An ambitious, multi-phase digitalisation and automatisation project has provided unparalleled visibility process at SA’s largest mineral freight logistics company. Keyrus, a leading business data intelligence consultancy, used cloud-based technologies and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to develop a comprehensive solution that gives the logistics giant significantly improved performance of their operations.
The solution highlights the power of modern technology to solve business challenges. It includes multiple layers of technology and provides a combination of data streaming, analytics, logic matching and visualisation technologies and was designed using a range of Microsoft Azure services, Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) and Tableau visualisation software.
Layer 1: Dynamic cloud-based data capturing solution
The first phase involved building a dynamic cloud-based operations solution. Data can be captured from anywhere—from the side of the railway track to head office—from any device.
All information relevant to the business, such as a train or truck arriving at a facility, is captured into this solution. Much of this information is drawn from supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, which in turns collects data from the programmable logic controller (PLC) machines throughout the facilities.
This raw data is streamed in near real-time directly to the cloud and then integrated with business-related consignment information to provide meaningful insight.
The system is multi-lingual so that employees in various international locations can convert it to their language for a better user experience. The solution is totally scalable, allowing it to be rolled out to additional sites quickly and efficiently.
This solution replaces all previous manual data and spreadsheets. It produces accurate, tidy information that are used for data analytics and reporting. Governance, security and control are additional features built into the application.
Layer 2: World-class reporting and analytics
Phase two involved implementing the visualisation layer of reporting to turn the data into meaningful business information. This ensures responsiveness by providing an immediate view of the state of operations from any location.
Tableau, a leading world-class Business Intelligence tool, is fully embedded into the over-arching solution to ensure full visibility - complete reporting and analytics capability at an operational, tactical, and strategic level. Information consumption is now simpler, and users can easily access reports, graphs, and dashboards.
Previously manually extracted data from various third-party Excel spreadsheets has been replaced by the stockpile measurement module. This system allows accurate stockpile reporting that gives a simple view of movements into and movements out of every stockpile. Tableau’s powerful drill-down capabilities allow users to view this information at extreme levels of detail.
Layer 3: Planning & forecasting
The planning layer allows the commercial teams to capture and compare actual performance against the planned performance. The commercial team also provides live tracking updates / whilst the operations team can manage the facility according to plan, making informed decisions as to service intervals for machinery, for example. The Shift Module to monitor staff on site as well as any delays or downtime during each shift also allows for more accurate planning and effective use of resources.
The benefits of modern data architecture
Keyrus essentially closed and integrated the information gap between customer’s various management activities, enabling the organisation to optimise its entire logistics process. The design and implementation of the stack of various technology solutions delivered significant improvements in efficiency, visibility, and decision-making and totally transformed analytical capability and therefore competitive edge for the customer.
“We’re experts at tackling complex problems and providing our customers with straightforward, effective, and scalable solutions. We make data matter,” concludes Craig Andrew, Head of Data Analytics at Keyrus.