OPERATOR CORNER: An Austrian operator is current holder of the Volvo Construction Equipment Operators Club European title
As a first-time entrant, 29-year-old Johannes Unger says he had no real expectation of winning the most challenging and hard-fought contest in the Volvo CE Operators Club’s history. Competition was intense with just 22 finalists from 11 countries making it to the final out of more than 2,000 entrants from across Europe.
Working against the clock, the first challenge was a slalom course on a DD22 asphalt compactor, with the fastest time claiming the final starting position for the actual competition. Two challenges for all 22 finalists followed
with the best ten going through to the third and final challenge – the combined time from the three deciding
the overall winner
The first round involved digging a hole of at least 50cm x 50cm to a depth of exactly 30cm using an ECR88D short radius compact excavator. The excavated material had to be heaped directly behind the hole and neither the material, the excavator bucket nor the operator were allowed to touch a guiding wire less than 40cm away. With penalties for touching the wire or digging the hole too small or to the wrong depth, concentration, precision digging and an experienced eye were key.
Finalists were then confronted by a swinging tire as they took to the controls of an L70G wheel loader to lift a truck tire from a platform using a tire insert hanging from a chain mounted on a fork attachment. Once the tire was lifted they had to reverse back through a gate and then forward to place the tire back on a second platform. Both platforms were surrounded by four columns, each supporting a tennis ball, with penalties for each displaced ball.
The final challenge saw competitors from six countries still in the running with the outcome far from a foregone conclusion as operators were asked to build a breeze block (cinder block) tower using an ECR145D short swing radius excavator. The blocks had to be moved and placed using the teeth of the bucket and then a pail of sand had to be successfully placed on top of the tower.
Johannes Unger snatched the title in spectacular style ahead of Swiss nine-time finalist Ueli Hunziker by just 19 seconds; Germany’s Michael Rosendahl took third place, 22 seconds clear of Austria’s Martin Moser in fourth place.
Clutching his trophy, a thrilled Johannes said: “To be standing on the podium with the winner’s trophy is really good. It’s been a perfect day!”
Johannes, who lives in Münster and works for Gubert General Contracting operating a Volvo EC210C excavator added: “Now I’ve won the European final I hope I’ll get a new D-Series Volvo at work!”
Vice President Marketing for Volvo CE Sales Region EMEA (Europe-Middle East-Africa) Mike Humphrey commented: “I am delighted that the Volvo CE Operators Club is giving machine operators both recognition and the chance to socialize and compete against each other. We at Volvo CE are extremely proud of the Club and I am delighted to announce that it will be even bigger in 2014 as Russia will be joining.”
The Volvo CE Operators Club is growing and is open to all those who operate construction equipment of any size and make. To join, simply go to www.volvoce.com, select your country and click on the tab for Operators Club.