OPERATOR CORNER: A Spanish operator has a passion for classical music
by Derek Workman
Fixed above the windscreen of the Volvo L110G wheel loader is a photo of a three-year-old boy wearing a blue sweater and a shy smile. His name is Aitor Molero, and he keeps his proud father, Eusebio, company during long hours behind the wheel. It is fairly normal for a proud father to have a photo of his son on display – but the others keeping him ‘company’ are little more unusual: Mozart, Beethoven and Shostakovich.
“Because I support Real Madrid, most people think I called my son after Aitor Karanka, who was the assistant manager and an ex-player with the club – but honestly, it wasn’t me who chose the name, it was my wife Ana.” However, Molero’s smile indicates he was not completely averse to the idea.
Eusebio Molero has followed his team for most of his 37 years, but football comes second to his main passion, which goes some way towards explaining the classical company he keeps in his cab. In his free time Molero plays the saxophone alongside 15 other musicians in a local band, Agrupación musical l’atropello – the Outrageous Musical Group – as well as with a 110-strong local municipal band.
“I began studying music when I was seven but didn’t start playing in a band until I was 14,” he explains. He started playing the alto and tenor sax, and is still playing them 23 years later. He practices from 2pm to 6pm after his morning shift at Valencia-based Antonio Tarazona SL, Spain’s third largest producer of fertilizers and industrial additives, where Molero has spent all his working life, just a 10-minute drive from his home in Paiporta.
“We play at all sorts of festivals and fiestas, such as Las Fallas, Valencia’s largest party which takes place over four days in March, probably the biggest in Spain,” explains Molero. “What might surprise some people is that we also play classical music from the great composers, which we adapt for brass. The classics have always been my favorite, and when I’m in my cab I almost always have a classical CD playing. It relaxes me and helps me focus on what I’m doing, especially when we have to react very quickly, such as when we are moving the cargo on a bulk carrier that is delivered to the factory direct from the port in Valencia. We move around 3,000 tonnes in a single day, and playing classical music helps me enormously to concentrate on what I’m doing.”
GOOD OLD DAYS?
Molero is pleased with the machine he uses on a daily basis – one of four Volvo wheel loaders recently bought by the firm. They are a far cry from the heavy machine his father drove for Tarazona prior to the Volvo purchases, before retiring after 23 years with the company.
“From when I was a small boy my father (also called Eusebio) used to take me to work with him at weekends, so I practically grew up with loaders,” he explains. “In those days, they were very hard to work with. The earlier models were like driving a tank – they took so much effort to turn the steering wheel that at the end of the day you had muscles as if you had done a workout in the gym.”
The concept of actually working out in a gym, he says, did not cross the mind of most people 30 years ago – they kept fit by working hard.
“I remember my father coming home in the evenings and putting an electrically heated cushion across his lower back. In those days, a lot of operators had problems with their kidneys because of all the bumping when you raised and lowered the bucket.” Another common ailment was a painfully stiff left knee, because the left leg barely moved during the long working day because of lack of space. The concept of ‘ergonomics’ did not exist three decades ago.
No surprise, then, that Molero is delighted with his new Volvo L110G. The boom suspension system absorbs shock and reduces bouncing and bucket spillage when moving fast, the electrically activated, wide-opening engine hood allows quick and easy access to the engine compartment, and engine shutdown takes place after a predetermined time (between two and 50 minutes).
“It steers with a finger, and you can set the height to how high or low you want the bucket to go in about two seconds,” says Molero. “It automatically stops at the exact point, so there is none of the bumping that used to happen, which protects both the bucket and the ground surface, as well as making it more comfortable for the operator. Everything is designed for greater productivity, with excellent fuel saving and a lot more power. It’s a magic machine to operate.”
Antonio Tarazona SL is still a family-owned business, and in some ways Molero can be seen as part of that family: he and Jorge Tarazona, the brother in charge of the technical/industrial division, have known each other since they were children.
“Tarazona has never been a company where a decision was made at management level and the workers just had to get on with it,” says Molero. “When the decision was made to change the wheel loaders we had been using for the last eight years, a group representing all areas in the company – management, administration, finance and operations – got together.
“When a representative of Maquinaria y Recambios de Levante SL, the Volvo CE-appointed local agents, brought a Volvo wheel loader to demonstrate, we were able to see it in action and were given every opportunity to ask the questions an operator would need to know. The financial elements are nothing to do with us, but we have to work in the cab day in, day out, and the operator has a better idea than most about how the machine will work and whether it will do the job it needs to do.”
With a five-year extended warranty, Molero and his fellow operators are confident the Volvo machines will keep them happy and comfortable for the foreseeable future.