• Joe Atkinson

Dashboards vs. Reports for Mine Site Reporting

Updated: Nov 16


The primary value driver for investment in mining technology (in addition to the improvements in safety and production, and the reduction of operating costs), is the ability to generate and access data. The rich dataset generated by fleet management systems provides mines with an accurate, reliable way of measuring many aspects of performance, and using this information to streamline day-to-day operations even further.


As mining companies continue to move closer towards the realms of ‘Big Data’ for use in advanced analytics, choosing the right method of communicating your mining industry data to your prospective audience is absolutely vital. It means people who are ultimately using the tools are able to access timely, clear and useful information with which they can make accurate decisions based on measurable facts.


In this month's blog, we’d like to discuss what should be considered when deciding whether to display your mining fleet management system data in a dashboard or in a report.


Mining Reports


New technology in mining is growing at an exponential rate, and as mining industry trends move further away from ‘traditional’ business intelligence, we firmly believe that for some applications, PDF reports are a tried and tested way of delivering information in a timely manner.


What exactly do we mean by ‘mining reports’? Well, essentially we are referring to automatic, scheduled reports that miraculously land in your email inbox once per shift, or once per month - depending on how you use the data at your mine.


There are a variety of business intelligence solutions that have this capability (such as SAP Business Objects), and we find that automatic, scheduled publications are still the best way to distribute information that does not necessarily need to undergo deeper analysis or be reviewed regularly throughout the day.


An example of a Critical Trend report for a Mine Maintenance department. Note the conditional formatting that draws the eye to equipment trending outside of specification.

Mining Reports


New technology in mining is growing at an exponential rate, and as mining industry solutions move further away from ‘traditional’ business intelligence, we firmly believe that for some applications, PDF reports are a tried and tested way of delivering information in a timely manner.


What exactly do we mean by ‘mining reports’? Well, essentially we are referring to automatic, scheduled reports that miraculously land in your email inbox once per shift, or once per month - depending on how you use the data at your mine.


There are a variety of business intelligence solutions that have this capability (such as SAP Business Objects), and we find that automatic, scheduled publications are still the best way to distribute information that does not necessarily need to undergo deeper analysis or be reviewed regularly throughout the day.


Examples of the type of information that is suitable for inclusion within a scheduled report or publication are as follows:


  • Twice-daily ‘End of Shift’ reporting - Designed for the mining management team to understand how the shift performed. This can be integrated with our Reporting Enrichment Forms to provide greater context to just fleet management system production numbers.

  • Weekly or Monthly ‘Compliance to Mine Plan’ reporting - Designed to allow the mining management, operations and engineering teams to understand how the site is progressing towards short-term design and long-term planning goals.

  • Weekly or On-Demand ‘Planned Change Out’ reporting - Designed to provide information about when a component was last changed out and assist with planning of maintenance.


Mining Dashboards


For some applications such as short interval control tools for mining operations, dashboards are by far the most suitable method of presenting data.


  • Production (Current Shift, Month to Date or Year to Date) - Designed to display rolling KPI’s and metrics on a range of granularity or timescales.

  • Machine Alarm Analysis - Designed to display information about all the alarms generated by the fleet in a series of time-periods, with drill-downs for equipment type, event frequency, event type and event level.


We strongly feel that a dashboard is best suited to the type of mining industry analytics described above, because of the amount of data that can be flexibly visualised in one place vs. a report that could end up stretching to many pages. Data providers for dashboards are also more flexible, instead of scheduling or manually running a fixed report, users simply open a published dashboard that automatically updates either on-demand or every X minutes.


An example of a basic equipment alarms analysis dashboard with a useful timeline feature, built in Tableau.

Dashboards are not just an elegant solution that requires little-to-no maintenance, they also allow for drill-down capabilities and functionality that is just not possible within a scheduled PDF or Excel report. For instance, if total delay time was included in a dashboard, users could drill-down to see which machines and delay types were most frequent. Similarly, total tonnes mined could easily be drilled down to look at % of waste to ore, or % of material types.


There is an increasingly complex array of dashboard offerings on the market that utilise a range of data access methods - from Tableau, which can be wired up to use a database view, through to Squirrel365, which can work with an existing Business Intelligence architecture.


Presenting your mining technology data in dashboards undoubtedly offers end users more flexibility in comparison to a report… but be aware, not all dashboarding software is equal! Some software requires much greater overheads in terms of costs and infrastructure, yet offers much greater capabilities, and some dashboarding software will need some coding experience - so choose your tool (or range of tools) wisely.


Broadly speaking we have found that:

  • Tableau - Best for ‘drilling down’ into datasets for analysis and handling lots of data, but requires some coding knowledge to prep the data first.

  • PowerBI - Best for ease of use and flexibility but again, requires some coding knowledge to prep the data first.

  • Squirrel365 - A very cost-effective dashboarding tool that can slot into your existing SAP BusinessObjects infrastructure and does not need coding knowledge.

Note about 'coding knowledge' - in our experience, the ability to combine data from multiple databases and different mining technology manufacturers within a single point of access generally requires T-SQL coding knowledge. We're advocates for doing this via a single data warehouse that is used for all reporting purposes (whether for dashboards or scheduled reports).


MTS Mining Dashboards


A significant part of our work is building bespoke data visualisations for mine sites running some form of fleet management system, condition monitoring system or high-precision machine guidance systems. We cover all major manufacturers and we can work with your preferred Business Intelligence tool - whether that is Business Objects, Tableau or PowerBI. We also build simple software solutions such as MineView Landing Page - to collect all of your dashboards and reporting tools into one place.


Our mining dashboards are built with one aim - to help the customer more easily access their data, measure their performance and manage their mine.


If you are still struggling with some of the issues relating to business intelligence in the mining industry, get in touch - MTS specialise in delivering mining industry BI solutions. To learn more about our mining consultancy services and mining industry solutions & projects, please contact us here.


#dashboards #businessintelligence #strategy

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