Keyrus implements industrial data integration solution for SA logistics giant

Johannesburg, 23 Sep 2020

SA’s largest mineral freight logistics company now has comprehensive visibility into its disparate third-party industrial systems. Leading business data intelligence consultancy Keyrus has integrated data from various Grindrod Terminal's standalone industrial systems into the organisation’s operational data to provide a single version of the truth, accessible via dashboards and their Visibility System.

The near real-time solution was designed using a range of leading technology platforms including Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), Azure Data Factory and Azure Cloud Storage. Tableau software is used to visualise and present the data.

Grindrod’s Terminal business faced tough consolidation challenges as a result of a number of fit-for-purpose but independent industrial proprietary applications. These provide bespoke services for the vastly different areas of its business recording data from train and truck weighbridges, as well as from rail tippler equipment. The challenge, however, was to bring this data together to provide a holistic and integrated view of the data to enable business decision-making. The solution leverages cloud-based technology to address the disparate geographic locations and also to provide visibility to the data from any location.

This part of the solution augments the work done in previous phases where Keyrus was contracted to extract this industrial data and integrate it with the operational data pulled from programmable logic controller (PLC) machines in Grindrod’s facilities.

“Our challenge was to ensure this data was transformed into one, consistent format that could be pushed to the central, cloud-based data warehouse we set up for Grindrod,” says SSRS expert Evan Barke.

The ability of modern technology to solve business challenges lies at the heart of the way Keyrus operates. SSIS, a component Microsoft’s SQL Server database software, was adopted to build a high-performance data integration solution for Grindrod. This pushes the data at a set frequency, only moving new data records.

“The integration package we’ve installed on a central server at Richards Bay, for example, finds any new rows of data every five minutes and pushes that to the Azure environment,” says Barke. “All data is now also protected from on-site equipment failures.”

Azure Data Factory is used for all Grindrod’s integration touch-points. It is here that data undergoes further transformation and is matched back to the master data stored in the organisation’s overarching application, Falcon, also designed by Keyrus.

The solution boasts a flexible architecture, capable of expanding to include any future third-party systems. It is also cost-effective as data integration flows are planned to ensure cloud resources are not shared by too many pipelines trying to execute at any one time.

Grindrod now also benefits from centralised visibility into what data is moving and when. If anything fails, alerts for action are triggered.

“The experts at Keyrus made clever use of a combination of sophisticated technology and back-to-basics tools to consolidate our disparate data into a central, cloud-based data warehouse,” says Bronwyn Burdis, Data and Analytics Manager at Grindrod’s Terminal business. “They are extremely flexible in their approach, resulting in quick turnaround times. We now have the single source of truth, which is so vital for optimising our processes.”

“This implementation shows that, regardless of the mechanisms that limit the source systems, we are able to integrate the data and make business sense of it using Tableau,” says senior consultant at Keyrus, Craig Andrew.

“Grindrod is dependent on this fine level of detail to ensure more productive and effective throughput. It is wonderful to work with a customer with the foresight and willingness to invest in the future, and we’re delighted to be their integration partner. We pride ourselves on building a long-term value for our clients' business,” adds Greg Guye, CEO at Keyrus.


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