Earthmoving Events

Cat® Global Operator Challenge – Asia Pacific Finals

Global Operator Challenge

Life is all about making the most of opportunities. The five Australian finalists, who just competed in the Asia Pacific Finals of Global Operator Challenge, were treated to a life-changing week long experience in Tokyo where they went up against the best operators from Japan, Indonesia, India, and Philippines. When the dust settled, two Australians stood tall as the best operators in the Asia Pacific region. They qualified to compete in the Global Finals in March in Las Vegas at the 2023 CONEXPO.

Checking in at the Sydney International Airport, I knew there would be some great adventures in the week ahead. Not having been to Japan before, I knew it was going to be a bit of a culture shock. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the friendly, welcoming and helpful Japanese people that would go out of their way to help you – from the team at the Caterpillar D-Tech centre in Chichibu, to complete strangers that would regularly go out of their way to help when you inevitably got lost on the Japanese Rail System (JR). Or others who helped navigate an automated food ordering system.

Before I delve into the competition itself, let me just say I’ve been lucky enough to attend some significant events before in my time as a photo-journalist and digital creator. But the level of attention to detail that the Cat team went to in making this a world-class event was awe-inspiring. Several Australian competitors hadn’t been overseas before, so the bar has been set pretty high for them. But for Australian competitors Patrick Doheny (VIC) and Nick Thompson (SA), the adventure is set to continue in Las Vegas after placing first and second runner-up, respectively.

Global Operator Challenge
The Australian team did a fantastic job of representing their state and dealer.

The Australian team

As per the Australian state qualifying events, the Asia Pacific Finals revolved around three challenges, which the competitors were scored based on time, quality of work and safety. With the competition spread over two days and no leader board scores displayed, it was anyone’s guess right up to the presentation who had performed the best in the eyes of the judges. As it turned out, it was speed and time that the judges were most focused on. Time penalties were added to the competitor’s overall score for any indiscretions or mistakes made along the way.

The Australian team consisted of a great bunch of characters that did a fantastic job of representing their state and dealer. Jake Myers from WA shone as a standout performer. He has stepped into a different role at his work and hasn’t been operating machines for a year or so. I couldn’t help but imagine how well he would have gone had he been spending his days in a machine recently. Jake was awarded the prize for safety and performance, which truly showed the quality of his work. Jack Dival was the NSW finalist, who put in three impressive performances across the competition and missed out on making it to make the top three. Aiden Lee from QLD rounded out the Australian five finalists, and if it weren’t for a couple of penalties on his first challenge on the first day, where a few nerves just got the better of him, he also would have been a real candidate for the top three.

Global Operator Challenge
The first challenge of the three was the “Big Dig” Excavator Challenge.

The challenges

The first challenge of the three was the “Big Dig” Excavator Challenge, where competitors operated a Next Gen Cat 320 with 2D GRADE technology and 0.8 m3 bucket. The objective was to dig a 6,000mm trench to a depth of 900mm with a 3m flat bottom and a 3m 30 per cent slope.

The second challenge was the “Load & Go” Medium Wheel Loader Challenge, where competitors operated a 950Mz with an m3 bucket. The objective was to load and carry material, achieving a target payload of 9 tonnes (9,000kg). The course was around 200m, and competitors needed to make two passes to reach the 9-tonne.

The final challenge was the Mini Excavator challenge, where competitors in the Cat Next Gen 303CR handled materials softly and precisely put them into specific features around the course. Elements included manoeuvring around the tight course without touching cones, dropping balls and raising flags in designated stands.

Global Operator Challenge
The second challenge was the “Load & Go” Medium Wheel Loader Challenge.

First, second and third

At the end of the competition, the Japanese competitor Masato Imai took out the event with a fantastic performance, with our two Australians, Patrick and Nick, coming in second and third.

Chatting with the two Aussie lads about their experience, Nick shared, “This whole experience from start to finish has been amazing, from the Japanese people and experience to the quality of the event, amazing food and opportunity to have my first overseas experience here in Japan. The fact that in just three or four months, I’ll be heading to Las Vegas with Pat as the Asia Pacific finalist is just mind-blowing.

“When I decided to enter the local CavPower/Cat competition in South Australia, I didn’t think for a minute that this amazing journey and experience was about to unfold. Coming to Japan alone was massive on its own, but to now have the Global Finals to compete in, in Las Vegas has blown my mind. The Caterpillar team deserve a huge pat on the back for the quality of this event.”

Partick shared, “In the loader challenge on the first day of competition, I didn’t feel like I performed particularly well, so when I had the excavator challenge late in the day on the last day of competition, I knew I had to really step things up. Luckily for me, it went extremely well, and I felt like I nailed that challenge.”

Global Operator Challenge
The third and final challenge was the Mini Excavator challenge.

What’s next?

From the Global Operator Challenge event location in Chichibu to the streets of Harajuku and Shibuya, the Australian competitors were treated to an amazing Japanese experience – one I’m sure they won’t easily forget in a hurry. After having a chat with all the Aussie competitors before the announcements of the final results were made, it was clear that there was one consistent theme that shone through, and that was just how happy each of the competitors was that they grasped the opportunity with two hands to compete in the Cat Global Operator Challenge.

The Cat Global Operator Challenge, being held in March 2023 at CON EXPO in Las Vegas, will identify the world’s best operator from over nearly 40 countries, where more than 80 Cat dealers from around the world have held local, one-of-a-kind competitions.

We wish our two Australian Global finalists, Patrick and Nick, all the best in what will surely be yet another amazing adventure and opportunity with the Cat team.

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