Key Accounts Director, Informa

Author Bio ▼

Angela Coffill has been working within our health and safety portfolio for several years and has developed a passion for the sector. She has extensive exhibition and digital advertising knowledge with more than a decade’s experience in the media industries.
May 8, 2023

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Angela Asks: John Balagué from GfG Gas Detection

The return of an old interview series, in which I catch up with key exhibitors of the upcoming Safety & Health Expo in London.

In this article, I reflect on a conversation with John Balagué, director from GfG Gas Detection to discuss trends he’s seeing is the gas safety sector, including ongoing challenges with a chip shortage, and the reasons he’s exhibiting at our London exhibition next week.

John has been in the Gas Detection industry for over 30 years, with experience of both fixed and portable markets. Having started “on the tools”, building and commissioning fixed systems, he progressed to service management and is currently, UK Director of GfG Gas Detection UK Ltd. The organisation supply and support a range of personal and fixed-point gas detection equipment to the UK and Ireland and offer a broad range of sensors for many applications.


Challenges with semiconductors

Over the past 12 months one of John’s main challenges has been the worldwide semiconductor (microprocessor components) shortage and price increases.  For those of you who, like me, aren’t familiar with what a semiconductor (microprocessor component) is, I asked John to tell me more about this to help us understand what this means and how semiconductors are used within certain industries.

In John’s words:While the COVID-19 pandemic was the initial catalyst for the chip shortage, structural factors were also part of the picture. Fundamentally, the auto industry is changing, with a major shift toward automation and electric vehicles. These require yet more chips, causing further strain on an already stretched industry.

Some chip shortages could remain through 2023 and into 2024.

They are purchased from distributors in countries such as Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, USA, China

But due to lack of stock, new suppliers had to be sourced and due to demand, pricing was significantly increased along with estimated delivery times of 6-months +, hence GfG product delivery times were increased.  This would have impacted the industry as essentially caused a delay in potentially lifesaving equipment being installed.

It’s estimated the worst is over and during 2023 more chips will become available as many semiconductor manufacturing plants have now been expanded – which thankfully should also prevent this from happening again.

Predictions for gas safety

Over the next five years, John predicts equipment cost of ownership will come under increasing focus, against the backdrop of soaring inflation. All gas detection equipment must be serviced/calibrated at least bi-annually and John tells me that health & safety professionals’ budgets often neglect to include these costs, which can obviously be problematic.

Not everything costs money though – GfG offer a free of charge Gap Analysis for anyone who needs to understand what gas detection equipment is required and to ensure that the correct gas detection equipment is being used (for both plants and personnel) – useful for compliance and insurance purposes.

John explains to me that if you don’t have the correct equipment in place and haven’t adhered to necessary compliance, as well as potentially causing unnecessary and distressing incidents, this will invalidate the insurance and could lead to lawsuits.

Currently however, there is no UK law or BS standard regarding the requirement or use of gas detection equipment. It is purely driven by companies safe working practices. It would be beneficial to have legislation for the industry.

Who GfG like to meet at Safety & Health Expo

As a regular exhibitor at Safety & Health Expo for many years now John tells me he enjoys meeting decision makers from companies across all market sectors – including food, drink, government, and utilities (to name a few!)

Most memorable meet-up at the event

John’s had the pleasure of meeting many interesting people at Safety & Health Expo over the years, so I wanted to find out who’s the most memorable person he’s met. His answer…inspirational keynote speaker and military veteran Simon Weston. John said: ‘having been through such tough times, Simon Weston’s story of drive and determination was a pleasure to be there for’.

Meet GfG this May in London

To understand more about GfG’s free Gap Analysis service or find out about their products, including The G222 (102 gas personal gas monitor) and the D-Rex (specifically for the semiconductor manufacturing process) speak to find John and his team on stand SH1844 at Safety & Health Expo at Excel, London, from 16– 18 May. Simply register to attend here.


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