Drilling for data - Simplified and automated data across the board
About Swick Mining
Swick Mining Services is one of Australia’s largest mineral drilling contractors in surface and underground projects, employing over 350 people.
The company is a leader in innovative rig designs and drilling practices and has enjoyed double digit growth for the last several years.
Swick has grown quickly from a small company to a large organisation with ambitious, international growth plans, and has established itself in North America, Canada and Portugal. Its previous IT system did not have the capacity to deal with this expansion. For example, Excel spreadsheets were used to manage daily activity sheets, costings and prices; and faxes or email were used to share the data. Time was wasted in duplicate handling and the system didn’t support web services.
Swick records a lot of critical operational data, like how many metres drilled, in what conditions, what consumables were used, and how long did the project take? It’s all essential for contract management. As Phillip Stewart says, “If you don’t know what you’re doing you could be short-changing yourself by millions.”
Swick’s previous PLOD system involved lots of manual data recording and duplication. Information would be recorded underground on a notepad. Someone topside would then spend half an hour transferring all the information to a manual form, and from there it would go on to data entry.
The company sorely needed external system integration, and that’s what this project delivered.
Phillip Stewart, Manager Business Systems, Swick Mining Services, said "Empired is process driven and has far better progress documentation than other companies. It was one of the things that drew us to them. What’s more, in order to write the correct functional code they had to understand our business – and they worked hard at this.”
"Empired is process driven and has far better progress documentation than other companies. It was one of the things that drew us to them. What’s more, in order to write the correct functional code they worked hard to understand our business."
Manager Business Systems, Swick Mining
NAV 4, installed in 2007, was no longer supported by Microsoft and it was clear that to meet future business requirements it was necessary to migrate to Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013. Two burning questions emerged: How to do this cost effectively, given the scale and complexity of Swick’s business, and how to customise the system to give Swick the most bang for its dollar?
Empired performed a “diagnostic” engagement to determine how best to upgrade from version 4 to NAV 2013. Empired recommended a “hybrid” upgrade that would allow Swick to retain existing processes and functionality that worked for them, for example recording daily activity sheets (called PLODs. This approach also allowed for the greatest retention of historic data.
Swick’s expected key benefits of moving to NAV 2013 include: improved efficiency and effectiveness through automating many manual tasks; improved data integrity and accuracy by reducing bugs and improving/removing manual journaling processes; greater transparency and accountability across the business; and retiring many customisations in favour of standard functionality (such as timesheets/MPDRs).
A number of the functional requirements and improvements to their system were met by new functionality available in NAV 2013, such as timesheets, improved job capabilities, usability improvements, SharePoint integration (to a stand-alone, shift data capture system called NetPLOD) and Empired’s Dynamics NAV Extensions add-on.
In addition, Empired created a number of functionality enhancements specifically for Swick. SharePoint integration has allowed Swick to track projects across the board and to connect them into their ERP and billing system. Swick can now tackle big projects more confidently. Empired also integrated another system for them – ERS or electronic requisition – which is used by staff in the field to order supplies and equipment. They can now query stock levels in real time, generate purchase orders, and bring the plant maintenance system into Dynamics NAV, using that data to generate jobs with job costings.
Swick will now develop their mastery of the new functionality that lies at their fingertips, extending its application into asset maintenance (reducing project downtime), and integrating information from specialist miners into their CAD system. That means much less time will be spent on non-value-added tasks and customer service will reach new heights.
The business case
A company in growth mode, and one of Australia’s largest mineral drilling contractors, Swick Mining Services needed to upgrade and integrate its financial and operational systems to manage its global expansion.
The business value
- Improved efficiency and effectiveness through automation of manual tasks
- Improved data integrity
- Greater transparency and accountability across the business
- Ability to handle big projects more confidently
- Improved customer service as a result of less time being spent on non-value add tasks
- Access to real-time information