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Digital pioneers, app changing the logistics of fertiliser for future food production

three people standing in front of products ready to ship

Realises digital switching: From left Merete Østby, Digital and Continuous Improvement Manager Production, North Europe & Canada, Linda Thors, planner shipping/Container, Tobias Thorsen, Packaging/container operator, in front of fertiliser bags packed and prepared with the help of Yara Porsgrunn's new DLC app, Digital Lean Container.

Never before have so many in Yara Porsgrunn's logistics chain worked in the same digital solution. Logistics planners and operators in Yara, Bilfinger and Brevik Port Terminal have been using Yara's new logistics app DLC, Digital Lean Container, since February. They are overjoyed.

Logistics planners and operators in Yara Porsgrunn, Bilfinger and the Port of Brevik were the first in the Yara group to use the company's new logistics app, Digital Lean Container, DLC. Now they are working on the same app and digital platform to improve the logistics flow of 20,000 fertiliser containers annually, to 90 markets worldwide from Herøya.

Got the app we want and a new workday

"We have got the app we want. They have listened to our input," say satisfied logistics employees. Every day, they work together to pack about 55 containers, filled with around 25 tonnes of fertiliser in sacks and bulk, from Herøya.

Terminal operators in Brevik Port also benefit from the DLC app. By following continuous updates on load lists, and trucks on their way to the port, terminal operators in Brevik can plan to avoid queuing and waiting at the terminal.

Collaboration across

New DLC app is part of a major digital shift in the Yara Group.

"It is important that we get the collaboration across, so that the value chain as a whole benefits from it," says Merete Østby. She is leading the effort to digitise Yara's value chains associated with production at Herøya.

two women looking at tablet in storage hall

Merete Østby, two from the right, is leading the effort to digitise Yara's value chains associated with production at Herøya. Here she is with Benedikte Gundersen, Bilfinger.

First fully integrated digital solution

"It is the first time, and completely new here in Porsgrunn, that we have such a fully integrated digital solution that is used by both operators and planners in Yara, Bilfinger and those in Brevik Harbor. We have started here in Porsgrunn, but are also looking at whether we can use this application at other sites in the Yara group," says Østby.

DLC is an additional application that has its own database, but is fully integrated with the production system.

The goal is improvement

Merete Østby believes it is important that the digital solutions meet a need.

"It is not a goal to digitise in itself," Østby points out. "The goal is for something to get better, quality, efficiency and an improved system for the employees. In the DLC project, many operators were involved to check that the system was suitable for the work operation. That's important. We create a system that supports the process, and not the other way around. That is the greatest chance of achieving something that works well."

…know best where the shoe hits

"The very best thing is to bring in needs from those who have a challenge or see an opportunity. They who know the work process and know where the shoe hits and who have good ideas on how work processes can be simplified and improved".

"That's why it's very motivating to hear so many satisfied users of the DLC app."

Improved flow on containers and everyday work

Satisfied DLC app users experience better flow on fertiliser containers and everyday work.

Linda Thors is the planner. Her job is to get containers of fertiliser out and empty containers in at the right time. She plans the container flow, and communicates with Bilfinger who performs the job.

woman by her desk in front of computer

"What is the best thing that has happened in your job since you started using the app?"

"The best thing is that I do not need to check myself multiple times so as not to make mistakes. Previously, there was a lot to keep in mind, with all the sheets I received by fax, lists that were noted on, and then entered into another excel sheet and sent to the logistics department. Potentially it could be a lot of mistakes, because it was difficult to decipher handwriting. Those obstacles are completely gone now."

A completely different job

"Now all orders are in the system, and it enables me to plan ahead in time. Everything is very clear, and has become much easier. In fact, it has become a completely different job."

Linda thinks they have a better flow. "Now we load more containers per shift than we did a year ago. We can start loading immediately in the morning, because I've already prepared the list. And cargo operators can also plan for how they will solve it out there."

"How was the start of this new system?"

"Will we manage this?, I thought. But we had decided on a transition date. We started on Monday and when we got to Wednesday, I really think everything was in place. After two days, I had forgotten how we used to do these routines earlier."

Container loading

Tobias Thorsen, operator, loads fertiliser into a big sack and pallet into a container.

Man operating av truck loading containers

"The DLC app has given me a better overview of what to load and what to do. It is so much easier to correct if we have typed wrong numbers, as previous we had to start all over. Now we write the container and seal number and date, and then we take pictures with the tablet. When I press «complete», information goes to Brevik Harbor. It's okay that we're done with paper. It was probably worse for Linda than for me, I think, because she had to interpret my handwriting," he chuckles.

truck loading container on to vehicle.

Tobias Thorsen and colleagues were given information in the tablet about which countries the containers were going to. This made it easier to agree on the location of containers. Here, Tobias Thorsen is in front of his own truck and the large truck that places containers on vehicles.

Warehouse for bulk

Benedikte Gundersen at Bilfinger is responsible for ensuring that bulk fertiliser is loaded into the container at the right time. Here she is in Yara's warehouse.

woman in warehouse for loading fertilizer product

 Loading orders in the DLC app has notification of which field in the warehouse the wheel loader should pick up fertiliser from. With five buckets, the container is full.

What are the best improvements in your job?

"Taking pictures has become much easier. It was a job we spent a lot of time on earlier," says Benedikte. "A lot of time is saved now when we can file the photos simultaneously as loading the container. We have shortened the waiting time a bit here and there. This means many more shipped tonnes in a year."

Benedikte says it has become easier to answer questions from the Marked department about a container. "Now Yara can just search up and find the pictures available instead of calling Bilfinger. It's very smart. And if we make mistakes, we can simply correct ourselves. DLC is very user-friendly, and has helped us a lot. You do not have to take a three-day course to be allowed to sign up to make a small registration. It is a simple application, easy to use, and that is great."

Smarter collaboration with Yara

Is it a quantum leap, or more improvements to be made?

"There is always more to adjust. But DLC has helped us a long way. We do the same job, but we do it a little smarter in collaboration with Yara. And the result is more loaded tonnes."

Logistic planners

Automatic load list. "The loading list is generated automatically when we enter an SAP delivery number and link it to a call," the planners explain.

"The Production Support System, PSS, retrieves information from SAP, and everything comes out completed. The system divides how many containers this will add up to, related to the number of tonnes, and we set a shipping date for the container. The information automatically goes to the DLC. Those who carry out the work in the packing plant receive the loading list on the tablet and can enter the container number as they load. Finally, a completed list with the correct container number is returned to us by e-mail, and job done."

two women in an office

Logistics planners Ingjerd Strand and Ingvild Næss receive fertiliser orders directly in the SAP system from the marketing department. The production department reports when a volume of fertiliser can be shipped, for example week 50. Shipping options are planned on a date, and the planners enter a load list in the DLC system.

Has the system turned out the way you wanted it to?

"There are always some details to improve. For example, all containers must be cleared through customs. We are now working to get the container number back to SAP from DLC/PSS and directly into the customs system. This is the next step, and we're almost there," say two satisfied logistics planners.

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