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Power of modern data architecture

Johannesburg, 21 Feb 2023

An ambitious, multi-phase digitalisation and automatisation project has enhanced the visibility process at a South African mineral freight logistics company. Keyrus, a business data intelligence consultancy, used cloud-based technologies and the industrial internet of things (IIOT) to develop a solution that gives the logistics company improved performance of their operations.

This complex project was led by Craig Andrew, Head of Data Analytics at Keyrus, who will be presenting on: ‘The benefits of modern data stack and its role in unlocking the potential of data’ at the ITWeb Business Intelligence Summit, to be held from 7 to 9 March, at The Maslow Hotel, in Johannesburg.

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 a 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 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 is 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 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 drill-down capabilities allow users to view this information at extreme levels of detail.

Layer 3: Planning and 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, while 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.

Benefits of modern data architecture

Keyrus essentially closed and integrated the information gap between customers' 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.

Keyrus has an excellent track record in implementing modern technology, local presence and competitive pricing. Keyrus’ experts are highly experienced and able to offer practical solutions using reputable, modern and scalable cloud-based technology solutions. Their approach is pragmatic and demonstrates clear understanding of their customers'  business challenges.

“We’re experts at tackling complex problems and providing our customers with straightforward, effective and scalable solutions. We make data matter,” concludes Andrew.