SA’s largest mineral freight logistics company is benefitting from improved decision-making and operational efficiencies following the recent rollout of a sophisticated data automation solution.
The solution includes a combination of data streaming, analytics, logic matching and visualisation technologies. It was designed by Keyrus, a leading business data intelligence consultancy, that assists enterprises leverage their data and information to enhance performance.
“Essentially we have closed and integrated the information gap between Grindrod’s operations and top management, enabling the organisation to optimise its entire logistics process,” says Greg Guye, CEO at Keyrus.
Grindrod Terminal business is part of the JSE-listed freight logistics business, Grindrod Limited, which primarily moves cargo from the point of departure to the final destination. It was facing the traditional legacy problems of siloed teams and stand-alone, paper-based systems containing massive amounts of raw data and low levels of visibility to other key stakeholders. This constrained the flow of information to key decision-makers. The logistics giant needed accurate, real-time insight into its operations and had the foresight to invest in technology as a platform for strategic change and growth into the future.
The experts at Keyrus used modern cloud technologies and Industrial IoT to develop a comprehensive solution to solve these business challenges. Ignition, a supervisory control, and a data acquisition (SCADA) system were implemented. It draws data from the programmable logic controller (PLC) machines throughout Grindrod’s facilities.
This raw data is streamed in near real-time directly to the cloud using Microsoft Azure Stream Analytics. Here, complex matching logic is applied, combining the operational data with business information. Microsoft Azure Data Lake is used for cost-effective storage, and a SQL Data Warehouse ensures the Azure Data Factory service can assess and execute various options to transform and match the Ignition data to consignment information.
Finally, this consolidated information is aggregated into an easy-to-use embedded Tableau dashboard. This is the visualisation layer of reporting which turns the data into meaningful business information.
“Ignition seamlessly integrates the various operational components of Grindrod’s complex pit-to-port business, but this raw data is mostly only understood by the managers that operate the machinery and plants,” says Craig Andrew, senior consultant at Keyrus. “Our job was to integrate that raw data with business-related, consignment information to provide meaningful insight into the entire organisation.”
Apart from access to accurate, consolidated reporting of operational activities, Grindrod also now has best-in-class architecture, using new cloud-based technologies, to ensure a highly reliable, flexible, and scalable solution.
“We built the architecture and framework so any other operational activity can feed into it,’ says Andrew. “This will enable Grindrod to achieve even deeper integration in the future, for example, with vehicle telemetry systems.”
“Grindrod now has clear visibility throughout its terminal operations. Our management teams have access to relevant information, at the appropriate level of detail, and can act promptly. The timely insight into operational constraints is a key benefit of this project and one that will help us secure our leadership position in the industry for the future,” comments Vishal Deeplaul, CEO of Grindrod’s Terminals business
Greg Guye concludes that this data automation solution forms part of a much larger project conceptualised and implemented by Keyrus. “We admire Grindrod’s leadership for their foresight and willingness to invest into the future and are extremely grateful to be involved in the complete digitalisation of their terminal operations.”