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Air Products provides customers with the world’s leading liquefied natural gas (LNG) technology and equipment from its 32-acre manufacturing location in Palmetto, Florida. And as the need for clean energy continues to grow, the importance of Air Products’ technological expertise, which is shipped to production locations around the globe, also increases.
Air Products opened its Port Manatee manufacturing facility in January 2014 and completed a 60 percent expansion in October 2019 to meet the needs of the ever-growing LNG industry. In October 2018, Air Products dedicated a new LNG equipment test facility on an adjacent six-acre site, enabling the company to improve the reliability and yield produced from its LNG heat exchangers and to design new equipment.
Air Products’ proprietary LNG technology cryogenically liquefies valuable natural gas for consumer and industrial use. For over 50 years Air Products has manufactured LNG heat exchangers, which currently operate in over 100 LNG trains in 20 countries around the world.
Typically, an LNG heat exchanger can take approximately two years to build and be as large as over 15 feet in diameter and 180 feet long. A finished unit can weigh as much as 500 tons. Shipping these very sizable units is no longer an issue since operations began at Port Manatee, with convenient access to a port berth just approximately one mile away.
“This location has exactly what we need to meet current and developing market needs. With the help of the Port of Manatee we have unrestricted shipping access for our large equipment from our gate to deep water and Roll-on-Roll-off (RoRo) shipping berths. And we have a quality and skilled workforce onboard at our manufacturing facility,” said Mark Evans, director, Manufacturing Americas for Air Products.
Evans said local assistance was key to Air Products’ initial real estate decision, expansions and workforce needs.
“The Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation was integral to our locating in Palmetto, in our ability to expand quickly to meet customer market needs, and in helping to acquire and increase the skilled workforce for our manufacturing operations,” he said, adding Manatee County also helped in expediting the facility permitting processes.
Air Products’ employee numbers at its production location have increased markedly. Evans said CareerSource Suncoast, Manatee Technical College and other technical colleges in the region all helped the company in locating and training the skilled workers needed, in concert with EDC’s social media campaign for the hiring.
In 2019, the location hired 60 employees to its previous base of 110, and in 2020 has added another 130 employees for its current 300-person workforce to meet customer orders and market demand. And in just the last two months, Air Products announced huge LNG equipment orders which combined include 12 heat exchangers for a massive expansion project in Qatar and a project in Algeria.
Air Products’ LNG process technology and equipment is the heart of an LNG production plant. The technology, in place at some of the most remote locations around the world, takes natural gas and unlocks its value by liquefying it and making it possible to economically ship it to all parts of the world. The LNG is eventually re-gasified for energy uses.
And regardless of where it operates around the world, it all starts in Manatee County on Florida’s West Coast.
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