Following the completion of a Lm3 million investment the Manufacturing Unit of Multigas Limited in Kirkop was officially opened this weekend by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi. The event also marked the successful relocation of Multigas from Hamrun to Kirkop.
The move sees the new plant standing next to its major client STMicroelectronics. The project was conceived with the total co-operation of Multigas trading partner Air Liquide, a French multinational producer of industrial gases who has supplied Multigas with industrial gases for the last 25 years.
Speaking at the opening, Multigas Managing Director Michael Mallia explained how the company evolved in line with events happening in Europe together with Malta’s eventual membership of the EU.
Multigas Chairman Louis A. Farrugia noted that L. Farrugia & Sons, which later became Multigas, was started by his grandfather Luigi Farrugia in 1892, and was re-established by Luigi’s sons, foremost amongst them being Lewis Victor Farrugia.
“The new Manufacturing Unit at Kirkop is a new milestone that we have reached in the development of this industrial concern. The requirement for this project originated from the need to supply our major exporting multinationals such as ST and Dowty Trelleborg with liquid nitrogen at competitive prices whilst assuring them of security of supply,” he explains, adding “Multigas’ new investment is happening at a time when industry in Malta is facing its real test with the advent of free competition following Malta’s entry into the EU. This new production facility is not only replacing product that used to be imported from Sicily and Italy, but it is also guaranteeing companies and hospitals in Malta with constant supplies of industrial and medical gases,” he said.
Mr Farrugia thanked Air Liquide and in particular Mr Olivier Imbault, Managing Director of Air Liquide Italia for his co-operation in conceiving the project. Discussions with the Malta Development Corporation, now Malta Enterprise, started in 1996. Mr Farrugia thanked the Corporation for what he termed as “their fullest understanding and support for this project”.
During all aspects of the design, construction and equipping of the Unit at Kirkop, painstaking efforts were made to adhere to the highest international standards related to health, safety and the environment. This was done under the supervision of an international consultancy expert in this field. Multigas successfully qualified for “ISO 9001:2000” certification in 1994 – an award only achieved by companies meeting exacting levels of quality in product and service delivery. Recently, in relation to its medical gases, particularly oxygen, Multigas has acquired GMP (good manufacturing practice) certification.
Multigas has also long been an active member of leading international associations including the International Oxygen Manufacturers Association (IOMA) and the European Industrial Gas Association (EIGA).
This has permitted Multigas to be at the forefront of the latest best practices relating to the production and handling of gasses. It also enables the company to provide a service according to international standards. This has led the company to achieve very high quality standards, achieving levels well in excess of international requirements.
While paying tribute to the late Mr Anthony Miceli-Farrugia who served as Managing Director between 1955 and 1980 and to Mr Luke L Miceli who was Chairman from 1970 until 2001, Mr Farrugia said that in these decades, Multigas attained such high standards by investing in human resources that in turn it can ensure the required skills, specialisation and high levels of performance.
At present, Multigas employs a team of 55 people including personnel qualified in cryogenics, the science of liquid gases at very cold temperatures, a pharmacist, and engineers.
The team is responsible for the production and supply a range of industrial and medical gasses that cater for diverse requirements. Among these one finds oxygen, carbon dioxide, CO 2, hydrogen, acetylene and nitrogen. These gases are used in hospitals, engineering facilities; soft drinks and beer production, fire-extinguishing, and in the growth of greenhouse produce. Multigas’ client range from ST Microelectronics – Malta’s largest exporter - and Trelleborg Dowty Malta, which supplies engineered ‘O rings’ world-wide, to Enemalta, Malta Drydocks and many small businesses around Malta.
Farrugia thanked Multigas project team headed by Managing Director, Mr Michael Mallia. The team was made up of the Project Co-ordinator, Vince Bartolo; the Technical Manager, Paul Agius Delicata; the Commercial Manager, Bernard Ferrante; the Financial Controller, Henry Attard, and Architect Chris Falzon. The rest of the Technical Team included Charles Cassar, Gerald Mansueto and James Vella.
Mr Farrugia encouraged the management team “to set high standards and lead by example - in this way you will gain the respect of our workforce” and all employees to value this new plant which meets all the latest safety and technical specifications and to ensure that only quality products at the most competitive price possible are produced. This will not only ensure investment sustainability but also prosperity for their livelihoods.
Dr Gonzi, on his part, had words of praise for Multigas, “From relatively modest beginnings, Multigas has grown to become Malta’s principal manufacturer and supplier of medical and industrial gases. It is good to note the quality certification obtained by Multigas since this is the guarantor of high quality standards which are essential as part of a competitiveness drive for our enterprises.”
“Multigas is an example of a Maltese originating company which has striven hard to build capacity and competence to ensure that it becomes a local leader in the provision of its core services. EU membership has now given such firms the possibility to look outwardly and investigate the possibility of exporting their services in a larger market, that of the European Union. It is thanks to European Union membership that firms like Multigas have free and unrestricted access to a larger market.”