Fifteen operators competed for the title of forklift rodeo champion at the first ever Midwest Food Processors Association forklift rodeo, held during that organization’s annual convention December 3rd – 5th. Wisconsin Lift Truck co-hosted the event, partnering with Seneca Foods, SBS Battery, Jax, Kaman and Orbis. The event was held at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee with about 900 key food manufacturing stakeholders from around the Midwest coming together to learn and to network.
The forklift competition began with the challenge of maneuvering an electric CAT E30N2 lift truck through an obstacle course with a pallet holding a cone and tennis ball. They then had to go through the course again in reverse without dropping the ball. Other challenges in the rodeo included attempting to balance a pallet on top 4 cones, then changing trucks to an electric Linde E25PL for a basketball challenge in which drivers had to pick up basketballs with the forks and shoot baskets into 3 different sized containers.
Aside from the fun, a practical purpose was served by operators demonstrating the need for skill, safety and work pacing. Judges stood by with clip boards and timers. Each contestant’s time had 30 seconds added to it for every demerit given for errors. The driver with the shortest amount of time won, demonstrating that safety and accuracy was more effective than just the speed of the course.
Telesforo Guerra Jr., from the Del Monte - Mendota location won the competition by completing the course in 12 minutes and 12 seconds. Kurt Selle of Seneca Foods – Glencoe location placed second with a time of 12:38. Omar Garza, also of the Del Monte - Mendota location, came in third with a time of 12:46.
“Forklifts play such a vital role in the food manufacturing and distribution process,” said Corey Badtke from Seneca Foods. “The rodeo provided an excellent opportunity for drivers in the industry to demonstrate their skills and it was an exciting way to promote forklift safety."