Although it is called the RTITB Operator of the Year competition, the success of this prestigious competition, now in its third run, would not be possible without the tireless support of the partners, Toyota Material Handling UK, TNT Express Services UK and Ireland, and Calor Gas Ltd – industry leaders united in a common aim to improve standards and safety across the materials handling arena.
TNT Express Services UK and Ireland return to sponsor the competition for a second time, having been a major partner in 2011. Simon Harper, the company’s director of operations is looking forward to the grand final in September after the success of the preliminary rounds.
“As a sponsor we were unsure how RTITB could improve on the 2011 competition. We are pleased to say that they have, both in venue and in the individual categories. The grand final in September promises to be a real showcase of operator standards. TNT Express has a long-standing working relationship with RTITB and was pleased to be able to support the initiative and provide a platform upon which our own operators could compete against the very best across all industries.”
Also returning to sponsor the competition for a second time, Toyota Material Handling UK has a strong interest in the standards set by the competition and its resulting high profile status throughout the industry. Commenting on the competition recently, Tony Wallis, director of sales and marketing said: “The standards and challenges have become more demanding and this has been recognised by businesses that have seen a significant increase in the profile of the competition.”
As another grand final approaches, safety standards and issues relating to training are once again at the forefront of discussion within the industry. For Calor Gas Ltd, the competition’s third major sponsor, the safety and standards message was a significant motivating factor in their decision to support the contest. Keith Higginson, commercial marketing manager at Calor, commented: “Training is high on the agenda at Calor, so sponsoring an event with the largest training body for lift truck accreditation in the UK and Ireland was a great opportunity. It’s also an excellent opportunity to promote LPG trucks, driven by the best operators in the country.”
Echoing this sentiment, Simon Harper said: “The RTITB Operator of the Year competition fits in with TNT’s own Corporate Responsibility (CR) programme in which CR is recognised as not only the right thing to do, but also makes good business sense. This is embedded in TNT culture which aims to achieve standards of responsible care across a number of key areas including health and safety and employee welfare.”
Tony Wallis added: “Toyota has identified that the highest costs with material handling equipment are the operators. This competition raises the profile and awareness, highlighting that good practice drives down costs through less damage and more efficient operations. In addition, the increased awareness and focus on skills reduces accidents in the workplace, which is a core objective in Toyota. The profile of this competition is the highest in the industry and it is seen as the most coveted operator award available.”
Of course, while safety and standard setting are obviously high on the agenda for all involved in the competition and the wider industry, there is also a positive sense of aspiration, a desire to operate at a higher level of professionalism amongst the hundreds of thousands of operators who entered the competition, and this is reflected in the high standards set by the ten grand finalists. “[The competition] provides operators across the industry with a platform to showcase their skills and be rewarded for them,” said Calor’s Keith Higginson.
“The kudos of the competition brings a sense of achievement and recognition for those that got through to the finals. They reflect the best in the field, and what others should aspire to,” commented Tony Wallis. He added: “This competition raises brand awareness but also Toyota’s commitment to driving down costs in materials handling through improvements in skill and efficiency, and importantly, reductions in accidents.”
“TNT Express leads the way within its industry when it comes to commitment to safety and operational excellence,” said Simon Harper. “This competition underlines the industry’s dedication to excellence and provides a platform for operators to compete and demonstrate their skills.” Commenting on his own personal ambitions for the competition, he added: “Of course, if any of our operators were to win that would be a bonus.” He has good reason to feel confident after Gary Maher, a TNT employee was the last winner of the competition, and another TNT operator, Graham Fitter, succeeded in reaching the final this year. “It will be a magnificent achievement if Graham can rise to the challenge to emulate the high standards demonstrated by Gary in 2011.”
The message from all three sponsors is clear: safe working practices and quality, accredited training are of paramount importance in the materials handling sector, for operators and employers alike. Their support of the RTITB Operator of the Year competition is a clear demonstration of their commitment to raising operating standards and awareness across the industry.