The CoalFace | August 2023
Tell us about the business.
I’m Michael Charge, Electrical Coordinator and Project Manager at Bis. Bis has one of Australia’s largest specialised and inventive underground hire fleets. A fully equipped tyre and pare parts division and the comfort of a field services team provide the essential support our customers rely on.
How long have you been doing business?
Bis started way back in 1915 with a haulage contract for BHP. Our Underground Division, now based in Tomago, has supplied heavy machinery to UG Coal Mines for production, run of mine and longwall relocation since 1997, so we’ve got plenty of experience and runs on the board which is essential support our customers rely on.
How many people work for the business?
We have around 500 people working for Bis in Underground Services across our workshops, in field services and in the majority of underground coal mines throughout NSW and QLD. All up, Bis currently have 1300 employees.
Describe a typical day at "The Office"
For me, it’s get caffeinated, check emails from overnight and respond to any urgent customer enquiries. Then a walk around the workshop to monitor progress of our machine overhauls. Then maybe a site visit, a meeting with customers or talking to a new supplier. It’s varied and always interesting.
What’s the best thing about the business?
The best thing is the atmosphere. It’s a great team of people, from management to the shop floor. it enjoyable to come to work for Bis when you know you’re all in it together to achieve a common goal.
The worst thing?
It would have to be the traffic out of Tomago of an afternoon, anyone working in the lower Hunter can attest to this!
What are the biggest challenges facing your business?
Extended lead times for critical components, although this is not unique to Bis; it’s across the entire industry and world. I saw a memorable quote recently: “The whole world is short staffed, be kind to the ones who showed up to work”.
What is the biggest opportunity for your business right now?
We’ve commenced a very strong strategy to further support our customers by increasing our fleet, integration of data monitoring and even electrification of vehicles. All these things, allow us to better service our fleet ato continue to deliver a reliable and sustainable service to our customers.
What is the business most proud of?
We are very proud of holding the largest diesel fleet in the Underground Coal Mining space and the ability it provides us to be a supplier of choice to our valued customers.
Community or other causes close to its heart and values?
The Underground Coal Services division is a strong supporter of the Base-to-Base Challenge here in Newcastle, which raises vital funds for the Westpac Rescue. Each October a team of our employees commits to walking 1,386 kilometers during the month. The very specific distance represents the route the Westpac Rescue Helicopter travels between its four bases across the region. The Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service supports over 1.5 million people each year.
Any funny or heartwarming stories to share?
Hearing members of the team saying they wouldn’t leave, because the people they work with are their mates. For me, that’s a sustainable and rewarding work environment.
Any employees that deserve a shout out?
I’d like to shout out to Craig McGrath in our Electrical Services Division for his dedication to building a team, from zero to a fully functional AS3800 Overhaul Facility within 6 months. The professionalism and dedication from all the electrical team is outstanding, the growth plan is great, and they continue to live up to the Bis motto, Deliver Every Day.