Why is having a "Single Source of the Truth" so important in mining?
Have you been in a situation where there has been a competing set of numbers between departments, but each department thinks their information is the “truth?” Or have you had a spreadsheet fail and End of Month reporting has taken twice as long as a result? What about a spreadsheet fail that causes a project timeline to be thrown out? The problem with using spreadsheets to report on massive streams of data is that each spreadsheet acts as a mini database and is rarely integrated into a company’s production management system.
Technology has advanced beyond the capability of humans to absorb and utilise data. In mining, everything from hard hats to haul trucks create a tsunami of valuable information, but the value of this data is not being realised by most companies. The problem is not lack of data, rather the opposite, and every new piece of technology introduces more valuable, but largely uncontrolled data to a mine site.
The Integration Gap
The report, Productivity in Mining: Now Comes the Hard Part, by Ernst Young, posits that one of the major battles mining companies face is “The Integration Gap.” In the report they discuss how The Integration Gap, or uncontrolled data silos, are one of modern mining’s greatest challenges. They discuss the importance of building an integrated “single source of the truth.” Importantly, the report highlights that only with good data can companies understand what good performance looks like, and companies that successfully use their data, outperform their peers by 20 percent.
Spreadsheets ARE NOT a Database
Without establishing a “single source of the truth solution,” data is usually extracted from a source system and collected into a spreadsheet, then more data is exported from another source system and collected in another spreadsheet, and so on. With this system in place, data collection is amalgamated from multiple databases, in this case spreadsheets.
This means multi-million and in some cases multi-billion dollar operations are propped up by spreadsheets, and rely on the person who makes the calculations in the spreadsheet to be completely free of error. It also assumes that the spreadsheet won’t crash, a likely possibility when dealing with documents of this size. Thus, the spreadsheet always needs to be in the hands of an expert in the event of a miscalculation or a crash.
So what happens if that person isn't onsite or is on holiday?
In that situation, incorrect data is transferred to the finance department and inaccuracies are reported to the market. It goes without saying that this is highly problematic.
Data Silos are Risky
The main reason businesses look for a “single source of the truth” solution is because they realise the risks and limitations of data silos. Recently, Intov8 were approached by a prospective customer wanting to solve their data silo issues. For them, across multiple sites, each site had a different way of collecting, reporting and calculating data. Day and night shift managers also had their own methods. Here, the company recognised that what they were reporting might have been somewhat correct, but it certainly was not the “truth.”
Intov8 Turns Your Data into Dollars
Intov8 have implemented a “single source of the truth” solution at several mine sites looking to solve their cumbersome and time-consuming data management processes. These mine sites had reported low levels of trust in reporting. This sub-optimal situation resulted in slower decision making and difficult-to-execute mine optimisation initiatives. Implementing our software meant they could address these pain points and change the way they managed their data, restoring data integrity and streamlining their processes.
Recently, a new customer turned to Intov8 for a “single source of the truth” solution that had the ability to aggregate all of their disparate data sources.
Planning, Geological Modelling, Fleet, CHPP, Maintenance and People.
Through deliberations with multiple stakeholders, Intov8 revealed an overly complex process at their site. It included handwritten logs, daily once-off data extractions and a validation process that required more than 95 steps, “best guess inputs” and multiple departments to complete. Furthermore, once those validations and adjustments were made in the production reporting system, the adjustments then needed to be manually updated across multiple systems to create some sort of data integrity. This process also meant a significant portion of time was invested in End of Month reporting.
Overall there was general distrust in the numbers being reported and the nature of the current system meant the management team couldn't directly relate reported numbers back to in-pit activities.
They needed a real-time production reporting and inventory accounting system, or Enterprise Data Warehouse solution. Intov8 delivered a “single source of the truth” solution for the site, thereby creating data integrity, significantly reducing the time spent on reconciliation and End of Month and alleviating stress on the team.