Digitalization of the process industry through NAPCON
Jarmo Suominen / 19 Dec 2017
I joined Neste Jacobs as CEO in early 2010. After two weeks at the office, I met with Dr. Hans Aalto, who explained what the company has done on Advanced Process Control during the few decades of its existence.
At first, I was completely astounded. I felt, as one feels in his gut, that I was being told about something truly revolutionary, and immediately knew, that this technology had all the potential to change the industry. Then I understood, that whilst the technology and talent was all there, we were commercially deficient.
Seven years have passed since that first encounter with the NAPCON, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. During these seven years, the process industry has shifted towards digitalization, and a paradigm shift in conceptions of production capacity supports the role of digitalization. Yet, whilst there is much hype around the IoT, it seems that solutions based on it are generating scant results.
NAPCON, we knew, would have several advantages over the IoT hype. Thus, we began to develop NAPCON systematically, making it more focused and bringing it more to the open. You might wonder what took us so long, why didn’t we pronounce our innovation to the world right from the start – and you’re certainly right, there are many things we should have done right from the beginning.
However, it wasn’t quite that simple. We had to observe the market and above all, our own abilities, first. At last, in late 2016, we built a clear strategy for NAPCON, and decided to focus on two main product lines.
Namely – DRTO (Dynamic Real Time Optimization) and OT (Operator Training). These two combine state-of-the-art digitalization means, and consider how human capability affects our operations.
DRTO utilizes the highest digital means possible to combine commercial and process information, in order to optimize our customer’s bottom line. Our NAPCON DRTO solutions are able to generate profit in two-digit margin improvements, not to mention improved energy efficiency, and a decreased waste of valuable resources.
However, it should not be forgotten, that even the most optimized production line is operated by people, whose training should not be disregarded. To improve in this respect, we introduced a new product category, NAPCON Games, which allows our customers’ operators to enhance their skills in operating plants and production units. It is of paramount importance that people behind the panels are also on top of their task.
NAPCON Games allows process operators to learn in a fun and interactive way, without time or space restraints. It enables a continued improvement, as it is suitable for both teaching novel skills to newcomers, and enhancing the existing skills of seasoned specialists. Furthermore, a gamified training solution is attractive to the next generation of potential process industry operators.
For all these reasons, I am extremely proud of NAPCON. NAPCON is genuinely capable of generating true value to our customers worldwide, and I believe it will revolutionize the digitalization of the process industry. At the same time, I am feeling both humble and grateful to those, who make it all happen, who are making a remarkable vision come true.
CEO, Neste Jacobs Oy
Chairman of NAPCON Steering Board