MAN Truck & Bus

Ein Mitarbeiter von Linde Gas Therapeutics bedient einen Sauerstoff-Behälter in einem MAN TGE

The oxygen transporter

15/10/2019

As one of the most versatile transport vehicles around, the MAN TGE van is very much valued by Linde Gas Therapeutics and even provides an actual lifeline for many Munich residents.

 Ein LOX-Behälter, in dem ein tiefgekühlte Sauerstoff transportiert wird

Heavy work Carrying the deep-frozen with or without a lift. oxygen, the LOX containers have a volume capacity of 45 litres and must be refilled on average after a week.

Simon M. disappears in a cloud of freezing mist on this sunny and warm June morning. He stands by the rear door of his MAN transport van in the Munich suburb Waldtrudering, while filling the oxygen container. There’s a hissing sound, followed by an expanding and dense cloud of gas. Once he’s done, he straps the full container onto an electrical stair climber and hauls it off in the direction of a single-family house – already eagerly anticipated. Simon M. is indeed a very welcome visitor. For the deliveries he makes daily, contain the world’s most precious commodity for his Munich-based customers: oxygen. The 38-year-old driver supplies patients suffering from respiratory and pulmonary conditions with liquid oxygenium, as it is known scientifically, stored in stainless steel containers weighing 80 kilos each. His customers have grown accustomed to his always arriving at a strictly defined time. “That’s why my daily routine means driving to the same people at the same time, so they know what to expect,” says M. “And by this point in time, they’re not just awaiting their oxygen delivery, but are also looking forward to a little chat with me.”

Simon M. works as a patient carer for Linde Gas Therapeutics GmbH, a subsidiary of the globally active technology group Linde AG. Specialising in gases and processing plants, the industry giant does not restrict its operations to industrial applications, but also serves the home and health care sector. Here it supplies hospitals and private households with the element indispensable to life – every day and throughout Germany. There is no question that reliability plays an absolutely crucial role in this kind of service. In addition, the safety of its shipments is another crucial factor from Linde’s point of view. While oxygen itself is not burnable, the gas is an extreme fire-promoter in any combustion.

Compact and reliable

Seeking to continuously meet its high safety standards, Linde Gas Therapeutics recently opted for both the MAN TGE 3.140 and 5.180. The panel van meets all of Linde’s requirements for a transporter. “In the past, we dealt with rather oversized vehicles that kept suffering the identical kind of minor damages time and again,” explains Sufian El Naib. The 39-year-old fleet manager is responsible for the delivery vehicles of Linde Gas Therapeutics all over Germany and also oversees compliance with safety standards. He therefore is fully aware of what the deployment of transport vehicles requires. “The MAN TGE is very compact, so we don’t get snagged by protruding drainpipes or bump into things. It is also very agile, which is particularly advantageous in the Munich city centre.” Yet he was impressed not just by the compact design of the MAN TGE 3.140: “We adhere to a zero-accident policy. Downtime vehicles requiring workshop attention result in significant additional costs for us,” explains El Naib. Thus, he says, Linde Gas Therapeutics is concerned about operating utterly reliable and therefore trustworthy transport vehicles.

Simon M. knows all about the significance of trust. Throughout his delivery rounds to hospitals and private households, he encounters many people with merely one wish: getting well. “While we can’t heal our customers, we still try to help them by conveying that they can count on our deliveries – no matter what the weather may bring.” To this end, he performs truly hard physical labour, for refilling the liquid oxygen (known as LOX) containers with gas chilled down to minus 183°C makes some challenging demands on the driver: Upon arriving at the customer, Simon M. first manoeuvres the LOX container out of the residence and to the transporter. Installed in its loading area is a built-in vessel, containing the liquid oxygen that Simon M. then fills into the LOX container. Upon completion, he carries the replenished container back into the patient’s home. Unfortunately, elevators or other lifting mechanisms are the exception rather than the rule on this job. “I do have an electrical stair climber to assist me in getting up several steps, but that gadget itself weighs another 25 kilos.”

Apart from the physical work, Simon M. must also observe high safety standards and take care to avoid any contact with the liquid oxygen. The effects would be devastating: “Direct contact causes burns and blisters on the skin and should the gas affect my eyes, I could actually go blind. So whenever I fill up the containers, I always wear thick gloves and special protective goggles.”

We adhere to a zero-accident policy. Downtime vehicles result in additional costs for us.

Sufian El Naib
Fleet manager at Linde Gas Therapeutics

Ein MAN TGE 3.140 fährt auf einer Straße

Clever and compact The agile MAN TGE 3.140 proves its operational value, be it during long distances or in narrow urban streets.

The wide array of driver assistance systems

The MAN TGE 3.140 can’t help Simon M. in terms of manual labour, yet makes up for it whilst on the road, as the generous range of driver assistance systems drastically reduces the risk of accidents. There’s the automatic Emergency Brake Assist, Active Lane Assist, a rear-view camera, parking sensors and Side Wall Protection Assist – all adding to the comfort and safety of M.’s work: “I’ve driven a lot of vehicles in my time, but the TGE is really something special. Especially because of the short wheelbase, nothing sways or teeters. Hats off!” Ensuring that the 140-hp panel van should not present any risk while on its extraordinary mission, is the work of a body builder specialist, who installed a ventilation system for air circulation in the loading area. As a result, combustion would be averted in case of any flying sparks. The MAN vehicle also includes a windowless, gas-sealed partition, to prevent any build-up of oxygen in the driver’s cabin. “We maintain a very high level of safety here,” says El Naib, “which also explains why all the technical equipment, as well as the 600-litre container, are bolted down so firmly that everything would remain securely in place even in case of a road traffic accident.”

In his position as fleet manager, El Naib is obviously happy about that, considering that smooth operations of oxygen transport is his top priority. For this reason, he would like to gradually replace the entire fleet of Linde Gas Therapeutics throughout Germany with MAN vehicles. “In 2018, we’ve ordered 16 of the 5-tonne and three of the 3.5-tonne vans and are planning for the same quantity in 2019 as well.” The motive is the same as the reasons so essential to the customers of Linde Gas Therapeutics: “In our eyes, MAN embodies reliability and safety. The crucial advantage is the offer of spare parts delivery around the clock, as well as repairs undertaken on Saturdays,” explains El Naib. “Not everyone offers that kind of service.”

Ein Mitarbeiter von Linde Gas Therapeutics bedient einen Sauerstoff-Behälter

Icy summer mist Oxygen transported by the specially converted MAN TGE is cooled to minus 183 degrees.

Photos Stefan Hobmaier

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