Forklift truck and warehouse equipment manufacturer, Linde Material Handling (UK), held its annual Forklift Ultimate Operator Challenge recently at Linde Sterling in Bolton.
The 18 finalists were selected from a number of competitions throughout the year, held at customer sites and Linde facilities throughout the UK.
John Thompson, Linde Driver Training Manager, said: "Over the past eight months we held a series of competitions challenging 350 competitors to find the elite 18 to compete against each other for the national championship. The Operator Challenge tests the operator's practical driving skill to the limit, each competitor completed 4 difficult practical challenges to exceptionally high standards.
Andrew Rawson of Boots UK was the overall winner with Kris Scarborough, from Wilko's last year's winner, coming in second and Jake Walmsley from Victrex plc coming in third. Rawson was "totally surprised to have the privilege of winning, the standard of competitors has continued to increase making it a much tougher competition".
Commenting on this year's challenge, Steve Redman, Aftersales Director of Linde Jewsbury's said: "The calibre of competitors gets better every year and is a great testament to the event which is ultimately to promote best practice and encourage enhanced levels of personal safety and handling efficiency"
All three winners will go on to compete as a team at the International Forklift Cup in Aschaffenburg, Germany in September which will be the tenth anniversary for the event. On this occasion the drivers will also have the opportunity to qualify for the first World Singles Championship. Since the first event nine years ago, over 16,000 operators alone in Germany have taken their starting positions to the cheers of nearly 100,000 spectators. In Germany it has established itself as an outstanding event in its sector and encourages safer working in production and warehouse logistics.
Linde Material Handling GmbH, a company of KION Group AG, is one of the world's leading manufacturers of forklift trucks and warehouse technology equipment, and is the market leader in Europe. The company also offers the expertise it has gained from many decades of developing and producing electrical drive systems to external customers for a wide range of applications. Active on an international scale, Linde Material Handling operates production and assembly plants in all key regions worldwide, as well as a global sales and service network with representatives in more than 100 countries. In the 2013 financial year, Linde Material Handling employed a staff of around 13,800 and achieved sales of EUR 2.881 billion.