“Some people refer to the pandemic of 2020 as a Black Swan event but most experts say it was not,” said Ash Bosworth, managing director and CEO of Pulse. “What coronavirus taught the mining industry in 2020 is the need for readiness in responding to rapidly-changing conditions; accepting disruption as the new business-as-usual. Users of the Pulse system were able to transition seamlessly to offsite management and administration if needed during COVID-19 lockdowns, without any loss of productivity or efficiency in business systems whatsoever. “
“A number of companies in Australia and elsewhere that were considering a switch to Pulse earlier in 2020 got caught short by COVID-19 and went into temporary shutdowns. Some that might have been able to continue on-field resource extraction couldn’t function as a business without office staff working onsite. Handling paperwork, in itself, became high-risk.”
“Suddenly, the Pulse concept of digital transformation became not just desirable but a business imperative. The pandemic situation illustrated everything I’d been saying on-stage at IMARC over the preceding years, without further question,” he said.
The greatest shift towards digital business technology in the entire history of mining
“Needless to say, companies that had been looking into Pulse, prior to being hit by the pandemic, eventually regrouped and re-engaged with us to discuss their digital transformation plans for 2021.”
“The closing months of 2020 were tremendously busy for our people, with system demonstrations going on almost every day to companies in Australia, Asia, UK, and North America. In 2021, we will see the greatest shift towards digital technology – with business process automation and real-time IIoT/B2B interactivity – in the entire history of the mining industry.”
Throughout the darkest days of the global pandemic, Pulse was able to continue with implementations for new customers like Malabar Coal. Their new Pulse Mining ERP system went live on 1 July 2020, precisely as scheduled, no matter that the generalized business disruptions from COVID-19 were still at their peak.
Pulse future-proofing allows pivoting between mining and green energy production
“Pulse was always known as the system of choice in the coal sector, and now the smarter start-ups and reboots like Malabar want to go fully-digital from Day One,” Ash said. “What surprised us through Malabar, however, was the decision to diversify into solar energy production on the same site as coal mining operations. Pulse was able to demonstrate how easily the system can manage the extreme diversity in resource types and venture structures that we often see now in mining. Our system is future-proofed no matter what direction is taken by the business.”
By IMARC 2019, Pulse had started strengthening its relationship with government officials in the major mining provinces of Canada, with help from Austrade, ready for participation at conferences in North America such as Conexpo 2020, which was to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the Saskatchewan Mining Supply Chain Forum. Ash Bosworth had spent the entire month of January 2020 on-the-ground in Canada and preparing to shuttle between continents before travel was curtailed and planned gatherings were suddenly canceled or virtualized.
Pause on international travel no roadblock to new Canadian gold mining client
Prior to the pandemic, Pulse Analytics was shortlisted in the global search by a mid-tier gold mining company, headquartered in Canada, for the world’s most powerful and robust mine management reporting system (ie: Pulse-developed BI dashboards for mining).
“Talks were postponed at the point where we would normally have flown over to Canada. But as soon as the lights went back on for Canadian industries, product evaluations resumed and we were thrilled when Pulse Analytics was finally selected. The distance between Australia and Canada is a non-issue for remote implementation with 24/7 support from a central location. This was just one of our surprise signings in this unusual year,” Ash said. “Pulse enters 2021 with deep engagement in mining ERP evaluations by other companies based in Canada, as well as Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia, with operational interests in gold, nickel, granite, sand, and other resources.
Declared best in the world for mining compared to leading generic ERP systems
“One international business systems consultant, from the UK, recently went through the entire Pulse system with a microscope, even talking to some of our most long-standing customers directly to hear uncensored feedback. The fully-integrated Pulse Mining ERP suite of solutions was being compared to a leading generic ERP with various add-ons. In closing, Pulse was declared not only best-of-breed on the planet for mining and quarrying business applications but much more affordable than other offerings,” Ash said.
“We’ve got a strong reputation in the Australian mining industry after more than 30 years of service but when industry experts with international influence start recognizing Australian-developed technology as the world’s finest, it’s satisfying indeed.”
System enhancements for 2020-2021 continue making people’s jobs easier
“As a company, Pulse exists to make people’s jobs easier. Our ethos depends on listening to our users, from upper management to frontline workers, and being able to meet their day-to-day, real-world needs. This is what sets us apart from the behemoth ERP providers. With Pulse, as an industry-specific system, it’s all about ‘you’.”
Fully-integrated operational resource Planning and execution tool is a game-changer
“The Pulse Planning submodule, as a companion to our Operations suite, has been a total game-changer for many of our users this year,” Ash continued. “Managers have the ability to plan projects with the failsafe allocation of equipment, parts, time, and human resources. Changing plans with complex interdependencies is as simple as drag-and-drop, Gantt/Microsoft Project-style. Plans are executed by sending the validated data into the live system, updating all associated records at once.”
Fully-integrated Budgeting (with native Microsoft Excel) gets finance teams… ‘excited’
“Another popular tool we delivered in 2020 is Pulse Budgeting. We developed this companion module for Pulse Financials in close collaboration between our own CPAs on the development team and real-world mining company CFOs and finance team leaders,” Ash said.
“It’s a great example of our dedication to making people’s jobs easier. We can all crack jokes around the barbeque about accountants being boring but in mining, there is no more important nor more rigorous role. We liberated finance teams from the tedium of forecasting and re-forecasting. With Pulse, they can draw actuals from within the system, work on figures in Microsoft Excel without leaving the system, and update budgets without importing. Our Microsoft Gold Partner status allowed us to achieve seamless in-system Microsoft Excel integration.”
“We also provided finance teams with the ability to delegate budgeting to people in areas of responsibility within the business, and to have these departmental budgets easily rolled-up into the overall budget. Budgeting delivers everything that finance teams wanted, and with automatic notifications and multi-hierarchical approval options, there’s no need for them to chase anyone.”
Turbocharging productivity for Pulse users at all levels in the organization
“Releasing new submodules and tools grabs most of our headlines from year to year but we’ve quietly continued turbocharging productivity for users at all levels in the organization. We’ve been rolling out new high-productivity screens as submodule homepages,” Ash said. “Depending on a person’s role, preferences, and access authorization, their homepage draws the latest information from inside the system and presents it to them, so they don’t have to go looking for anything.”
“An example of this is what Pulse does for unsung heroes working in Accounts Payable. They arrive on their homepage in the system to instant situational awareness. Everything they need to know immediately is right there: actionable to-do lists; all vendors with oldest invoices not yet paid. Nothing can slide underneath the radar with Pulse keeping tasks prioritized and continually updated.”
Reducing downtime and cutting costs throughout the business
The two videos (short and full-length) shot for Pulse onsite at Centennial Coal, showcasing the long-established miner’s massive productivity gains made ‘overnight’ through the deployment of Pulse Analytics, have together been watched more than 1,000 times on YouTube.
“It was a major investment for us to produce a video at a high-security mining site, complete with overhead drone footage. It was worth it when we saw how many people in the industry wanted to find out more about what real-time analytics could do for business performance.”
“The Centennial video focuses on the integration of machine data with ERP data but again, the less headline-grabbing features of Pulse Analytics are just as compelling, depending on what area of the business concerns each manager. Being able to quickly identify the most slow-moving maintenance parts is a breakthrough for managers responsible for inventory. We have inventory optimization tools that help to reduce the costs of stock-on-hand, and this assists the people responsible for overall finances.”
Business process outsourcing to help any business scale and run leaner
“Something new that not all of our clients would be aware of just yet is that Pulse now offers outsourced business services,” Ash said. “This is in direct response to some companies needing to scale-up administration capacity temporarily, such as during a phase of expansion, and others needing to grow without increasing back-office overheads, for whatever reason.”
“These service offerings were not designed to challenge anyone incumbent in any employed position but they’re available if the business wants to look into outsourcing. We’re currently handling functions like payroll processing and accounts payable for a small number of clients.”
“We’ve even got highly experienced maintenance engineers and planners that can come out to sites, where possible, to help with best-practice maintenance, budgeting, and planning. They can run a complete audit of how the system is being used in-office and on-field, to find savings and optimize everything. We can also work closely with consultants on the client-side, wherever they’re engaged, and this often happens with major business transition projects, which could be anywhere in the world.”
“Ultimately, it’s the duty of everyone involved with a business to work as a team in support of the business to successfully achieve its objectives. Simple.”
From interviews with Ash Bosworth on Thursday 10 and Friday 11 December 2020.
Is the COVID-19 pandemic a Black Swan event? Not quite. Here’s why…
In the 2001 book Fooled By Randomness, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the first of three ‘Black Swan’ attributes asserted by Taleb is that the event “…is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility.” Given that pandemics have spread from different locations at varied intervals throughout history via human travel, the occurrence of a global pandemic in 2020 should not have been outside the realm of regular expectations, and the past does convincingly point to its possibility.
It is said that the practical aim of Taleb’s book is not to improve the predictability of unpredictable events but to build robustness against negative events. To this same aim, Pulse is the mining company’s fortress on which to rely in managing the certainty of uncertainty.
Image of black swan credit: fir0002flagstaffotos [at] gmail.com – Canon 20D + Canon 400mm f/5.6 L – Own work, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7631884.