It was in 1994 that the first business with Ni-Lay Naing Co Ltd. in Myanmar took place. Back then, a large deal of 4 million USD was paid for with 20.000 tons of rice to upgrade three hospitals. It remains one of the largest medical deals ever completed. Today, the equipment is still in use and has stood the test of time with regard to design, quality and installation.
In the years to follow, the country went through various political changes, bringing trade to a hold. But after the international sanctions began to be lifted in recent years, we saw the opportunity to reconnect and rekindle the relationship with our original partner Ni-Lay Naing Co Ltd. And so we began rebuilding the network and the ambition to grow the business from scratch.
As the country started opening its doors again for business, one of the key objectives was to improve the healthcare sector, which until this time significantly lacked investment, development, equipment and people. Healthcare was in big need and the government quickly realized that in order to improve healthcare and treatment, it was essential to foresee oxygen in all hospitals. The local high pressure cylinders were old, poorly maintained, leaking and on top of that very expensive. The alternative was onsite oxygen generation.
With a lack of knowledge, it was a steep learning curve for the government and healthcare sector. In the first tenders that came out, the specifications for oxygen systems were described in a document of merely one paragraph. All tendered as part of a strategic purchasing for healthcare including ambulances, furniture, anaesthesia machines, portable vacuum etc. The hospital locations were unknown, such as the principle of central control and ordering to central stock without the knowledge of capacity, delivery pressure and flow rate.
The first order was placed with a trading company, sourced from China, Taiwan and a variety of other locations to strip down the price. To this day, these systems are still not working. This was surely a nice opportunity for us to lobby and work with the government’s procurement team on a more detailed and professional approach.
In late 2014, this resulted in the first big success: an order of 400.000 USD for two containerized Oxyplants. The containers were fully equipped with
An air conditioning system was installed inside the containers to keep the temperature within operating limits.
Next to the oxygen containers, also manifolds were put in place as emergency back-up, fully installed with pipelines, valves and alarms. This was done to ensure the continuity of oxygen supply to the most critical areas of the hospital. With the installation support from our technicians, the equipment was finally handed over and successfully accepted by the Ministry of Health.
This professional approach was rewarded by two more orders in 2015. The first order was for two large Oxyplants with a capacity of 80m³/h each. The installation was equipped with a booster for local cylinder filing. The second order, valued at 1 million USD in total, consisted of five containerized Oxyplants 29. All equipment was shipped in December 2015.
A few weeks later in January 2016, we got an urgent request from Myanmar. A competing supplier of oxygen equipment was failing to deliver his equipment on time. So Atlas Copco was called to help out, this time with a very strict deadline. The absolute cut-off date for delivery was March 21st, as the new government was due to be sworn in and all previous contracts would have been null and void. This meant 8 weeks to process the order and to manufacture ad deliver three Oxyplants 29.
The challenge became even bigger, when the installation required three booster compressors that would be the first Oxicomp boosters ever to be sourced from Ceimsa, Spain, a recent acquisition of the Atlas Copco group. Furthermore, it was the first time that the oxygen generators were built at the new production line in Oosterhout, The Netherlands. Our medical facilities in Abingdon and Staveley, United Kingdom, helped out with the emergency manifolds, order processing and logistics. Finally, the goal was achieved: all equipment arrived at Yangon port 48 hours before the deadline. It was a challenging experience but one which has elevated our brand and people in the eyes of the Myanmar government departments, especially its Purchasing & Contracts team.
The value of this urgent order was an additional 480.000 USD and brought the total for the Myanmar phenomenon in excess of 2 million USD in 24 months. With even more oxygen containers in the pipeline, the success story in the land of pagodas continues, as the marks for a sustainable business have been set.