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Yara's digital crane operators round milestones, 1,000 containers loaded

This week they rounded up 1,000 fertiliser containers loaded with Kalmar's self-operated gantry crane. And Yara Birkeland sails fully loaded for the first time.
Rounding milestones: Yara's digital crane operators round milestones for autonomous logistics flow in Yara Porsgrunn, Kristoffer B. Ellefsen, crane operator, Brigitte Brueland, Operation/Project Coordinator and Tommy Andersen, crane operator.

Yara's digital crane operators complete a milestone in operating Kalmar's gantry crane. The loading operations are now monitored and controlled by crane operators from a control room on the Birkeland quay, but will eventually become fully automated.

"This week we loaded a full vessel, 104 containers, and at the same time we reached 1,000 containers loaded on board since the end of April," says the crane team proudly.

They claim it has contributed to 1,000 fewer trucks on the local roads since April.

We can do this!

The enthusiasm is great. 

three people in an office eganged around monitors
Tommy Andersen controls the levers, and receives useful input from Kristoffer Ellefsen and Brigitte Brueland.

Yara's digital crane operators manage crane and loading operations from a control room packed with screens and digital equipment.

"Everything can be run from here," says Tommy Andersen. "It is unique that you can sit anywhere and drive via a screen."

"What makes the Kalmar system fantastic is that we can trust the system, trust the coordinates and data entered, and that it works autonomously," comments colleague Kristoffer.

Make the crane run smoothly

Yara Birkeland now runs once a week between Herøya and the North Sea Terminal in Brevik, and Kalmar's gantry crane is driven semi-autonomously, but has been specially developed to become fully autonomous.

"Getting the boat up and running and getting the crane to run smoothly is what we are working on for the next couple of years," says Brigitte Brueland, Operation/Project Coordinator. She is very happy with the milestone.

Increase cargo and sailings

The first interim target is 104 containers and two sailings a week with Yara Birkeland. The big goal is 5 sailings a week. 

woman with dark glasses and white helmet outside in the industrial park
Birgitte Brueland, Coordinator Operations/Projects at Yara.

"Getting two sailings started is the first goal. We have to solve some challenges that we see now, but yes, we can do it," says Brueland.

The team works continuously to get more containers out and looks at opportunities to integrate systems that will make the working day more automated.

"It's not that there is no need for people, someone has to monitor. We are now installing bollards to automate moorings (auto mooring). We are peeling off work operations and will concentrate on automating loading operations for two years. The aim is to put in place the digital solutions needed to automate operations," they say.

Digital crane operators

Kristoffer Ellefsen, logistics graduate from USN, and Tommy Andersen, former mechanic, both with broad industrial experience, are two key people who have been involved since the start in November last year.

"Was the job as expected?"

"We worked a lot with Birkeland when I studied logistics at USN. The project itself is insanely exciting for the local environment. And it has also inspired the companies Asko in Vestfold and Ekornes in Western Norway," says crane operator/logistics operator Kristoffer Ellefsen. 

man with beard and white helmet at the quay
Kristoffer Ellefsen, Crane operator/Logistics operator.

Participates in ground-breaking projects

"Just being part of a project that is a first and able to save the environment, not least the local environment, from noise and dangerous situations in traffic, is rewarding in itself."

"We learn something new every day. This is the first crane Kalmar delivers with remote control specially designed for this project. To be part of a ground-breaking project that is driving technological quantum leaps, it's fantastic." 

man with dark glasses and white helmet standing in logistic area
Tommy Andersen, Cran operator/Logistics operator.

"Everything is new. It will be learning by doing. It's great to work interdisciplinary, with administration and those who operate the Container Management system (DLC), the IT people in Tietoevry and others," says Andersen.

"We are essentially a large interdisciplinary team that create a fluid process. Everyone works for the product and the end result to be good. Together we find out if what we do is good enough, or if we should alter something. There is development all the way, we are not at the finish line yet. But when the systems work, things work very well."


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