Each year Centennial Coal participates, along with other miners from across New South Wales, in the NSW Minerals Council Health and Safety Innovation Awards. Centennial took out the coveted 2014 innovation award with its underground mining boot. Not just a boot, but a first of its kind - a “fit for purpose” boot, combining the best features of the leather boot and the gumboot.
The boot incorporates innovative design characteristics, including a special kind of leather used in hiking boots that is both soft and water repellent water and without conventional laces that tear and fray once wet. The laces are made of aviation steel to minimise the chance of snapping, while the inside of the boot has a waterproof booty and additional lining that is stitched in for extra support. The boot also uses a Boa system which tightens around the foot for an individualised fit. The boot design avoids the foot getting wet and the associated bacteria issues and provides adequate stability and cushioning.
The prototype, developed by Centennial’s Supply Team and Blundstone’s, started as a simple procurement project but quickly evolved into something much more. After talking to the people using regular boots, it was soon apparent that regular boots were not user friendly for the mining environment. Thereafter a focus group was formed and then some underground workers trialled the modified boot for 12 months. The workers made suggestions for improvements and this together with constant anecdotal feedback assured Kirsty and Michelle this innovation was significant. After 12 months there was no leakage, which was unheard of in the underground mining environment.
The third version of the fit for purpose boot is now in full production.
Centennial and Blundestone also took out the CIPS (Chartered Institute for Procurement and Supply-Australasia) award for Best Supplier Partnership for the underground mining boot, in October 2014. The CIPSA award recognises partnerships between suppliers and companies. CIPS members come from all sectors of businesses (large and small), mining, energy, government bodies and not for profit organisations.