Posted on 03 Jun 21 by Graeme Woods
Learn how KZN helped Galaxy Resources move from spreadsheets to a reliable and scalable reporting solution, without needing to deploy infrastructure.
Galaxy Resources is an ASX listed company with a global portfolio of lithium assets. Galaxy Resources’ lithium is used for powering everything from mobile phones to electric cars.
Galaxy operates the Mt Cattlin hard rock mine in Ravensthorpe Western Australia, and is establishing new operations in Argentina and Canada.
Galaxy Resources engaged KZN Group to build an AWS based reporting solution for the Mt Cattlin mining operation. This included a SCADA interface with associated forms and file upload capabilities. The reporting solution is part of Galaxy Resources’ management information system, and is used to guide operational and strategic decisions.
This reporting solution can be extended as additional capabilities are needed, and also used as a basis for reporting across Galaxy’s operations. In addition, this solution is Galaxy’s first step to leveraging AWS.
Galaxy Resources previously used a complex and comprehensive suite of spreadsheets with hundreds of links between the files. This needed one person full time to manage data. This solution was inherently fragile and it was difficult to ensure the accuracy of the reports produced.
All data was manually entered, including manual re-entry of data from the SCADA historian. As well as being time consuming and unproductive, this introduced the possibility of data entry errors. With a complex network of spreadsheets, it was very difficult to trace and correct these errors in draft reports.
The Galaxy IT department identified the need for a better way of providing reports. Galaxy’s vision was for a robust AWS based reporting solution that improved the quality of data available for decision making and increased employee productivity.
Timely and accurate data supports Galaxy’s decision making. Employee productivity would be improved by eliminating the need for working around spreadsheet limitations and reducing manual data entry.
AWS was a key part of the Galaxy vision. AWS provided the opportunity for Galaxy to use a reporting solution without having to provision servers or incur fixed costs.
The delivered reporting solution includes the following components:
Security and infrastructure - this ensures that the solution integrates with Galaxy’s Active Directory and secures Galaxy’s data. This includes the database tables, which store over 300 columns of daily data.
SCADA interface - this extracts data from the GE Data Historian. SCADA data includes tonnages for each part of the ore processing plant.
Data upload - this allows upload of Excel spreadsheets, which are used for mining plans.
Data entry forms - these are for manual entry of data which is not available through a feed.
Database - the reporting solution uses optimised PostgreSQL running on Amazon RDS.
ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) - AWS Lambda is used to extract data from uploads and forms, as well as for any calculations that are needed to support reporting. KZN developed Lambda scripts that reproduced the results from the existing Excel spreadsheet solution.
Reporting - this solution can use Galaxy’s choice of reporting tools, allowing Galaxy to build new reports or update existing reports.
Galaxy’s work was a challenging project that highlighted KZN’s skills in data warehouse implementation and the capabilities of AWS services.
One significant item of work was developing the hundreds of calculations needed to transform raw inputs into reporting metrics by converting the existing spreadsheet formulas.
The solution includes the ability for Galaxy to include their choice of reporting solution which makes it easy for Galaxy to create new reports.
Reporting data is sensitive so Galaxy prioritised security. Galaxy’s solution benefits from AWS advanced security features and AWS security best practices.
As a result of this project, Galaxy now has a secure and extensible reporting solution that integrates directly into source systems, such as the SCADA Historian.
Galaxy’s new solution addresses the issues of the existing spreadsheet based reports. Data entry effort has been reduced by focusing on only the data required for reporting, and by automatically populating data from the SCADA. In addition, the new solution is robust and not reliant on inherently fragile linked spreadsheets.
Galaxy and KZN have identified a number of improvement opportunities to evolve the solution. These include:
Linking to more sources of enterprise data, such as Galaxy’s planning system
Extracting more types of data from SCADA
Creating new spreadsheet like data entry forms
Adding AWS machine learning based features to improve the insights into the data through anomaly detection, forecasting and being able to query the data using natural language processing
Working on a data taxonomy to better organise and describe the data.
Learn more about how KZN can assist you with your Data and Analytics ambitions here.