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Created new tools to improve fertiliser quality forever

Yara's fertiliser plants around the world have opened their eyes to a completely new and simpler way of presenting production figures, the tool is created by Yara's process engineering team at Herøya.
four people, work clothes, industry, outdoors, winter, posing. Game changers in fertiliser production: Yara's process engineering team at Herøya, from left Ingvar Westengen, technical section, Marion Smemo and Klaus Aaby, process data, and Kim Erland Lie, process operator, are changing fertiliser production forever.

Yara's interdisciplinary team from technical, process data and operations at Herøya has created a single image that shows the operating status in the production plant and a calculation tool that makes it easier to manage the fertiliser quality from Porsgrunn more precisely. The tools improve fertiliser quality, make better use of raw materials and reduce emissions.

Thousands of data boiled down into one image

Thousands of process data tags from fertiliser production have been boiled down to nine simple columns presented in one image.

four people standing in front of monitor, process data
Quick overview: "At a glance, the image gives a quick overview of production status and emissions," the proud process colleagues at Yara promise.

"You don't need any knowledge of the process to read and understand this," say Kim Erland Lie and Marion Smemo, on the right in the photo above. Together with colleagues, they have been at the forefront of developing columns and color codes, all presented on one page.

"Putting it simply, the image shows how the production units are run. The image is divided into 9 plant parts with columns indicating the average degree of utilisation over the last 8 hours and instantaneous values. These columns represent facilities with a great number of tags, about 4,000," the process team says.

Help to manage production

The image will help operators plan and make decisions in fertiliser production.

portrait of man in front of monitor

"Operators can operate according to this picture," says Kim Erland, process operator who now works full-time with process improvements.

"Here we see where the shoe is pressing and can identify bottlenecks in terms of quality. If you click on one of the blocks, red or green, you will see actual data and values. There is no judgment involved here," he points out.

Effective presentation of status

"How is this new presenting tool compared to previous process overviews?"

"This is a completely new way of presenting status," says Kim Erland. "Operators may be a little skeptical at first, but over time I think we will see the benefit of getting an instant picture of the process, without having to dive into all the data. Here we get the status of quality, raw material mix, emissions and more. In principle, a person can sit at home, see the status and follow the process," he says.

"A flow chart is the classic way of showing an overview of the process where all information is entered, perhaps 200 data. With this new system you don't have to browse and search."

four people standing in front of monitors, posing
Great interest: The team reports great interest from other fertiliser plants in Yara. "We presented this to the digitisation group at Yara and visitors from different places in the world. They became very interested in our solution."

Modules easy to implement

"The modules are laid out for each plant part, and can be realized in any control system," says Marion Smemo.

"Now we have the basis and can realize the equivalent for fertiliser plant 3. In fertiliser plant 4, this tool was put into operation before the summer of 2022."

young woman in corridor
Easy to copy: "It is very easy to copy the tool to Fertiliser plant 3  because it is the same set-up," says Marion Smemo. "We have made the foundation so simple that we can take it anywhere, as long as the process input is specified carefully. The purpose of the reporting image is to be able to push the plant parts to optimal operation, as it varies where the bottleneck in the production unit is."

Control of quality and production

Ingvar Westengen, from the technical section, says they are beginning to recognise contours from production in the new overview image.

portrait of man, working clothes, helmet, industry

"We are starting to get a profile through the plant parts for the different product types, which helps the operators to adjust production to avoid variations in the final product," says Westengen.

"We produce 2.3 million tonnes of NPK fertiliser a year. We have around 50 different fertiliser qualities, specific recipes and short intervals in the production of different qualities, so there is a lot to take into account."

Remove manually submitted information

"It became clear early on, we had to remove manual transmissions of information to operators, because they are the ones who can influence production," Westengen continues.

"Finding out how operators should make use of information from the lab analyses, which reduces variations in the final product, has been essential. Now they can make smart adjustments using the new quality tool."

Fully integrated control system

Yara Porsgrunn now manages fertiliser production in a fully integrated management system.

Klaus Aaby, from Process Data, talks about an extensive job done together with Bazefield and Tietoevry, compiling data from different systems.

portrait of man, outdoors, industry

"Each shift in the production gets an overview from the control system of analysis data from the lab, product specifications and dosage tables from the Production Control System," Klaus explains.

"This relevant because recipes change. We now have a system that lives with changes, both in recipes, a living product range and a quality assurance system.

A number of upgrades are planned in the future.

"I believe we will simplify and improve the overview images further," says Klaus Aaby.

Interdisciplinary teamwork gives better solutions

Yara's happy process team believes it is the interdisciplinary nature that makes the group strong.

"We have experienced over many years, that the good solutions are found in the borderland between Process operations, chemical and Process Data.

four people outdoors, industry, production site
Opens up new opportunities: "When we know each other and understand what we are doing in the computer world and in operations, opportunities suddenly open up," say happy colleagues over several years.

"We have managed to turn a few thousand data from the process into useful information in an optimal way. It does not necessarily mean that we have to buy new equipment. Rather, we have reshuffled the way of thinking on how we can present and utilize information, resulting in more fertiliser and better quality."


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