Collaborating Across the Enterprise to Drive Business Growth

By Michael C. Crews, EVP & CFO, Peabody Energy

Michael C. Crews, EVP & CFO, Peabody Energy

Technology Taking a Key Position

Technology is central to modern coal mining and vital to all aspects of planning, operations, development and ultimately value creation.

A few examples: In recent years, new mining technologies have playeda key role in maximizing productivity and managing our operational costs. We employ sophisticated monitoring systems that gather data on equipment productivity at our operations down to the finest detail. This data is then integrated into a Business Intelligence Reporting Tools platform that is used to drive efficiencies.

"Look around corners and plan for the next upswing as well, to ensure that we can capitalize on the opportunities from evolving supply demand fundamentals"

As a company, Peabody is over 90 percent virtualized, providing us with more reliable technology, at a lower cost and with higher availability than ever before. This presents enormous added value for a global mining company with operations that run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The Role of Technology in Reducing Cost

At Peabody, technology plays an integral role in ensuring that unexpected costs are minimized. We run a oneview, one-source Integrated Planning platform that aggregates cost, revenue, capital and life of mine data and tracks our budget, actual costs and generates forecast. Financial discussions are driven by reporting that is generated from this platform and it is a vital tool for our business.

Over the last 18 months, we have seen some market headwinds that resulted in cost containment becoming a primary objective for Peabody at every level of the organization. In 2013, we significantly reduced costs, lowered capital spending and maximized cash flow, enabling us to continue with our deleveraging plan. The success of these improvements helped to partially offset the effects of challenging markets and we saw an outstanding whole-of business response.

At the same time, it’s our job to be able to look around corners and plan for the next upswing as well, to ensure that we can capitalize on the opportunities from evolving supply demand fundamentals.

CFOs Role in Driving Better Business Results

Peabody is a global business and the finance group is constantly challenged to take a global view of the issues that might have an impact on our performance.

I am pleased to see the number of finance personnel who have moved on to succeed throughout the rest of the organization. They learned the language of business as well as the systems and processes that are important, and utilize them in multiple ways both within our group and elsewhere across the platform.

At its best, finance can make a host of other business processes and decision making better. It’s our job to ensure that we are collaborating across the enterprise to strengthen capital allocation, business development opportunities, cost-reduction initiatives, a hearty returns orientation, planning, systems and ultimately results.