When heavy equipment operators want to prove how skilled they are at their jobs, they may elect to compete in a heavy equipment rodeo. These gatherings bring together the best and brightest machine operators on one course and put them through a series of agility and concentration tests that are demanding, stressful, and nearly impossible for all but those who have years of experience in the field.
These rodeos put on display the talents that many of us take for granted. Heavy equipment operators, especially crane operators, must be entrusted to lift tons of potentially dangerous materials – all on relatively unstable or crowded job sites. The amount of ownership a crane operator must have in his or her job is immense.
The rodeo in Washington State a few weeks back was a semi-final regional challenge that will send a pair of finalists to the big show in Las Vegas next year. March 6-7th of 2014 will showcase the Heavy Equipment Rodeo Championship at a contractor’s expo in Vegas and promises to be an exciting event. Some of the specific activities that the rodeo entrants will have to accomplish include:
- Safely placing a 12″ diameter ball into a 55-gallon drum, lifting it completely out, placing it into a second empty drum, and then placing it back into the first drum – all in less than 5 minutes.
- Lifting and carrying a 55-gallon drum filled with water through a “slalom course” of four other barrels and back to the starting line – in less then five minutes.
- Standing up a cement-filled pipe to a vertical position, laying it down in the opposite direction, in less than five minutes.
The overall goal is to achieve the lowest score. Points are added for errors or dangerous maneuvers, and any competitor that goes over any of the maximum time allotments will be penalized with additional points.
The Washington-based regional competition showcased the skills and talents of a variety of competitors – from men to women, newbies to seasoned pros. Even an instructor who admits that he spends less than 15 minutes a month in a crane cab was successful. In the end only two competitors will move on to the championship in Las Vegas next year. One thing is for sure – crane operators are the cowboys of the heavy equipment field. With a lot to lose and almost no margin for error, crane operators must feel like they’re at a rodeo every time they strap into their cab seat.