WorkingMouse and MEC Mining Rock the Unearthed Hackathon


A hackathon is a week­end where pro­gram­mers, do­main ex­perts, de­sign­ers and prob­lem own­ers col­lab­o­rate to cre­ate a pro­to­type and pitch an idea. This is­n’t a tech rev­o­lu­tion, how­ever it’s re­ally great ex­pe­ri­ence. Over the past week­end, WorkingMouse and MEC Mining teamed up and rocked the Unearthed Hackathon. The event was held at River City Labs in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.

The prob­lems for the hackathon were posted by Newcrest and BHP Coal. The two Newcrest prob­lems were rock frag­men­ta­tion of block caves and pre­dic­tive main­te­nance on cy­clone pumps. The two BHP prob­lems were the recog­ni­tion of geo­phys­i­cal logs and the sup­ply chain cus­tody of sam­ples.

Over the week­end, our team - fondly named WorkingMine - ended up work­ing on the ‘sup­ply chain cus­tody of sam­ples’ prob­lem. The prob­lem was that sam­ples were be­ing lost or mov­ing slowly through the cus­tody chain. On the sur­face one might as­sume that the prob­lem has been solved by Australia Post and other courier ser­vices, but the unique prob­lem in min­ing is that the sam­ples go off due to ox­i­di­s­a­tion which can be ac­cel­er­ated by tem­per­a­ture and more frag­men­ta­tion. This makes it im­por­tant to not only to be able to lo­cate the sam­ple, but to be able to mon­i­tor it and al­low the labs to up­load re­sults to min­imise hu­man er­ror and ad­min­is­tra­tion over­head.

The plan was to ge­olo­cate each sam­ple and then re­port this and other met­rics. For our team’s live demo we built a GPS-enabled elec­tron­ics de­vice to send lo­ca­tions to a de­vel­oper API. (A clas­sic ex­am­ple of the pos­si­bil­i­ties emerg­ing with the Internet of Things rev­o­lu­tion). We had the lo­ca­tion dis­played in real-time on a map by mim­ic­k­ing a truck dri­ving down the East Coast of Queensland. The au­di­ence then got to watch the pins ap­pear on the map as the truck moved. We ge­ofenced a fa­cil­ity and as the truck en­tered this, a push no­ti­fi­ca­tion was sent to a mo­bile that was placed on the judge’s desk, alert­ing them of the sam­ples lo­ca­tion. They could then click on the pin to find out more in­for­ma­tion about the sam­ple.

This was a very cool demo and I may be a lit­tle bi­ased, but our demo was pos­si­bly the most ad­vanced of the evening. So how did we achieve so much in a short amount of time? The an­swer is our low-code plat­form for rapid ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­op­ment. In the rest of this post we are go­ing to dive deep into the week­end. Not to spoil some of the fun, but within half an hour of start­ing on Saturday morn­ing we al­ready had over 90,000 lines of code com­pleted! This is all thanks to ef­fi­cient use of APIs and, of course, our Innovation Platform.

Friday Night - Day 1

Friday night was all plan­ning (and a cou­ple of beers). We had the op­por­tu­nity to talk with the prob­lem own­ers and men­tors about the prob­lems in depth. Two prob­lems stood out for us. Plan A was - pre­dic­tive main­te­nance on cy­clone pumps from Newcrest - and Plan B was - sup­ply chain cus­tody of sam­ples from BHP Coal. Here is a photo of our con­cep­tual maps.

We re­alised very quickly that Plan A hinged on the data set and how well we could pre­dict the pump fail­ures. So, af­ter un­der­stand­ing the data set and us­ing some ma­chine learn­ing al­go­rithms - specif­i­cally we used a ran­dom for­est re­gres­sion as it seemed a good fit - we could only pre­dict within a 15 day range and the prob­lem owner wanted a larger range. Given the time re­straints of the week­end, we piv­oted and changed to Plan B, the sup­ply chain cus­tody of sam­ples.

handwritten mindmap of our MEC hackathon plan

Saturday - Day 2

Day 2 started with a great break­fast sup­plied by RIIT, in fact, the whole week­end was catered and the food was spot on. After re-con­firm­ing the plan we all got to work. One of the first tasks when build­ing on our Innovation Platform is to start with the plug-in model. Building the plug-in model is like build­ing a data­base schema. Some of the en­ti­ties we in­cluded were Sample, Batch, Drill Hole, Seam, Site, Facility, Geopoint, Geofence, etc and all their re­la­tion­ships.

The next step is one of the most sat­is­fy­ing for us. It’s time for the ro­bots and code gen­er­a­tors to do their job. After click­ing the big red but­ton - 762 files and 92384 lines of code were cre­ated (see screen­shots be­low). That’s a huge sav­ing as tra­di­tion­ally we would have had to hand code every­thing from scratch.

“That’s amaz­ing! I did­n’t think that was even pos­si­ble.” Tim Cooper - Senior Mining Consultant

old workingmouse logo in rainbow code

With the ap­pli­ca­tion now well un­der­way, it was time to look at the user in­ter­face. This is ar­guably the most im­por­tant part of any ap­pli­ca­tion. A great user ex­pe­ri­ence (UX) can make or break the deal. So, we started by ex­am­in­ing the re­quire­ments and iden­ti­fied that the fol­low­ing ques­tions are the most im­por­tant to an­swer:

  • Where is the sam­ple now?
  • When is a sam­ple go­ing to ex­pire?
  • Can I re­ceive an alert about a sam­ple for cer­tain con­di­tions?
  • How many sam­ples have been lost?

The other ma­jor part of the ap­pli­ca­tion is the elec­tronic de­vice that will be at­tached to each dis­patch of sam­ples. So, as a pro­to­type we de­cided to use an Arduino de­vice with WIFI and GPS. The plan is to use the de­vice to send its GPS lo­ca­tion at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals over a net­work. The ob­vi­ous flaw is that such a de­vice will not have WIFI ac­cess when it is en­route. But there is a vi­able op­tion that will be dis­cussed in our busi­ness case on day 3, so we are happy to use this as a pro­to­type.

Sunday - Day 3

Day 3 is demo day so it was time to push on. We had some UI wire­frames from the day be­fore but these needed to be fi­nalised into the code. The MVP was split into 2 main func­tional ar­eas: dash­board and map. The dash­board was de­signed to an­swer those im­por­tant ques­tions like; how many sam­ples are ap­proach­ing ox­i­di­s­a­tion? The map al­lows users to see the lo­ca­tion of all their sam­ples and to look at the sam­ples in a fa­cil­ity.

dashboard screenshot showing results from hackathon

results screenshot from MEC hackathon

The af­ter­noon went well and we fin­ished our tech­ni­cal demo with­out an hour to spare. It was quite a com­plex demo be­cause we had four dif­fer­ent sys­tems. Firstly, we had the Arduino elec­tronic de­vice send­ing GPS lo­ca­tions. We had a server re­ceiv­ing via a de­vel­oper API. We had the browser show­ing the map and the pins ap­pear­ing in real-time as the truck drove down the east coast of Queensland and ar­rived at a fa­cil­ity that was ge­ofenced. We had a mo­bile-app on an Android phone that re­ceived a push no­ti­fi­ca­tion and also had a map whereby the user could in­ter­act with the sam­ples and pins (as seen above).


We had a fun week­end and it was fan­tas­tic to work with the team from MEC Mining. Well done to our team in­clud­ing Tim Cooper, Jamie Jongebloed, Leo Mylonas, Isaac Joekong, Samuel Windall and my­self. Overall it was a very pro­fes­sional and pol­ished per­for­mance.

We’d also like to of­fer a huge thanks to the or­gan­is­ers for the week­end! Unearthed is run by RIIT, a com­pany who re­alise that the re­sources in­dus­try cur­rently con­tributes 9% of Australia’s GDP and 48% of Australia’s ex­ports. However, both de­creas­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity and a soft­en­ing de­mand threaten this con­tri­bu­tion. RIIT be­lieve that a sus­tain­able tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion ecosys­tem will im­prove the com­pet­i­tive­ness of the Australian re­sources in­dus­try and drive sub­stan­tial growth in the econ­omy as a whole. Unearthed is one of a num­ber of ini­tia­tives they have con­tribut­ing to the fu­ture of the min­ing ecosys­tem. Smart-cities and agri­cul­ture are here, and so is smart min­ing. The Internet of Things and other tech rev­o­lu­tions are go­ing to be dri­ving change for years to come. For more like this, check out WorkingMouse’s hackathon his­tory.

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David Burkett

Growth en­thu­si­ast and res­i­dent pom

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