Pumping ideas for Neste

by Erik Mashkilleyson

Envisioning a social network for stakeholders in a sustainable supply chain at Neste Hackathon last week, Nortal’s presentation got the highest remarks for its professionalism and innovative approach.

After 24 hours of neglecting our sleeping caps in favor of our thinking caps Neste’s sustainable supply chain hackathon aka Hack the Supply was over. Neste is the world’s leading producer of renewable diesel and they are constantly developing the world’s most advanced fuels, even after six decades of oil refining.

Neste was looking for a revolutionary outside-the-box idea to shape the way they manage their highly complicated supply chains and track their suppliers’ sustainability and bio compliance. They set up an overnight hackathon on the 23 and 24 May – an idea workshop that teams could compete in to find solutions to their problem.

Our idea was called the Neste ecosystem of sustainable suppliers. Think of it as LinkedIn for bio-oil suppliers. Neste suppliers would create a public profile to prove that they are certified, what they produce and what it is like to work in their facilities in general. This is linked to supply chain planning tools and a dashboard for a clearly visualized overview.

We targeted the four criteria that would make our idea both solid in practicality and ambitious in its creativity.

1. Innovativeness of the idea

Neste Hackathon profile

Social networks have been around for over a decade, but the gist of our idea was making supply chain information public.

Transparency is the best guarantee of sustainability and a key value at Neste. An open and public network similar to LinkedIn is rarely used in company-supplier-NGO relations. So, just like LinkedIn, the dashboard would indicate when the supplier profiles are only “85% complete” and the suppliers could be given tips on how to achieve their certifications.

The most common way to create a good LinkedIn profile is to find a good one and copy it (from what I hear), and this would also be the case with suppliers around the world. The best practices of sustainable “100% complete” suppliers would stand out and be copied, thereby spreading good working conditions and environmental standards to other suppliers.

Neste would also have a channel to scour the world for more innovative and sustainable suppliers.

2. Usefulness for the end user

Neste Hackathon comparison

Current suppliers are motivated to keep up with their sustainability targets, copy the best practices and communicate with each other to create new business models.

To be useful we had to know who the main stakeholders are in the sustainable supply chain. To that end, we laid out a platform not only for Neste’s employees but also for the other “end-users”. The idea for our network was to create an ecosystem where suppliers, Neste’s supply chain planners, and NGO auditors can enter information and applications into the system to make it useful for everyone.

In this way, a) The oil suppliers can communicate with each other, b) NGOs can communicate with the suppliers and Neste, and c) Neste can mentor the suppliers with the help of NGOs.

The network allows suppliers to create co-ops if they are too small individually or get noticed even though their marketing resources are limited.

3. Technical feasibility

Neste Hackathon tracking system

The supplier information can be laid out in a map and filtered according to every criteria. If you want to see the corn oil shipment due today to the refinery in Rotterdam, just activate the tracking system.

Thanks to 17 years of experience with Neste and the expertise of Juha Virko and Kalle Mattas, we could spell out how our solution could be integrated into Neste’s existing systems, and how Neste’s supply chain planning tools could add value to the network.

Knowing where the suppliers are and what kinds of shipments they can produce, the network can be turned into a visualized map and supplier comparison system. The next step would be to optimize the right suppliers for the right deliveries.

4. Quality of the pitch

Neste Hackathon supplier comparison

Look at the schedules and routes and switch from map view to comparison view to optimize your suppliers and shipments.

Our fantastic designers David Castillo and Mari-Liis  Kärsten created stunning visuals for what the sustainability tracking system could look like. Each step was made to look simple, regardless of the number of data points shown on screen. When you feel you are not looking at a supply chain planning system but at a social network instead, it puts your mind at ease.

Neste Hackathon Erik Mashkilleyson presenting

Erik Mashkilleyson presenting the Neste ecosystem of sustainable suppliers to the jury.

Our idea went down well and we got a special award for the best presentation and an honorable mention for professionalism and our innovative approach. We are very proud of our team!

Neste Hackathon team

Our team: Erik Mashkilleyson, Juha Virko, David Castillo and Mari-Liis Kärsten (Kalle Mattas not in photo)

Best of all, everyone participating in Helsinki and Singapore came together to think of ways to achieve the cleanest and most sustainable fuel possible and a secure livelihood for oil suppliers. With a transparent supply chain that reaches from producer to consumer, each person has the chance to not only look at the price at the pump but also which part of the planet it is coming from.

If you are thinking of participating in a hackathon yourself, read my earlier text presenting four hints to hack a hackathon.
If you are interested in the digitalization of the oil and energy industry, have a look at our Digital Oil & Energy solution.