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What is a Plod?

November 15, 2023

What is a Plod?

Written by
Hannah Malcolm

Background of Mining

Mining has been around for thousands of years and dates back as far as the ancient Egyptians and Romans. Back in those days, it wasn't nearly as advanced as it is now -especially since back then the only thing drilling deeper than their mines was their boredom of digging with just a shovel and pickaxe!

Fast forward to the present time. We are able to (literally) dig deeper with specialised drill rigs. The development of the drill rig was revolutionary, but unaffordable for most miners, and so they said goodbye to the days of owning their own drilling equipment and hello to the age of the Drilling Contractor. The role of the Drilling Contractor was to buy the exorbitantly priced drilling equipment and rent them out to mining companies.

But with the new advanced equipment came more advanced processes and so, the plod was born. 

So what is a plod?

A plod, short for ‘Progressive Log of Drilling’, is a form used to record the time, activities, consumables, people and costs associated with drilling in a single shift of work. It is an informal (although commonly used) Australian term that originated in the oil and gas industry, but is now used and understood across the continent.

At the end of a shift, the data captured on a plod is typically transferred either to a spreadsheet or some other specialised digital platform in order for the drilling performance to be monitored and analysed. The analysis of the data drives  strategic decision-making in order to drill more efficiently to reduce costs and keep everything on track.

History of the plod 

These days, the mining process is much more strategic and rigorous than it used to be and plods are still a crucial part of the process. However, considering how much the mining process has advanced, plods really have not come that far since they first came into play. They started out as handwritten pieces of paper and are primarily still just handwritten pieces of paper… 

Within the last decade or so, an alternative has become available. The option of using digital plods is now possible, although only being used by a small fraction of the industry. 

What else are plods known as?

  • Drill Log
  • Daily Drilling Report
  • Daily Activity Report
  • Drilling Time Report
  • Daily Shift Report
  • Daily Shift Plan
  • Drilling Timesheet
  • Drilling Progress Report

Limitations of the paper plod 

The paper plod has been a staple in the mining industry for decades, but it comes with several limitations that affect its efficiency and accuracy. 

Firstly, the hand-written format can result in illegible writing, making it time-consuming for whoever has to enter the data into a digital platform.

Human error is another limitation, as the manual input process increases the likelihood of mistakes such as incorrect dates, interval stats, and item codes. This leads to double handling of data, which wastes time and resources.

Using Excel to manage data is also a challenge, as only a small minority of people are efficient at using the program. This leads to frustration, formula-googling, and limited collaboration, and everyone tends to have separate versions of the same spreadsheet that don't align.

Storing the physical plods is also a security issue, as they need to be stored somewhere, whether it be scanned and saved digitally, or filed away in a cardboard folder. This also adds to the costs, both physical and intangible, of money lost due to time delays in receiving and digitising data.

The paper plod was a good start in streamlining the mining process, but we’ve come so far since then that it’s simply not the best solution anymore. The limitations of paper plods add up quickly, leading to a delay in data analysis which can have a detrimental effect on project operations. The time spent digitising data, filing papers, and correcting mistakes takes away valuable time that could be spent making strategic decisions. 

Why digital plods are increasing in popularity - and are a necessity 

  • Real-time: data is received as soon as it is submitted and automatically transferred into a digital platform so it can instantly be analysed without any delays. 
  • Data silos and ‘anywhere access’: because the data is all stored in the cloud, it can be accessed anywhere by anyone on the team.
  • Safety and storage: there is very minimal risk of data insecurity as digital plods are stored on the cloud and are encrypted to ensure maximum security, even from cyber thieves!
  • Economics and ESGs: a company with 3-4 rigs typically spends $10k annually on plod books alone! That’s a lot of money (and paper) wasted… additionally, poor project planning by means of inefficiency (usually through oblivious human error) can have a significant environmental impact.
  • Third-party modelling integrations: the seamless integration with third-party platforms requires little to no effort (unlike manual modelling). 
  • Scalable: easily scalable and adaptable as your business grows. This means fewer organisational issues or disruptions to operations along the way. 
  • Automation: helps with the planning, monitoring, forecasting and accuracy of data.

Future forecast 

Automation, AI and technological advancement is evolving at a rapid rate. We’re predicting that within the next ten or so years, there will likely be a point in time when plods become redundant because the machinery will be able to automatically record the relevant information itself. BUT by no means should this discourage companies from investing in digitising their businesses now. 

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