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Auckland excavator operators compete for glory

More than thirty of Auckland’s best excavator operators will pour tea, slam-dunk basketballs and even navigate an egg and spoon challenge with their massive machines at the Regional Excavator Operator Competition this weekend.

The annual competition will take place this weekend at the Big Boys Toys expo at ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane from 16-18 November in front of around 30,000 people.

Competition co-ordinator Roald Badenhorst from CCNZ Auckland Branch said this year’s event would be hotly contested, with defending regional champion Nick Cain returning to defend his title against competitors like the ‘legendary’ Brian Hoffmann, a repeat winner who had represented Auckland in the national competition multiple times.

Mr Badenhorst said spectators should look out for friendly rivalry between Kim Dixon and Shannan Bell, while up-and-coming 23-year-old Jake Alderson was expected to put on a show after winning the ‘Good Bugger’ award for competitive spirit in the 2017 event.

“This year’s competition is shaping up to be very exciting. There’s a massive amount of infrastructure work happening in Auckland right now, which means the skill level amongst the competitors is very high. It’s going to be a real spectacle.”

The competition is one of 10 held around the country to find New Zealand’s best excavator operator. The regional winners will battle it out at the Civil Contractors New Zealand’s 25th National Excavator Operator Competition at Central Districts Field Days in March 2019.

Simon Birchall of the event’s Platinum Sponsor CablePrice said his company was delighted to support the regional and national competitions. He said the events demonstrated what was possible with excavators, and how technology was transforming the industry.

CablePrice sponsors, provides and services the excavators for the three-day-long event. The machines have a minimum of 12 controls and are becoming increasingly sophisticated with GPS and satellite controls allowing excavators to assess how far to dig and where to dig, giving greater accuracy and avoiding underground utility services.

“It’s always great to see people step up and put their skills on show,” Mr Birchall said. “These tasks demonstrate the precision skilled operators can achieve with the right equipment, and how they can navigate underground obstacles like drain pipes, gas pipes and electricity cables.”

Contestants would also be judged on the health and safety precautions they take, as well as their planning and foresight.

Mr Badenhorst said the competition was hosted at the Construction Zone, which was a great spectator event popular with families with young children. Children would have a chance to drive ‘Gerald, the CablePrice Digger’ – a 1.7 tonne Hitachi mini digger children over two years of age could drive with a supervisor for a gold coin donation. There would also be opportunities for grown-ups to try one of the competition challenges to raise funds for the Gut Cancer Foundation and fight gastro intestinal cancer.

As well as a place at the national competition, the winner will receive approximately $2000 worth of prizes, with prizes for second and third place as well as the Good Bugger Award, Non-CCNZ Member Prize and the Legacy Team Prize, which is awarded to the company with the most points across its competitors. All prizes are kindly donated by generous sponsors, including Before U Dig, CablePrice, Connexis, Hirepool, Enzed, First Gas, CivilShare, Humes, Global Survey, Total Lubricants, MIT, ICB Retaining & Construction, Contractor Magazine, Stellar Recruitment and Z Energy.

New Zealand’s civil construction and maintenance industry carries out approximately NZD$12b of work annually, employing around 60,000 workers. Excavator operators in Auckland work on significant projects including the Central Interceptor wastewater project, tunnels, motorways, water pipes and residential infrastructure to cater for Auckland housing demands.

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