Behind the scenes at the first fully electric Operators Club Final

Last year’s Operators Club Final displayed an intense competition as operators battled it out on Volvo CE’s growing range of electric construction equipment.

When passion meets precision, you get the Operators Club Final – a thrilling showcase of exceptional talent in the construction industry – and this October, our GB finalists faced off against some of the world’s best.

Our first finalist, 39-year-old Liam Lambert from Attleborough, Norfolk, had already had a taste of the competition in 2016, while for our second competitor, 36-year-old Tom Whiting from Market Weighton, Yorkshire, it was his very first time.

Last year’s competition marked the 25th anniversary since the Operators Club was founded in Germany in 1998 with the purpose of celebrating operators’ prowess and providing a platform for Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) and its dealers to receive direct feedback from those behind the controls. Over the years, the Operators Club has evolved into a thriving community of more than 25,000 operators of all brands of machinery across 17 countries.

The competitors were challenged to try some difficult tasks using the Volvo EC230 Electric Excavator

The 2023 event was particularly significant in that, for the first time ever, it introduced an entirely electric lineup of machines. The contestants were tasked with manoeuvring an L25 Electric compact wheeled loader and trailer through a challenging slalom course, passing basketballs through hoops of varying heights using an EC230E Electric excavator, and flipping tyres into a bucket with an L120H Electric Conversion wheeled loader. Tom advanced to the super final, where he also had to fill a pipe with buckets of water using an EC18 Electric compact excavator.

Before the GB regional heat in July, neither Liam nor Tom had ever operated a fully electric machine and the same was true for many of the other 23 finalists. Liam usually operates a 20 t diesel-powered Volvo crawler excavator and, interestingly, his brother, who also works with him at Liam Lambert Construction, operates an old Volvo EC200B excavator that is still going strong with more than 10,000 hours on the clock! Tom, on the other hand, operates a 13 t excavator from another brand, so it was a great opportunity for him to experience the benefits of Volvo machines, as well as the benefits of electromobility.

Liam sits in the Volvo EC230 Electric Excavator for the first time to familiarise himself with the controls.

To help level the playing field, Volvo CE organised a day of test-driving the day before the competition. The competitors also received a tour of the Volvo factory in Belley, where electric compact excavators are made, to learn more about the technology from Volvo experts.

Both Liam and Tom were captivated by the responsiveness of the electric machines. In their words, “absolutely zero lag at all.” They also remarked how quiet the operation was and how the casual conversations they were having while on the sidelines would have been impossible near diesel machines. Being provided with the opportunity to have an in-depth overview of the brand-new L120H Electric Conversion wheeled loader and operating the EC230E Electric crawler excavator, was a particular highlight for the duo.

The competition was nothing short of challenging, with exceptional talent on display. The unconventional tasks pushed the operators to their limits, testing their speed, dexterity, and precision. Ultimately, Tom secured the 10th position, and Liam landed in 17th place.

Yet, it’s crucial to remember that the Operators Club Final isn’t solely about winning; it’s also about sharing experiences and having fun with operators from around the world. It offers a unique opportunity to gain insights into different types of machinery, broaden horizons, and make lasting connections.

Even among the two GB competitors, Liam and Tom had much to discuss and bond over. Their discussions not only centred on their experiences in the competition but also their shared experiences of working within the construction industry.

The 2023 Operators Club Final was more than a competition. It was a celebration of skill, innovation, and above all, shared passion – a true testament to the spirit of collaboration within the construction industry.

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