HxGN Radio

Improving your Geological Planning Workflow

BK: Welcome to HxGN Radio. I’m Brian, thanks for joining us today. Classic Geo Modeling Methods. This can take weeks or months to construct one interpretive scenario. Modern minds do not have the luxury to wait on model updates to make decisions. The trend is to update your model live to be streamlined with the rest of the planning process. This is now possible with Hexagon Mining’s latest solution, GeoLogic. With me today is Seth Gering, the product manager in planning at Hexagon Mining, and today we are going to be discussing GeoLogic. Seth, thanks for joining me.

SG: Thanks, Brian.

BK: Having fun here?

SG: Yes, it’s a big crowd.

BK: Good.

SG: Enjoying my time here so far.

BK: It’s good, that’s important. Well, thanks. We’re gonna be chatting all about this today and having some fun. Tell me first of all about your role at Hexagon Mining.

SG: Sure, my role at Hexagon Mining is product manager. My job is to listen to our current clients, and the market in general, and try and figure out what are the big problems people are struggling with, where we can find a technology solution, and then to come up with a way to solve that problem and provide them with something that they can use and that helps their workflow improve and makes their lives better.

BK: I love it. I keep hearing this commonality, which is fantastic, is finding out what the problems are and finding a solution. I mean, that’s what it’s all about.

SG: Yeah, exactly.

BK: I love this. So tell me a little bit about the workflow that typically goes into creating a block model.

SG: Well, the GeoLogic block model is a pretty interesting process. Really, what it is in the end is a culmination of drilling campaigns, geophysical surveys, hydrology studies, equipment studies. Lots and lots of information goes into trying to figure out what the subsurface looks like. And the way that we get that information is usually a geologist or someone looks at the surface, ‘cause that’s all we can see at the very beginning, and try to make some clues, or get some information about what might be located down below the surface. Once they have that information, there’ll be some costly drilling campaigns and those other types of exploration that I mentioned, like the geophysical and hydrological studies.

It’s impossible to look below the surface, so all that information gives the geologists clues about what might be there. And the geologist’s job is to take all that information, all those clues, and put together the best picture of what they think that subsurface looks like.

When they do have that understanding, they also think about the type of mine or the type of deposit that’s gonna be there and the block shape and the block size and how they’re gonna break that deposit into manageable chunks that it can be actually better understood and better mined, eventually.

So it’s a huge undertaking, and although creating a model itself is pretty straight forward, taking into account all the information and all the pieces of data and making sure that everything goes into making the best guess and the best estimate of what that deposit looks like is really the big challenge for creating the block model.

BK: Understood. What sort of feedback have you been getting from mines who are using all of this and, you know, time being saved, other elements? All that.

SG: In the past, clients had spent a lot of time doing this kind of modeling. There was two fundamental challenges that they were seeing. One was that the process itself was kind of slow. It takes a long time to look at all this information and try and come up with the best interpenetration. And in addition to that, if you have many geologists that are just looking at the information and trying to make an interpretation based on qualitative types of analysis, they’re gonna come up with two different answers.

What GeoLogic does, it solves the problem of putting everybody on the same page, because we’re using a mathematical approach and a workflow-based design that lets users, geologists specifically, define the discrete events that happened to create the deposit, and the order that they happened, and when those events actually happened. When geologists can create a scenario of what they think happened and what the best analysis is and they can share that with somebody else, and that other geologist can see exactly what was done, they can reorder the events if they need to tweak things a little bit. But it puts everybody on the same page and also gets the work done fast. Instead of having one or two interpretations of the subsurface, in the same amount of time we can now run many, many more interpretations to just find the best one.

BK: Awesome. That’s great. Why do you think it’s important, in general, for a mine to be equipped with the best possible geological planning solution and all that?

SG: This is a good question because there’s lots of … There are other tools on the market, but we think our solution is the best. It’s important to have your geology be part of a continual, general mine-planning software that gives you an end-to-end solution. And the reason for this is because when there’s so much information that goes into building the model and there’s so many factors that need to be considered and so much data that goes along with that, and if you have multiple formats, for example spreadsheets, or if you’re transferring the information through text files, through emails, that information gets lost or things get broken or you lose some precision on that data, and eventually you wind up with small mistakes that can end up costing large amounts over the long period, without people noticing until it’s almost too late.

So the importance of having a general mine-planning software is it gives us the end-to-end solution. We can take all that information and data and put it in a secure sequel data base so it’s protected and secure, and then users can use that information and document their process through the entire planning stages.

BK: Excellent, excellent. So what makes GeoLogic different?

SG: There are, like I mentioned, some other solutions on the market that provide a similar type of workflow. Our solution is different in a couple ways. One is, as I mentioned, we’re integrated with a general mine-planning software so we have the end-to-end solution. Other packages don’t have that. Some of the other things we have are, we have a new process that we’ve implemented in the tool. We call it Domain Decomposition, and what this allows us to do is to break the geologic interpretation into chunks, and we can run those chunks simultaneously so the end result is we can run things much faster than just running everything at once.

The other thing that’s nice is we’ve been working on these True Thickness tools. This is a feature, a process specifically for the coal industry. Nobody else has something like this, and we’ve been working on it a long time, so we’ve put that into our tool as well.

Also, as I mentioned, we’re integrated with our torque database. That is a source for the information. We can store it securely and then pull it as we need to and use it in the application, either as a subset or as the entire data set.

And the biggest technology is the Implicit Modeling Engine. So although GeoLogic is a new product, we’ve been doing implicit modeling for a very long time, and we’ve been using those same engines. So taking a step back, one of the biggest challenges that our clients asked us to solve was instead of having to use an engine to create individual surfaces, they wanted a tool that could do the entire deposit and could break that geologic story into manageable pieces and then be able to step through those pieces one by one. So we used the technology that we had, that technology was extremely successful, but now it’s even more so. And that’s some of the technology that went into GeoLogic as we have it now.

BK: Nice. So you’re really meeting what your customers need in every way.

SG: Yeah, and the feedback has been really positive. We don’t have a lot of feedback from clients yet because it’s such a new tool. It was just released. But we have done training in our office. One of the training classes we did last week was from some early adopters of the tool, not GeoLogic itself but our predecessor tool, the Implicit Modeling Engine that had that limited functionality. In that case, they said that the Implicit Modeling Engine itself saved 50% of their modeling times, and they expected the similar results with GeoLogic. So they were really excited about the tool and how far we were pushing the limits.

BK: That’s great. I like hearing that feedback. That’s the way it should be. All right, so tell me a little bit about the road map for GeoLogic. What are we looking at over the next one to two years?

SG: Yeah, GeoLogic, we’re looking at incorporating it into a more workflow tool. So being able to do more workflow types of functions. Also, incorporating more fault options. Faulting is something that’s a real challenge. When you’re building a surface, you can imagine it’s challenging, but you can create a surface pretty easily. But once you start trying to make that surface split and shifted and moved around and even cut in some places to make little windows, that’s a little bit tougher. So, we’re working on the faults, we’re also working on that iterative approach. Those are some of the big things we’re looking at in the next couple of years.

BK: Excellent. All right, anything else we should know about as far as this, and get excited for this integration?

SG: Yeah, there is. Just to add my personal comment to the end of this. My favorite thing about the tool is that we didn’t just look at the best technology and the best solution for our clients. We spent a lot of time, in this case, looking at how geologists actually execute their workflow. So sitting down with them and watching them move the mouse across the screen and trying to come up with the best user experience that we could provide. Not just the technology, but also making the menus and the workflow just a lot easier and a lot more client friendly.

That extra time and that extra work has been extremely successful. It’s personally something that’s really gratifying for me to look at, too.

BK: Yeah. That’s fantastic. Just sitting there watching them in person and seeing how they’re doing this and how we can make this better, how we can make it more efficient, it’s fantastic.

SG: Yeah, and the technology is so complex that it can be overwhelming for somebody that’s new and doesn’t have a huge understanding for this. But the way we’ve designed it, anybody with any skill level can come into the tool, it’s very approachable, and they can work from a really simple case to something very, very complex because the options are there, but we’ve made it really simple for any user to come into the tool at any level.

BK: That’s good, and not to mention, everybody’s busy and so you think, “Uh, just one more thing to learn, one more thing to do, do you really have time for that.”

SG: Exactly, exactly it.

BK: And so yeah, it’s a nice, easy onboarding process. That’s great. Love that. Seth, thank you. Really appreciate it. Thanks for your time. Thanks for sharing all this.

SG: Thank you, guys.

BK: You can learn a lot more about this, GeoLogic, over at hexagonmining.com. Check it out and be sure to tune into more episodes of HxGN RADIO. HxGNRADIO.com. And we are also on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Stitcher Radio. Thank you so much for listening.