A new era of digital production

Can data improve the safety, product quality, and environmental footprint of production? The short answer is yes. Marcus Furuholmen, SVP Digital Core Solutions, explains how.

In 2021, Yara launched its biggest digital production initiative to date. With the support of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Yara is building a new Digital Production Platform (DPP). The new DPP will be the key enabler to digitize Yara’s production system, covering 24 sites, 122 production units, and one mine.


Chasing the golden batch

The internet of things, machine learning, robotics, and cloud services are technologies powering the new Digital Production Platform. Although these concepts can seem hard to grasp, it is really all about gathering and utilizing various production data to improve processes and outcomes.

“Take the production process of NPK fertilizers, for example, which requires adjustments for each individual grade. It can be challenging for the production teams to keep track of the best set points for each grade to achieve optimum results. Golden Batch is a control room web application that monitors the process and assists operators in selecting ideal set points for critical parameters influencing throughput. The solution helps to reach higher stable production volumes, and we have already seen the first positive results,” says Marcus Furuholmen.

The vision is that the next generation DPP will be the digital core powering and collecting information from the Yara production landscape, making it available across Yara, and serving as a basis for innovation for future applications.

Production performance for People and Planet

The new DPP will not only help to improve production volumes and deliver on several other Prosperity KPIs, but it will also strengthen Yara’s People and Planet performance. For example, Ammonia Start-up Assistant is an application that focuses on optimizing ammonia plant start-ups, increasing energy efficiency, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Helping to keep employees safe is Smart Safety Sensors, a digital solution that leverages Internet of Things devices for personnel and vehicles to avoid collisions, helping Yara reach its goal of zero accidents.

Production workers using new solutions

“Yara will use the new DPP as the platform to build and scale digital solutions, which will help us further improve safety, reliability, product quality, plant efficiency, and environmental footprint. With new technologies and constant innovation, more solutions will come,” Furuholmen says.

What’s next?

The DPP program faced some challenges in 2021 relating mainly to supply chain delays. Three workstreams are racing to build the new platform, connect it to local site data sources, and migrate existing applications. The aim is to have Yara’s next generation Digital Production Platform fully operational by mid-2022. Having the new DPP as a platform for digital solutions is only the first step. With the platform, Yara personnel both on- and off-site will be given access to data and a new generation of tools - allowing them to build dashboards, explore data, and uncover new insights in a way that has not been possible until today.

In addition, Yara is also looking into the possibility of a Digital Production Innovation Center where Yara can collaborate with suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, and other partners to unlock innovation on top of millions of new, well-structured data points. “Yara’s mission is to responsibly feed the world and protect the planet. The digitalization of our production system will help us achieve it. The new DPP will help Yara to improve efficiency, foster collaboration, increase the quality and quantity of our fertilizer products, and most importantly, to support Yara’s ambition of Growing a Nature-Positive Food Future,” concludes Furuholmen.