From the chaos of Excel to the clarity of the Cloud
The Customer Challenge
Like many modern large enterprises, this mining company is on a journey to democratise access and use of their data assets. And, like many large organisations, different departments are at different stages of this data journey. The geology department approached TechConnect IT Solutions to help them take the next step. Within each mine, stopes (the open spaces created through the extraction of the desired ore and minerals from underground mines) are planned out by the geology team.
Core to this planning are the estimates of the grades and tonnages of each of the mined metals. Measurements taken at each stage of development allow the geologists to track the accuracy of their estimates from pre-blasting all the way through to delivery of the final product. Prior to engaging with TechConnect, the internal process was for each geologist to manage the estimates, assumptions, calculations and projections in separate Excel spreadsheets for each stope. While these spreadsheets were able to source data from upstream databases, each geologist retained individual copies for each stope. This resulted in calculations that diverged over time and across the different mine sites. These divergences made comparisons between geologists, mine sites and individual stopes impossible and the identification of systemic inefficiencies problematic.
Further, the embedding of these computations within spreadsheets made debugging, testing and quality assurance difficult.
To capture data, estimates and assumptions in a consistent way across time and different mine sites, TechConnect built a bespoke Single Page Web Application for the geology team hosted on the Azure cloud. Integrated with the company’s single sign on system, each user is granted access to only the stopes and functionality required for their role.
Users are able to enter the data (which was previously captured in the Excel spreadsheets) securely from any location using a familiar web interface. The ability for supervisors to sign off estimates, data and financials with a single click was an additional crucial business function that was enabled by the deployment of this application.
With the data now captured and verified in a centralised and consistent database, interactive PowerBI reports replaced the Excel charts used to visualise the existing life-cycle of a stope. More crucially, additional dashboards were created to analyse the performance of stopes, sites and geologists across the entire organisation. With the embedded dashboards, geologists can see their data visualised in near real-time without having to leave the application.
The new dashboards have led to insights which have improved estimates and efficiencies within the geology team. Having the infrastructure hosted on the cloud means the maintenance burden and on-going costs to host the solution are negligible.