Crane Operator Rodeo Rounds Up Winners

At ConExpo, Maximum Capacity Media hosted its first Crane Operator Rodeo, which was designed to bring greater attention to the importance of training and safe crane operation. "New OSHA regulations have put increased priority on the certification of crane operators, and as such, ConExpo was the perfect venue to provide large numbers of crane operators and fleet managers with information about training and certification," said Guy Ramsey, MCM president and publisher.

Located in the Gold Lot, the Rodeo was open to anyone registered for the triennial trade show and encompassed several components of crane operation. All attendees were welcome to test their skills on mobile crane simulators supplied by Vortex. However, to operate the Liebherr LTF 1045-4.1 truck crane, sponsored by Liebherr Werk-Ehingen of Germany, show attendees were required to show proficiency on the simulators before advancing  to the mobile crane course or show officials a current mobile crane operator certification card from CIC, NCCCO, NCCER, or operator's union. The crane course was designed by Mike Parnell, president of Industrial Training International, and was a modified version of the course used during Crane Institute of America Certification's practical exams, who was the training and certification sponsor of the event.

Other Rodeo sponsors included DICA, which supplied the outrigger pads, and The Crosby Group, which supplied the rigging. Slingmax sponsored the slings, and Quality Mat Co. sponsored the crane mats. Additionally, Industrial Training International and Hirschmann sponsored trophies for the top crane operator and top simulator, respectively.

Operator Testing

The mobile crane test offered several different course options, and participants selected the courses they were to be tested on. These included the Test Weight Slalom Course in which participants maneuvered the test weight through prescribed course from the starting point and the landing point. Points were deducted for contacting anything with the test weight, missing the landing point, and knocking over a barrel. Another test included the Bucket Brigade, where the operator was required to maneuver a pre-rigged water bucket from start to finish. Points were deducted for losing water or contacting for the water bucket making contact with objects other than the receiving stand and target bucket.  Other tests included maneuvering a pre-rigged blue pipe without contacting or knocking over a barrel, and moving a pre-rigged magnet man throughout a course.

A rigger's test was conducted. In addition to a written exam, the basic practical tests included rating the participant on his or her ability to properly tie five knots or hitches, such as the bowline, square knot, clove hitch, double half hitch, and sheet bend. Participants also demonstrated their ability to give 10 hand signals selected from current signals published by OSHA or ASME. Another test was the rigging inspection, where the contestant demonstrated the ability to distinguish rigging gear that is acceptable for use as prescribed by ASME B30.9 and B30.26. Finally, an advanced test for riggers was to demonstrate their ability to provide a rigging method that created acceptable load control for a designated load. The load's weight was provided, but it had to be rigged with a tagline and moved using standard ASME/OSHA hand signals to a designated landing point. Point deductions were for rigging below 60° from the horizontal and allowing any damage to the equipment.

Top Operators and Riggers

By Saturday, March 26, more than 550 ConExpo attendees had come through the Crane Operator Rodeo. In total, more than 140 crane operators ran the Liebherr crane and 375 operated the simulators. Winners of the Crane Operator Rodeo were announced that morning by CIC and ITI. The winners included:

Grand Champion: Wes Dowd, Davis Crane Service

Top Crane Operator: Brian Showalter, CSE Inc.

Top Simulator Operator: Jeremy Mellott, Digging & Rigging Inc.

Top Rigger: Wes Dowd, Davis Crane Service

Maximum Capacity Media caught up with Wes Dowd, rigging superintendent for Davis Crane Service, Irving, Texas, following the award ceremony. Dowd started his career in the crane industry as an oiler and became a crane operator for 10 years. Today, he is the rigging superintendent but "still runs cranes." Dowd said he was at ConExpo because Davis Crane Service had purchased a new 275-ton Link-Belt crane at the show. Dowd hadn't planned to participate in the rodeo but signed up to take the test the day before the event ended. Based on his quick times and precise rigging and operation, he won the rigging test and was named Grand Champion of the event.