Digital industry as driver of Nizhnekamsk petrochemisty

Artificial intelligence or when robots will replace people

Digital industry as driver of Nizhnekamsk petrochemisty
Photo: Maksim Platonov

The biggest petrochemical enterprise in Europe whose products are supplied to more than 50 countries of the world is introducing advanced information technologies to production. Robots and an artificial neural network are already doing a part of the job instead of Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s employees. They are processing bank statements, sorting and registering primary accounting documentation, draw up complex analytic reports. The petrochemists are mastering artificial intelligence, creating unique robots to help humans and developing a corporate mobile app. IT solutions already affect almost all spheres of human life. The benefit of digitalisation was also discussed in the Tatarstan Cabinet of Ministers last week during a briefing on the implementation of Digital Economy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Tatarstan national programme.

Technologies of the future at Nizhnekamskneftekhim

Late last year, the board of directors of Nizhnekamskneftekhim considered and adopted a strategy to develop IT systems through 2024, which includes over 30 projects. It is planned to invest 3 billion rubles in the strategy.

The projects include business process management, organisation and optimisation of technology, programmes aimed to enhance staff efficiency and communication as well as projects designed to provide the enterprise’s safety. The petrochemists created a road map to implement the programme, while the top tasks already began to be performed last year.

Company’s key digital areas

For instance, automation will influence major construction management processes, which will enable to reduce a facility’s commissioning, provide control and high quality of works. It is planned to allocate about 120 million rubles for this within Construction Management System project. Construction and assembly expenses are expected to decrease by 3% and operating costs are supposed to reduce by 1%.

New projects of APCS will control production, which will allow increasing the quality of products and reducing the number of consumers’ claims at all production stages. The introduction of new projects will improve the level of equipment of plants with modern APCS, which will account for 85% of the volume of all existing automation systems by 2023.

New projects of APCS will control production, which will allow increasing the quality of products and reducing the number of consumers’ claims at all production stages

An interactive plan is another novelty. It is a geographical and information system with buildings, roads, land parcels, scaffoldings, underground mains integrated with the enterprise management system. It will provide quick access to information about infrastructural facilities on an electronic map. The system will also have a function to control dangerous works. Current and planned works will be shown on a special screen in real time. If repairs, fire and gas works coincide, the system won’t allow it.

Smart warehouse, digital work permit and working time record

NKNK’s IT specialists implement no less interesting projects — Smart Warehouse. This system helps to manage warehouses. Its main task is to increase the useful amount of a warehouse, provide targeted storage, reduce the time required to pack and issue an order in subdivisions. The useful area increases by 46% on average.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim will also have a digital work permit. The system will allow significantly decreasing the time lost when preparing for dangerous works, improve workforce productivity by 5%, quality of preparations, the execution of preparations and their safety. Moreover, the system will permit select staff by qualification.

Working time record is another novelty developed by IT specialists of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC. Thanks to it, the petrochemists will know how much time they spent in the workplace and will be free from manual time sheets and access rules.

Industry 4.0 in petrochemical enterprise

In the last years, Nizhnekamskneftekhim has automated office business processes. Five programmed robots were put into operation last year only. Thanks to them, it became possible to free up to 108 hours of working time a year. It is planned to create about 20 smart robots, which will accelerate the performance of repeated office tasks and liberate staff from routine operations.

Transportation management is another system planned to be introduced at NKNK. It will cover all transport-related activities: shipping planning, order, tariff and calculation management, transportation and interaction with carriers through a portal. This project will reduce the time it takes a car to enter and load and expenses on transportation management.

All information in one digital system

Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s automation has influenced almost all activities of the enterprise. Information from sensors installed in the company’s production shops uninterruptedly goes to a united digital information system. Over 20 IT systems synchronise, coordinate, analyse and optimise the production. Another 50 IT systems manage the staff, finance and assets aimed at uninterrupted balancing and optimisation of the enterprise’s resources.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s automation has influenced almost all activities of the enterprise

Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s staff controls the air, monitor the production in real time. This information is shown on a screen and in automated workplaces. If needed, the enterprise’s workers receive an SMS.

For instance, services on duty receive electronic requests to eliminate remarks, while lorry drivers learn if loading is ready to start.

The digital information system covers environmental issues, electronic document management, feedstock and product transportation. It is widely used by the enterprise’s top managers, in HR, control systems and access management.

Mastering artificial intelligence

The petrochemists have also succeeded in the most breath-taking topic of the 21st century — artificial intelligence development. It is implemented at Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC on the basis of an artificial neural network integrated into the joint-stock company’s resource management system.

The enterprise’s neural network processes bank statements, sorts and registers incoming invoices.

The petrochemists have also succeeded in the most breath-taking topic of the 21st century — artificial intelligence development. However, it will soon be used in other business tasks. Artificial intelligence will forecast and assess risks, create trends and forecast tendencies for the development of key indicators of business process effectiveness, identify photo, video and audio content to activate services and even teach a machine to start a dialogue with information system users.

The petrochemists have also succeeded in the most breath-taking topic of the 21st century — artificial intelligence development

The petrochemists also plan to introduce and expand IT solutions developed in computer vision, optimisation of repair deadlines, failure prediction and so on.

Within promising projects, NKNK is planning to increase the transparency of production economy, introduce optimisation models when creating a production plan, provide control over staff actions, simplify communication between the employees and different devices and provide the development of smart surveillance systems.

Processing of 100K primary accounting documents a year

Nizhnekamskneftekhim has automated the processing of primary accounting documentation on the basis of its own development and with the help of smart ABBYY FlexiCapture platform.

Now just three employees of the corporate service centre handle a flow of thousands of incoming financial documents a month. Thanks to such an approach, specialists of the supply service don’t spend time to manually input information from incoming documents to the database system and can focus on the supply of subdivisions.

Augmenting the share in the world market, the company increases production capacities, attracts new investors, purchases the latest petrochemical equipment. For this purpose, about a hundred specialists purchase materials and services. Moreover, despite the development of legally valid electronic document management, most of Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s counteragents keep exchanging paper documents.

Earlier, the verification of this data and transfer of data from primary documents to the ERP system took specialists much time taking away their attention from more important tasks. This is why the company developed a set of programmes to identify, verify and register documents with ABBYY FlexiCapture.

The service centre’s employee doesn’t need special knowledge, it is enough to verify scanned invoices or universal transfer document (UTD) on ABBYY.

The company developed a set of programmes to identify, verify and register documents with ABBYY FlexiCapture

The solution automatically identifies the type of document, imports necessary data, compares data about the supplier and service in the ERP system and models a journal entry.

“We created a centralised service to register incoming documents in the company, provided the processing of a big amount of paper documents, which enables to rationally distribute resources in the supply service. Instead of verifying and reprinting data, managers can focus on the organisation of tenders, signing of contracts, control over the compliance with terms of agreements. We developed this ourselves without a third party contractor,” said Vasily Maltsev, director of the IT Department at Nizhnekamskneftekhim.

Digitalisation in favour of environment

Nizhnekamskneftekhim introduced an automated air monitoring system as early as 2008. So the petrochemists control the content of harmful substances in the enterprise, in the sanitary and protection zone and the Biological Treatment Facilities. The enterprise purchased a modern mobile ecological post in 2019 for quicker and better air monitoring. A special car equipped with necessary equipment — air pollution sensors, chromatographs, dust sensors, a meteorological set and automated information collection and processing system — takes air samples in 19 indicators at any point of the city and district.

All results of tests from five automated air pollution posts and the mobile lab are sent to the united environmental monitoring system online. Results are collected, stored, processed here, the data from five automated air pollution control post is sent to the Tatarstan Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources online.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim introduced an automated air monitoring system as early as 2008

The petrochemists took sewage under automated control. In 2019, three control posts were equipped with automated sewage quality assessment devices for pH and total organic carbon on NKNK’s industrial site. The information is also sent to the automated system of dispatching record of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC.

My Neftekhim mobile app

Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s IT specialists developed My Neftekhim mobile application that has sections with bus timetable, digest news of the company, calendar of sports events and vacant jobs. The company’s employees have additional services: they can order certificates and attested copies of documents, see a payroll, access the corporate phone book and self-service, noted Vasily Maltsev, director of the IT Department at Nizhnekamskneftekhim.

The application can be downloaded on the AppStore and Play Market.

“Every employee can get a login and password to a personal account even if the worker doesn’t have access to the corporate network. The petrochemists who support the company’s corporate culture must have a chance of taking advantage of all opportunities that are provided,” Vasily Maltsev, director of the IT Department at Nizhnekamskneftekhim, said.

Now the IT specialists of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC keep improving and expanding the functions of the application considering its integration with the resource management system and other services of the company. It is planned soon to show information on an employee’s working schedule, work record data, health hazard, holidays and career promotions, provision with special clothes and shoes and to launch a function to manage business trips.

Re-certification of SAP for compliance with world standards

And this is just a small part of the programmes developed by the IT specialists at NKNK. The effect of the implementation of new projects will be over 4,5 billion rubles in the next five years.

By the way, this year the IT specialists of Nizhnekamskneftekhim proved their high professionalism. The enterprise successfully went through the re-certification of the SAP Customer Centers of Expertise for compliance with world standards.

NKNK successfully went through the re-certification of the SAP Customer Center of Expertise for compliance with world standards

This system has been used in the company since 2006 and it has been effectively operating in business processes. The petrochemists provide its flawless operation: administration, settings, technical support and development. By the way, the petrochemists obtained the first certificate of the Customer Center as early as 2007. At that moment, they were the first in the sector and fifth among all Russian companies.

Affiliate report

By Liliya Yegorova. Photo courtesy of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC
Analytics Tatarstan