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Here in the US, we enjoy our forklift rodeos — friendly competitions where forklift operators from competing companies or regions can square off against each other to match their skills in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.
In Europe, they take forklift competitions very, very seriously.
Last week, forklift operators from more than 18 countries — including the US — will participate in the Forklift Driving Championship, the Forklift World Cup of precision driving.
Germany Defending Champion
The competitions was held September 18 to 20 at the home of Linde materials handling, located in Aschaffenburg, Germany. In addition to the German National and Company Team Championship events, this year’s competition featured a World Team Championship and, for the first time ever, a Singles Forklift Driving Championship.
More than 2,000 competitors from countries all over the globe attempted to qualify for the competition in national events. The winners traveled to Germany to compete against world-class forklift operators. In addition to the home nation of Germany, nations represented included Austria, Belgium, China, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Spain and the US.
Rigorous Competition Test Skill, Speed
The competitors were required to perform a series of everyday work actions — including stacking crates to millimeter precision, transporting vessels without spilling the liquids they contain, and maneuvering in the tightest of spaces — as quickly as possible.
“These contests attach great importance to the observation of safety regulations and hence to the prevention of accidents at work,” according to a news release issued by event organizers. “They are therefore open only to drivers who are qualified to operate industrial trucks, so to speak the forklift driver’s license.”
Aschaffenburg has been the home of the German forklift championships for the past decade. Beginning in 2007, it also has hosted the European team championships. This is the first year that the World Forklift Cup championships were held at the Aschaffenburg Schlossplatz. Germany is the defending world champion from 2013.
Forklift Operators Treated Like Rock Stars
Emil Schneider, Forklift Cup tournament director, said some of the German forklift operators who participate in the event are treated like rock stars back home.
“The Forklift Cup is an absolute recipe for success,” Schneider said. “In Germany, it has established itself as the most outstanding event in the sector. And the best drivers are being treated like stars in their home towns.”
The event was held in the city’s town square, next to its renowned castle Schloss Johannisburg.
Winners in qualifying heats received cash prizes. The winner of the World Team Championship was presented with the coveted Stapler World Cup, the most prestigious trophy in all of forklift driving. It’s sort of the like the Stanley Cup, the Super Bowl Trophy and the FIFA World Cup all rolled up into one.
The Forklift Cup attracts about 15,000 visitors every year. The even also features an exposition that includes other forklift industry products and services, along with other events.
Following this year’s award ceremony, the event’s visitors were treated to a concert by Christina Sturmer, the winner of this year’s ECHO singing competition, which is sort of like the European counterpart to American Idol, only a much bigger deal.