A short story …

An old sage once said, ‘Information is collected in fragments but data unites information into a single activity”. Joining data sets to foster collaboration between groups, I predict, will become more and more necessary over time. With LTE on the rise (and soon LTE-advanced), all the key stakeholders in Mining are waking up to the possibilities (‘LTE in a Mining Setting‘) that utilising data to facilitate collaboration will provide meaningful and contextual information so that the correct business decisions can be made.

Until recently, production and communications data have mostly been confined to the mine site, although some data has crept out in a static way to be displayed in colourful tables and graphs.

Over the last couple of years, fibre optic cables and high capacity microwave backhaul links have been built in an effort to pull IT, Comms, Control and what other data back to the head office. Invariably this data ends up in various compartmented databases … but there is a problem.


The problem
When a fault occurs, is it with Communications, IT or the SCADA network? On the surface it may be a simple question to answer. However responses from a survey undertaken by Titan ICT within the Mining and Gas sector, show this is not the case when asked ‘how many databases are you aware of in your own organisation’. Figure 1 below shows number of databases used by group.

Article 1 - Figure 1

In the survey, respondents indicated the use of multiple databases across a small number of functions. This is not a startling statistic in itself; however what was surprising was that those functions had no easy way to quickly identify whose responsibility it was to take the necessary action(s). All functions are working towards the same goal yet operate independently, and they are forced to do so because each relies on their own data source(s).

The survey also highlighted a number of issues, with the main point being that data is not immediately useful and data in isolation caused inefficiencies and confusion. The below graph tells of the classic 80/20 rule, and in this case 85% of the problems are caused by 15% of the issues.


The Solution
Since I come from a communications background, I’ve had to quiz a many Element Manager to identify faults. However I found that individual Network Managers on their own did not tell the whole story, and others could use this information as well.

The above real world activities show that identifying an issue is highly problematic; they are bumped from group to group until someone comes up with enough evidence to say “it’s not me”. Gathering this evidence was found to be very difficult because of the number of data sources and incoherent information. Information is fractured.

By combining data sources, one ecosystem can be made to not only unite information for collaborative purposes rather it can create a single heartbeat which gives rich insights in to how the system is functioning. The graph below shows an example of how collaboration is able to inform stakeholders where the problem might be. Titan ICT’s automated data analytics method gives the business a 95% confidence interval (CI) as to where the fault may lie.

Article 1 - Figure 3

I believe there is plenty of data flow but little analytics and by consolidating datasets will facilitate collaboration between functional groups.

If you have a variety of data sources and would like to know how to combine them to create a collaborative environment and in turn gain valuable insights into the possibilities, contact Ben Hamilton on +617 3360 4900.