Competitors from across the continent have been competing in the 22nd annual Technology Olympics in the North-East.

Komatsu UK, a global leader in construction machinery manufacturing, staged the annual contest at its Birtley site, pitting some of the brightest talents from the plant, its supply chain, and representatives from European sister companies, against each other across a range of disciplines.

The Olympics-style competition saw employees face-off across a number of tasks in four of the factory’s main production departments: fabrication, painting, welding and performance inspection.

Each event is designed to test and showcase employees’ skill in the workplace, with an emphasis on quality and technical knowledge.

In total, 142 members of Komatsu staff participated in the games since heats opened last year, as well as 20 from supply chain businesses and four from the company’s sister plants in Europe, as bright-spark engineers battled it out for a place in the grand final in Japan, later this year.

Paul Blanchard, Komatsu UK managing director, said: “The Technology Olympics is fantastic for the company. We had 166 people involved in the competition overall and every year the contest just gets stronger and stronger.

“It’s great to be able to showcase the opportunities we provide, not just on the shop floor, but across the entire business. I think it’s very well received from the staff. It receives huge participation.

“They really get involved and it is fully appreciated by everyone. It presents them with an opportunity to show off their amazing skills and represent the organisation on a global stage in Japan.”

David Kilkenny, Senior Manager, Manufacturing, said: “The Technology Olympics is a great opportunity to show off our skills and allow our employees to contribute to the continuous learning ethic here at Komatsu UK.

“It’s a day that is totally unique and affords the opportunity to reward our employees with the recognition they deserve for all of their hard work and application.”

This year’s winners were Callum Soul for welding, David Vallely in painting, Ben Little in assembly and Billy Stafford for machine inspection.

Winners of the competition will be considered to represent KUK at the All Komatsu Competition in Japan

Callum Soul, 28, a welder from Wallsend, said: “I’ve been at Komatsu for two and a half years and this was my third time entering the competition.

“It’s a great experience, you meet lots of new people and learn lots of new skills. I enjoyed every minute.”

Ben Little, 23, an assembly team leader from Newcastle and former Apprentice with the company, said: “It’s a good, friendly competition and gets everyone really motivated.

“It’s competitive in a good way and helps you to continue improving your skills. It was my fourth attempt and people always give it a good go; it creates a real buzz around the place.”

Over 100 guests attended the event, ranging from friends and families of those competing, to representatives of supply chain organisations and staff and pupils from local colleges. Guests received a tour of the site and had an opportunity to test drive one of the company’s gigantic machines.



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