Marco Bignami, Geological Database Administrator at maxgeo, has been involved in LogChief installations for the last eight years. In that time he has completed a range of projects for clients across Africa, Australia and the Americas.
Moving from his native Italy to Australia, Marco had to be comfortable thinking in two languages. Later, when he made the transition from fieldwork to database development and management, he experienced a similar linguistic shift.
“The data management process is like two countries speaking two different languages,” he says. “Geologists usually don’t know much about coding or SQL, and most software developers don’t know much about geology. My job is to be the translator, the go-between.”
“I was originally hired to build a coal model,” he says. “Since then, my trajectory has been about learning enough to be dangerous when talking about data. That’s allowed me to talk to clients in two ways: I speak geological language, of course, but I also speak development language, which means that I know the core capabilities of the software and the ways in which it can be configured.”
The unique configuration capabilities of LogChief are what set it apart from common software alternatives. Marco sits with clients and discusses their requirements, which he then writes into scoping documents for the developers to implement. In essence, LogChief, a leader in logging products is a data capture tool, but the addition of validation functionality within the maxgeo Data Schema (MDS) makes it very powerful when adapted to project-specific needs.
“Imagine I’m an exploration company,” says Marco. “I go out and explore, drill holes, do 5 million dollars of feasibility studies. If I keep that information on paper or a USB drive and lose it, I’ve lost 5 million dollars. If it’s in Excel or another spreadsheet program, it’s prone to user error – people use different codes (some may writer GRN for granite, some will write GN), and the data will be lost or compromised.”
With LogChief, there is only one way to input and validate data, which is synchronised with the database via integrated functionality. Even in remote places where the data can’t be synchronised until later, the data maintains its integrity. The validation criteria are the key point of difference.
“There are other advantages, too,” Marco adds. “There’s flexibility – we talk to the client and say ‘tell us how you log’. We then take only the needed tables and reduce the excess fields to ensure greater accuracy. If a different project is started, we’ll adapt. We can modify the main database, add the new alterations and rebuild the configuration.”
The LogChief base configuration can be modified in many ways. Other standout functions include colour-coded conditional formatting, which can automatically flag drilling anomalies. The key point is the customisation, done in direct response to the needs and workflows of the project at hand. Establishing requirements and working these into the configuration is no problem with a skilled translator like Marco on board.
There have been situations when even an experienced language expert like Marco has been stumped, though.
“When I first came to Australia and started working out on site,” he recalls, “I couldn’t understand a word of what the Aussies were saying. I wasn’t used to the accent! As time went by, I picked up their way of speaking, but then I moved to working in an office and realised that half of the new words I’d learnt were absolutely not appropriate for a professional setting,” he laughs. “It’s all part of the learning process.”