind of praise reinforces that we’re on the right track.

Thanks to Luxfer’s core markets of medical – and industrial – cylinders delivering growth, they help to support new revenue streams. These streams also align with our corporate mission around creating a cleaner, greener world and making a positive difference that will impact generations to come. 

A good example of this is our work to explore the potential for hydrogen as a fuel to decarbonise transport. We are building hydrogen systems to power transport solutions via road, rail and river, as well as virtual gas pipeline solutions, which are significant areas of innovation. Key investments are being made based on forecasted growth in this market from 2025 and beyond.

When it comes to the medical market, and particularly to the 300-bar opportunity, we predict huge shifts in demand over the next 10 years. Our focus will be upon applying our trusted technologies, continuing to roll out our lean manufacturing process with sustainability front and centre, and maintain our robust and agile approach, so we’ll be ready to deliver what the market needs.