Johannes Unger from Austria has claimed the title of ‘Europe’s best operator’ for the second time in one of the construction industry’s toughest tests of precision operation, the Operators Club Final. The competition was held this year in Alicante, Spain, in conjunction with the start of the prestigious Volvo Ocean Race.
On Saturday 21st October, Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) pitted 29 of Europe’s finest operators against each other in the epic battle of speed, precision and technique that is the Operators Club Final.
After a year of gruelling local heats, the event saw finalists from 15 countries across Europe – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine – come face to face in the Volvo Ocean Race village in the port of Alicante, Spain, 24 hours before the start of the 2017-2018 race.
First the operators had to pick up three basketballs
from a rack and drop them into containers using a Volvo L25F compact wheel loader fitted with a pallet fork attachment. Then the competitors had to drop three metal balls into a pipes of differing lengths using a Volvo ECR35D compact excavator and catch them again in the machine’s bucket. Both tasks were performed to time with penalties added for mistakes. The operators with the 10 quickest times took part in a grand final. This was similar to the first challenge, except the competitors had three minutes to move as many basketballs as they could, with different numbers of points available from each of the three containers.
Johannes Unger from Austria secured the top spot on the winner’s podium by scoring an impressive 30 points. He was followed by Sascha Moog from Germany and Ueli Hunziker from Switzerland, who scored 25 and 22 points respectively. Johannes Unger was previously the winner of the 2013 competition and came second in 2014, while Ueli Hunziker has taken part in the Operators Club Final 13 times, four of which he has made it to the podium. Last year’s winner, Ermes Gemo from Italy, finished in fifth place.
“The operators are like a big family. Every year, there are some who have been involved in the final in the past – they support each other,” said head referee Mikael Andersson, who is also an instructor at the Volvo CE Customer Center in Eskilstuna. “They are really proud to be one of the best operators in the country they represent. It is a big moment for them!”
“It was so dramatic and what a final! I must say it was the best final I have seen so far. It was so close, so exciting and people around were cheering – amazing!” said fellow referee Karl Serneberg, director of Marketing for Volvo CE Sales Region EMEA. “Each of the 29 that came here could be proud of themselves. First of all, they are champions in their own countries just to get there. That is an accomplishment on its own. Then they really showed us what good operators they are during the actual day.”
The Operators Club was first established in Germany in 1998 as a way for Volvo CE to show its appreciation for operators. Today it has more than 27,000 members and is growing continuously. Each of the 16 Operators Club branches runs its own events throughou the year, allowing operators to brush up their skills in a safe environment and share experiences with their peers. Networking
opportunities are also available through local Operators Club portals and social media groups. Other membership benefits include free entrance to exhibitions (such as Bauma), exclusive hospitality, factory visits and discounts on Volvo merchandise.
The proceedings at this year’s Operators Club were livestreamed on the Volvo CE EMEA Facebook page. The videos are still available for viewers to catch up on all the action.
For further information, please visit: www.volvoce.com/press
VP Corporate Communication
Volvo Construction Equipment
Sales Region EMEA (Europe – Middle East – Africa)
Tel: + 46 16 5415906
Tel: +44 207 923 5863