Highlights

Jing Du and her team use data to identify and solve problems

Rio Tinto set up Data Intelligence & Insights in 2016 as part of the Growth and Innovation group

The team has already developed a system to optimise plant and truck utilisation

Real-life business challenges can be too complex for people to find an optimal solution. So analytics, or analysis of data, helps the business to make more informed decisions, and a decision based on facts is less biased.

Jing Du, Rio Tinto Data Intelligence & Insights

Jing Du in Rio Tinto's Data Intelligence & Insights (DI&I) team loves anything that requires problem solving – like jigsaw puzzles, or playing strategy games online with friends. And that passion extends to her work in managing data analytics projects.

Jing works as a data analytics project lead in our Singapore office where she and her colleagues help Rio Tinto teams to make more sense of facts or information, enabling them to make better decisions.

"Real-life business challenges can be too complex for people to find an optimal solution. So analytics, or analysis of data, helps the business to make more informed decisions, and a decision based on facts is less biased," she said.

"My team collaborates closely with Rio Tinto businesses to help identify opportunities, address challenges and provide solutions or recommendations.

"What I enjoy most about my work is brainstorming and looking at how we approach a business problem.

"It's like playing a jigsaw puzzle – tackling the problem piece by piece."

The magic of data science

DI&I was set up in late 2016, as part of the company’s Growth & Innovation group, to understand how we leverage the value of the data within Rio Tinto as we strive to make US$5 billion of productivity gains. Data analytics is an exciting field and you can find it just about anywhere.

The DI&I team focuses on two key areas: how we use data to help make improved decisions; and enabling and harnessing the capability in data analytics across the Group.

Jing believes that data science is magical.

“You have millions of terabytes of data streaming in every minute,” she said.

“Human brains simply don’t have the capacity to process so much information efficiently in one go.

“Data analytics opens the door for you to smartly process data and draw actionable insights sustainably that can improve our businesses and create more value.”


Meet Jing Du

Meet Jing Du

Jing Du joined Rio Tinto as a graduate in 2015, with a double major in business administration and maritime studies, and immediately became fascinated by the scope of work of Rio Tinto's data analytics team.

Jing Du joined Rio Tinto as a graduate in 2015, with a double major in business administration and maritime studies, and immediately became fascinated by the scope of work of Rio Tinto's data analytics team.

Jing's days are spent modelling solutions or managing data analytics projects, dotted with presentations and following up with business users. But a really good day for Jing is a day of teamwork to successfully deliver a complex data analytics solution to improve our businesses.

"I'm proud to be a part of Data Insights & Intelligence because I have a clear vision of how our team adds value to businesses and plays a pivotal role in the era of 'big and fast' data," said Jing.

"The work we do is fulfilling and allows us to have plenty of opportunities to understand and help different business units.

"And I'm proud of Rio Tinto because our company's values resonate with me. It provides us with a great platform with many opportunities. All you need to do is be courageous and curious and take initiative!"

Delivering solutions

Jing and her team are already using their data insights work to deliver productivity and commercial gains to businesses across Rio Tinto.

Jing was involved in a small cross-functional team that developed a system to optimise plant and truck utilisation at Iron Ore's Hope Downs 1 mine in Western Australia in just two weeks.

The team rose to the challenge of automating elements of the interface between the ore crusher and haul truck. They created a system that analyses real-time data captured at the crusher, such as bin levels and run-rate, and overlaid real-time truck data such as location and payload.

As a result, the crusher can "speak" to the trucks and let them know when it needs material or, alternatively, when the truck can be re-directed to the stockpile. It means the equipment can always be utilised at an optimum level, helping to extend its life, minimise downtime, and reduce energy and other operating costs.

The work has the potential to increase material through crushers at all manned sites in the Pilbara by more than 1 million tonnes a year, not to mention the potential in other product groups.

"The challenge was to create a working prototype that would be able to operate sustainably at Hope Downs 1 with the view to rapidly replicate across all Pilbara mine sites," said Michelle Radley, manager, Technology Integration, Studies & Technology, Iron Ore.

"The team successfully achieved their aim, which was a great result given the time available.

"The prototype showed the ability for the crusher to call for trucks, which will lead to an increase in production throughput. 

"Since the sprint work, we have worked with Modular, a mining software company, to develop a sustainable solution. This is now in place and operating well at Hope Downs 1 and we are in the process of rolling it out to all of the other manned sites in the Pilbara." 

Jing also led a team of interns from a local university in Singapore to help optimise bunkering activities for Rio Tinto Marine and Rio Tinto Procurement. For their work, the team received one of the company's "Ground breaker" employee recognition awards from chief executive J-S Jacques.

Currently she's working with the Aluminium and Information Services & Technology groups to optimise pricing by analysing smelter data and with the Copper & Diamonds and Commercial Excellence teams to ensure Rio Tinto gets the best prices for copper concentrate.

Jing says tangible data-driven solutions like these inspire her to come to work every day.

"I know with certainty that what I do each day is contributing to the improvement of the businesses, be it in productivity or commercially or for other support functions in the Group," she said.