Digging it at Big Boys Toys

Competitor Laurence Kennel vies for top position. Image / Hugh Jannings
Competitor Laurence Kennel vies for top position. Image / Hugh Jannings
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The Auckland Regional Excavator Operator Competition was held during the Big Boys Toys show over the weekend.

The competition, held at the ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane, was a showcase of the skills of some of the best operators working for civil companies around Auckland City. 

Operators, working behind the controls of a 12 tonne Hitachi ZX120-3 excavator, faced various obstacles during the competition, with the course taking around 45 minutes.

The obstacles included a pipe crossing, where an operator had to move a small circular ring attached to the digger arm around a piece of bent pipe without touching the pipe itself; touching the two together would lose the operator points.

Other challenges were to paint the letters BO5 on a piece of paper with an attached paint brush, level a small hill and then use a laser to gauge how flat the surface was; and stack a series of tyres on top of each other using the diggers bucket.

Operators were also tasked with collecting two basketballs with their excavator bucket and deliver them through a manhole on top of a water feature, without being able to see where the manhole was positioned.

The most impressive tasks involved the opening of a beer bottle, pouring a cup of tea without spillage, picking up an egg with an attachment called a ripper, and placing it into a small cup without breakage.

One of the event organisers, Regan Burke from Civil Contractors New Zealand, said only around 12 out of 50 operators would be capable of opening the bottle of beer.

Contest and SH16 employee Laurence Kennel was able to complete the egg, water feature, balancing a piece of wood on a single road cone challenges, and arguably painted one of the best pictures on day one.

Kennel said: “The competition is a good way to see how well you can go at these small tasks, but at the end of the day this is only a small evaluation of operating a digger.”

Kennel came second on day one and sixth overall in Auckland. 

Gallery: Images from the Auckland Regional Excavator Operator Competition

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Hugh Jannings

Hugh Jannings is an aspiring broadcaster and journalist with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. He achieved his goals at the New Zealand Radio Training School.
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