Luxfer keeps cylinders from tanking

Thursday, November 30, 2006

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - When it comes to oxygen cylinders, Luxfer Medical aims to prove wrong the industry's perception that a tank is a tank is a tank.
In September, the company stepped up marketing for a line of lightweight cylinders, including the Voyage for Homecare, that can handle up to 3,000 psi, about 50% more than most tanks now on the market. Luxfer bills the Voyage as a "viable alternative to liquid oxygen systems and a cost-effective route for the homecare dealer to provide oxygen therapy to their patients," said Vicky Butler, international marketing manager, medical.
With all the innovation now taking place in the respiratory marketplace--from portable oxygen concentrators to transfilling devices--some may see cylinders as being lost in the evolutionary dust. Luxfer wants to avoid that and alleviate some of the downward pricing pressures that have hammered the highly competitive cylinder market.
"We don't want cylinders to be perceived as yesterday's technology," Butler said.
Luxfer officials don't expect the market for cylinders to change overnight. Like manufacturers of portable concentrators and other innovative respiratory technologies, Luxfer must convince providers to pay more for a product that's intended to increase patient ambulation and decrease provider delivery costs.
"It really does become a more viable and less expensive alternative for the homecare provider to invest in," Butler said.
"It's an interesting idea," acknowledged Gary Sheehan, general manager for Cape Medical Supply in Sandwich, Mass. "I've never even had a sales rep claim to have a superior (cylinder). They are all 2,000 psi, and it all comes down to price."
In order to brand its new line and generate interest, Luxfer, rather than label the new tanks with bland industrial product numbers, has given them consumer-friendly names like Voyage, Journey and Odyssey.
"We're trying to give the impression of mobility and freedom of life," Butler said. "Our idea is to start to get some marketing down to professionals and patient groups and to get them to start referring to our products. But as soon as you start talking industrial language, a polite glaze comes over their faces."