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DIGINNO network is sharing best practice examples from around BSR  in order to demonstrate how sharing knowledge and benefits between IT and industry sector will lead to innovation. 

Yara International ASA, the leading fertilizer producer in the world, has consistently invested into IT solutions for facilitating operation: this is a facet of the success story of the company. A major recent change concerns packaging lines – the solution of Evocon now helps to supervise lines in real time, ensuring clear view of even small breaks and their causes, as well as smoother information exchange between different departments.

„We started testing the pilot version of the software in two fertilizer terminals in Brazil and in a microfertilizer factory in England. In a couple of years we added new production units and improved the solution. Today we use Evocon in all our fertilizer terminals, on 135 packaging lines in 21 countries worldwide,“ describes Aivar Künnapuu, vice president of Yara International. „The primary effect of Evocon is faster response to problems. When a production line stops, relevant information is immediately available to the maintenance department, production planning and shift manager. Causes of breaks are standardised, line operator makes the choice on touch panel and adds their explanation, if necessary.“

Challenges
Several challenges were faced during implementation of Evocon system, such as the fact that internal IT protocols are constantly more demanding. „Internal network of Yara and the issues related to its use, connection and security,“ Künnapuu lists the aspects that required consideration. „The programme itself is user-friendly and logical, but the most complicated task was bringing all parties around the same table – different countries and different people.“

Another major topic was network connections: fertilizer terminals of the company are often located in the regions with unstable internet connection.

Solutions
Each challenge was handled separately and solutions were found: in some cases, changes in IT infrastructure had to be made in IT communication of Yara service provider, in order to enable the Evocon hardware to transmit data smoothly from the production lines.

At the same time, communication took place with the central customer as well as their local subunits and in turn with their partners. „We had to discuss thoroughly all details, so finally we reached the solution and understood things in similar way,“ says Aigar Koov, executive manager of Evocon OÜ.

Implementation process
Installation and standardisation of the system was performed 75% in parallel, and has been completed by now. „In case of such a large group, all doubts should be discussed on all levels,“ says Koov. „It is also important to explain to the production operators that objective of the innovation is not to supervise their work, but to assess the entire system in order to improve it.“

Also Aivar Künnapuu admits that positive attitude of employees towards the new solution is important: „We succeeded well. We did not force the factories to adopt the solution. Successful implementation in the first terminals aroused interest also in others, so we rather restrained the speed ourselves.“

Results and benefit
„Evocon has major role in our programme for improving productivity,“ told Künnapuu. „Adoption of the system has especially helped to decrease delays caused by planning and logistics. In a year, OEE has improved approximately 5%, while also customer satisfaction and productivity of employees has increased. Everyone is more interested in their work, if they get immediate feedback.

When looking into the future, next year it is planned to add new features to the programme, and the solution is under constant development.

  • Higher OEE helps to improve supply security and decrease production delays, energy and material costs.
  • Higher motivation: all employees – and especially line operators – are more interested in their work, when they see and show their work results.
  • Saving time: information in real time helps to decide faster, while another bonus is faster feedback of the efficiency of decisions/solutions.
  • Evocon also provides support for setting challenges to the employees, but especially for stimulating them and highlighting positive results.

Text: Liivi Tamm