Vi­tal sup­port

One of the small­est parts sup­pli­ers in the in­dus­try may be one of the most sig­nif­i­cant, writes Ian Porter

ABC (Australia) - - PARTS & ACCESSORIES -

It may be one of the small­est sup­pli­ers in the bus in­dus­try, but hun­dreds of op­er­a­tors around the coun­try would have dif culty meet­ing their statu­tory re­quire­ments if Bus Parts Plus was not here to sup­port them.

Ev­ery day its staff of two des­patch vi­tal sup­plies to op­er­a­tors as far away as Dar­win, and as close as Sy­den­ham, from their parts-cave in Mel­bourne’s west.

“It’s a busi­ness that can pretty much be run over a web­site,” says John Louder, a branch man­ager in Vic­to­ria for CMV Truck and Bus. CMV houses and man­ages Bus Parts Plus on be­half of its owner, the Bus As­so­ci­a­tion of Vic­to­ria (BusVic).

Bus Parts Plus (BPP) dates back a fair while to when the Vic­to­rian bus in­dus­try was com­prised largely of small eets, be­fore con­sol­i­da­tion got go­ing.

As a ser­vice to mem­bers, BusVic took on cer­tain roles which, while they had a com­mer­cial el­e­ment, were more about mak­ing life eas­ier for the mem­ber­ship.

Buy­ing a bus may have been rel­a­tively easy, but tting it out so that it met an ever-in­creas­ing num­ber of State Gov­ern­men­tal reg­u­la­tions – whether it be for school bus, char­ter bus or coach op­er­a­tions – is another mat­ter.

Where did you get stick­ers say­ing ‘exit win­dow here’, or a sign say­ing ‘ keep clear when bus is in mo­tion’, or han­dles for the com­pul­sory safety win­dow?

You got them from BPP. But that’s not all. BPP also de­vel­oped a rev­enue stream by sup­ply­ing parts for older buses that were out of pro­duc­tion.

“We sell to bus com­pa­nies all over Australia. Busi­nesses ev­ery­where can go to the web­site and see a switch for an Aus­tral or a Den­ning or a PMC or a Vol­gren, and say ‘ we want that switch and we want that sticker’,” Louder says.

“Our guys are spe­cial­ists in that eld, where they can source all these lit­tle bits and pieces that go along with buses.”

Those guys are man­ager Shane Sam­mut and parts in­ter­preter Ben Cocks. What they don’t know about the reg­u­la­tions in each state isn’t worth know­ing.

“These two guys are hands on and know busses back to front,” Louder says. And it can get com­pli­cated.

“All the states have dif­fer­ent reg­u­la­tions, which is a real prob­lem for the in­dus­try. But through BPP, they can sup­ply all your reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments, stick­ers, what­ever, for any state,” he says.

“For ex­am­ple, when you get a brand new bus, or when you buy a bus from in­ter­state, you may have to change the stick­ers to suit the lo­cal reg­u­la­tions.

“BPP spe­cialises in all the reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments like ash­ing school bus lights and can give ad­vice on what’s re­quired to suit each state.”

Sam­mut says the com­pany’s stock lines have risen from around 1000 to more than 1500 in the last few years.

“We’re not just Vic­to­ria,” Sam­mut says. “There’s a not a day when we don’t send some­thing in­ter­state. We’ve sent toi­lets to Alice Springs be­cause they need the bus the next day and haven’t got a toi­let. We cater for all sorts.”

Sam­mut and Cocks pride them­selves on be­ing able to help with any re­quest.

“We al­ways try to help them out or point them in the right di­rec­tion,” Sam­mut says. “We try never to leave them with noth­ing. We al­ways try and help them with some­thing.”

The key is to un­der­stand the dif­fer­ing reg­u­la­tions in each state. It could be­come a mine eld if the dif­fer­ences are not well un­der­stood.

“The boys have to be con­scious if the op­er­a­tor is ring­ing from New South Wales (NSW) or Queens­land or Vic­to­ria as to what stick­ers are re­quired,” Louder says.

“They have to be knowl­edge­able about what re­quire­ments are where, in which state, be­cause they dif­fer rights across Australia.

“School bus light kits are a good ex­am­ple. If some­one rings from New South Wales you have to work it out. For them it’s no dif­fer­ent, but for us it is.”

Louder says NSW is the only state that has wig-wag lights on their school buses.

All the rest of the states in Australia say that the only peo­ple al­lowed to have wig wag lights are emer­gency ser­vices.

“In Vic­to­ria, our lights ash above your head. In New South Wales they have both them and head­lights ash­ing,” he says. “In Vic­to­ria, the only peo­ple al­lowed to have head­lights ash­ing are emer­gency ve­hi­cles.”

Even though it’s only a small oper­a­tion tucked away in a CMV ser­vice area, the BPP chaps don’t have a minute to spare.

“Eight hours a day the phones don’t stop ring­ing. And there’s a lot of email traf c for all the bits and pieces that make a bus a bus, like the emer­gency exit ham­mers, the emer­gency stick­ers,” Louder says. “They also have re­la­tion­ships with many of the sup­pli­ers such as Hanover, and all these aux­il­iary sup­pli­ers where they can source the parts.

“A bus op­er­a­tor down in the coun­try can ring up BPP and say I need these dif­fer­ent fea­tures on my bus, can you get them for me, and the boys will source them all, in­voice it, send the parts out all on time.”

Con­sol­i­da­tion in the bus in­dus­try means the op­er­a­tors are larger now and are big enough to do their own deals with the sup­pli­ers.

BPP may be tucked away in a CMV ser­vice area, but that means it is colo­cated with one of the big­gest bus and coach sup­pli­ers in the state – Volvo.

That means there are ve to 10 new Volvo buses to t out each month, plus used ve­hi­cles pass­ing through on their way from one state to another need­ing speci c stick­ers for the new state.

Although it is owned by BusVic, Sam­mut and Cocks will soon be up­graded to the new CMV deal­er­ship just down the road from the present lo­ca­tion in Der­rimut.

“When we move to the new build­ing – we are prob­a­bly about 12 to 18 months from mov­ing into new deal­er­ship – then BPP will be re­lo­cated into more com­fort­able sur­round­ings,” Louder says.

Our guys are spe­cial­ists in that field

Bot­tom: BPP man­ager Shane Sam­mut, and parts in­ter­preter Ben Cocks

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