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Our Stories 11 October 2021

Humans of Bis - Celebrating 20 years with Powertrans

Meet Mark, Electrical Design and Manufacturing QA for our Powertrans division who in 2021 celebrated his 20th anniversary with Bis.


From Buses to Powertrucks

At the dawn of Mark’s professional career, he considered becoming a surveyor. Luckily for Bis, things turned out differently. After years spent working in the bus manufacturing industry and briefly in auto-electrical sales, Mark was presented with an irresistible and life-changing opportunity.

“I was contacted by a previous engineer I had worked with and who was then working on what turned out to be Powertrans’ first Underground Powertruck and Powertrailer. This intrigued me; then when I was offered a job to set up the electrical systems I couldn't join fast enough.”

His first work day on August 1st, 2001, was the beginning of a decades-long career producing vehicles for Powertrans and Brambles (which later became Bis).

“When Bis acquired Powertrans, I was able to stay with the business and keep a small crew of people with me to manufacture and design wiring harnesses. This gave me an insight into Bis and how it operates.”

20 years on, I am still happy with what I do each day. You must always be ready to adapt in this business."

Welcome Challenges

Incidentally, it was the manager Mark had during his first apprenticeship in bus manufacturing who he still recalls as an inspiration.

“He would give me a weekly challenge to work on, designed to challenge the way I thought problems through. This has been a useful tool that I still use today,” Mark says.

Speaking of challenges, Mark’s favourite vehicle to work on was the Powertrans T1250 Prime Mover: "The T1250 was a great challenge to manufacture!"

"The Caterpillar Cab we used had a complex electrical system. To develop a wiring system that incorporated the CAT logic controller with the Powertrans system, we had to work closely with the Caterpillar engineers in Australia and the USA. A real team effort across continents.”

Asked about what he considers the greatest achievement in his career, Mark doesn’t hesitate: “Developing the electrical system in the Dual Powered Road Trains.”

Dual Powered Road Trains, commonly referred to by their abbreviation, DPRTs, are currently deployed at Goldfield Australia’s Granny Smith, WA, goldmine; at Glencore’s nickel and cobalt mine in Murrin Murrin, WA, and its Newlands, QLD, mine.

Originally designed in the early 2000s, Bis’ DPRTs quickly established themselves as important assets in the mining industry.

With higher average operating speeds over unlimited distances, reduced vehicle movements, and payloads of up to 500 tonnes, DPRT deployment resulted in significant improvements to operational productivity and cost efficiencies.


What's in a typical day

Over the years, Mark's role has evolved. Having started in the workshop, he eventually moved into a supervisory role, and later into a role with the engineering group.

What didn’t change was his work ethic which perfectly reflects Bis’ core mantra: Deliver Every Day means meeting targets and being productive.

Nowadays, Mark spends time designing the wiring looms that are used in manufacturing and for reworks; drawing the wiring schematics for fault finding; providing support for the technicians on site; researching the components to be used and incorporated into current engineering projects, then working this into the wiring harnesses that are required.

But while, evidently, the work has sustained Mark’s interest for over two decades – “If you want a rewarding career, this is the industry for you,” he says – it’s important to balance the professional with the personal.

So, when Mark’s not busy designing new electrical systems, he loves reading fantasy fiction novels by Robin Hobb and Raymond E Feist or spending time with his family, including soon to be 11 grandchildren.

Congratulations, Mark!