Crane Operators Will Compete in Skills Championship at CONEXPO 2014

During Conexpo-Con/Agg 2014 the Crane Institute Certification (CIC) will co-host the Crane Operator Skills Championship in booth 2975, adjacent to the Gold Lot.

The Crane Operator Skills Championship is a partnership between CIC and Maximum Capacity Media, publisher of Crane & Rigging Hot Line magazine. Other sponsors supporting the event are Liebherr, Houston International Insurance Group, Slingmax, The Crosby Group, Hirschmann, DICA Outrigger Pads, and InfoChip.

The Championship in Las Vegas is the culmination of eight regional competitions that took place in 2013 across the U.S. and in Canada, plus a qualifying round open to all registered Conexpo attendees scheduled for the first two days of the show -- March 4-5 -- in Las Vegas. In all, 18 crane operators will compete in the championship March 6-7 at the show.

Crane Operator Skills Championship Takes Competition to New Heights

The crane operator skills competitions are designed to acknowledge the special skills it takes to be a crane operator; to introduce the profession to young people; and to educate local governments and businesses about the role training, experience, and certification plays in safe crane operation.

Mike Smith, Safety Director of Crane Rental Corp., Orlando, Fla., commented that the course challenges, which are a modification of the Practical Exams administered by CIC for certification, accurately demonstrate the skills an operator uses on the job at a construction site.

The competition includes time on a crane simulator and rigging challenges. Practical tasks in the crane seat include three challenges designed to test their ability to control the load while performing multiple simultaneous functions. Each contestant’s score reflects total time, plus points added for errors. The lowest score wins.

The Barrel Dunk involves lowering the headache ball into a barrel, raising it up and then moving and lowering it into a series of barrels, without moving the barrels.

The Slalom requires operators to maneuver a water-filled drum through a slalom course. Operators must keep the 3-foot chain attached to the bottom of the drum in contact with the ground at all times, weaving the load through the course without disturbing any of the barrels in the slalom.

The Pipe involves lifting a 10-foot, cement-filled PVC pipe from a horizontal position on the ground placed within a set of cones. Operators lift the pipe to a vertical position, move it through the space within cones while in the vertical position, and then lay it back down on the ground without moving the cones.

“It’s all about the control, whether or not the hook is 250 feet away from the crane or it’s working right up close to the machine shaking out iron. It’s a very hard skill to master. It’s definitely a good thing to be able to come out here and show your skills,” Smith said of the Orlando regional event he attended.

"Contestants have to respond to hand signals quickly and accurately, and they hav eto compete tasks in the least amount of time with no compromise to job safety," said Debbie Dickinson, CIC executive director. "The competition really does set the bar for what employers can expect from operators on site."

At Conexpo, operators will compete on a 265-ton Liebherr LTM 1220-5.2 all-terrain crane, featuring a 197-foot main boom. Liebherr is the official crane sponsor of the National Operator Skills Championship. 

Additional tasks will include operating a crane simulator and performing rigging.

The Champion will receive $2,000 cash, a one-of-a-kind hand tooled Western belt buckle, a one-of-a-kind leather bomber jacket, and a die-cast crane model. First runner-up will receive $1,000 cash plus an award jacket, and a die-cast crane model. The second runner-up will receive $500 cash, an award jacket, and a die-cast crane model.  All finalists who make it to the Championship level will have bragging rights.

Operators attending ConExpo are encouraged to pre-register in advance in order to assure a spot in the qualifier competition on March 4-5. Time slots are limited.

In addition, CIC will introduce a new certification for Lift Directors at ConExpo. The designation of lift director is increasingly being identified in various standards, including ASME B30, OSHA 1926.1400, and the soon-to-be-finalized ASME P30.

The Lift Director designation includes much of the same knowledge, skills, and abilities required to be a Rigger or Advanced Rigger. Additional knowledge areas include mobile crane operations, lift planning and procedural and personnel activities during load handling. The Lift Director certification includes prerequisite tests and a comprehensive written test specific to Lift Director.