06.10.2023 | News
In a celebration of skill, precision, and dedication to the art of crane operation, the first-ever UK Tower Crane Operator of the Year competition recently took place at the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) on Saturday, the 30th of September 2023, as a part of the UK Plant Operator of the Year campaign.
We are thrilled to announce that the winner was Tom Allen, one of our esteemed employees at WOLFFKRAN. In this article, we delve into the exciting event and gain insights from Tom himself, along with commentary from Sean Hutson, WOLFFKRAN SHEQ Manager & Head of Lifting, who witnessed the competition first-hand.
Tom Allen, Tower Crane Operator of the Year
Tom operates one of our yard cranes at the UK Head Office in Sheffield. He was recognised as the star performer on the day, outshining a field of highly skilled operatives who participated in the competition.
In an interview with Tom Allen, he shared his thoughts on what it means to be named the Tower Crane Operator of the Year. "Being named the Tower Crane Operator of the Year is an incredibly rewarding experience. It acknowledges my skills and expertise in the field and represents the hard work, dedication, and countless hours I've spent perfecting my craft," Tom said. "This title is more than just a personal achievement; it signifies a standard of excellence and a commitment to safety and precision in our industry."
Tom learned about the competition through WOLFFKRAN's online news updates, which keep all employees informed about exciting news and developments within the company. His journey to becoming a tower crane operator began with an apprenticeship at WOLFFKRAN after completing college. Tom's training took place at the CITB National Construction College in Bircham Newton, lasting 12 weeks and covering the fundamentals of crane operation.
Reflecting on the competition, Tom highlighted one of the most challenging moments: "The Zig Zag route with the W design made of scaffold boards was nerve-wracking, especially with the pressure of the clock. I kept my focus and relied on the training and experience I gained from working at WOLFFKRAN to guide me."
Over the years, Tom has accumulated a wealth of experience in crane operation through his work at WOLFFKRAN. "Working at WOLFFKRAN has been a treasure trove of experiences. Being surrounded by seasoned professionals, I've had countless valuable experiences that have contributed immensely to my growth. Each day presents a new learning opportunity. The collective wisdom and mentorship of my colleagues at WOLFFKRAN have been instrumental in shaping my career and making me the operator I am today," Tom shared.
When asked about advice for aspiring tower crane operators, Tom emphasised continuous learning, prioritising safety, and seeking feedback. "Never stop learning; the industry is always evolving. Focus on safety above everything else—it protects you, your team, and the integrity of the project. Lastly, always seek feedback, both positive and constructive.
Competing in events like the Tower Crane Operator of the Year is a great way to measure your skills against industry standards and learn from your peers. Embrace every challenge as a learning opportunity, and remember, every expert was once a beginner," Tom concluded.
Sean Hutson's Perspective
Sean Hutson, WOLFFKRAN SHEQ manager & Head of Lifting, shared his insights on the Tower Crane Operator of the Year competition. He praised the organisation of the event, noting the fantastic arrival process and superb event management. Families and industry enthusiasts enjoyed seeing various pieces of heavy machinery, including WOLFFKRAN Tower Cranes, adding to the overall excitement of the day.
The competition itself was designed to test operators' skill, control, and accuracy to the limit. Operators had to manoeuvre a concrete block attached to the crane to simulate a heavy load, landing it on markers at different radii. The most challenging part was a complex course that required operators to follow a W-shaped path made of scaffold boards while racing against the clock. Sean described it as a true test of operating skills and decision-making under pressure.
"All of the challengers should be proud of themselves," Sean emphasised. "Just to put their name forward and travel varying distances, including one participant from Ireland, was a challenge. To get up the crane and complete the course, no matter how long it took, was an achievement in itself."
Despite the fierce competition from operators who travelled from far and wide, Tom Allen from WOLFFKRAN emerged as the winner. Sean noted Tom's composure, skill, and control with "dead eye" accuracy, which set him apart. Tom's humility in victory also earned him respect from his peers.
Tom Allen's success inspires aspiring crane operators, and his journey from apprentice to champion exemplifies the dedication and commitment required to excel in this field. Congratulations to Tom and all the participants who made this event a memorable showcase of skill and precision in crane operation.
The Competition and Industry's Focus on Skills Development
It attracts substantial interest from owners, operators, hirers, and contractors from across the UK. UK Plant Operators Magazine recognises the severe skills gap in the industry and the urgent need for attention.
The pathway to becoming a plant operator has been simplified with best-in-class training available through the CITB National Construction College (NCC). The best plant hire companies provide excellent terms and conditions, first-class opportunities, and the latest technology. Together, they are creating a safer, more innovative, and cleaner environment to attract the next generation of UK Plant Operators, ensuring the industry thrives with skilled professionals like Tom Allen at the helm.