How to Hire: Tips for sourcing efficient wheel loader operators
A strong business needs a strong team. Hiring can be tiresome but it’s worth putting in the effort to find a great new wheel loader operator. Here are some tips on making the right choice.
Finding a well-suited operator can be hard. You need someone who follows maintenance practices, abides by health and safety procedures, and who is mindful of fuel consumption. You don’t want an operator who wears out the wheel loader unnecessarily, and worse still, you don’t want an operator who causes major safety hazards to themselves and the crew.
From experience, the below tips have proved fruitful in finding the best possible operators. You can also consider these points to assess the aptitude of your current operator.
- How well do they plan and structure their work?
For a skilled operator, more than half of the skill lies in the ability to plan and structure their work in a smart and efficient way. Many operators have a big responsibility to plan and lead their own work and the difference between one who plans their work smartly and another who doesn’t, can be huge. The way to determine an operator’s ability to plan their work efficiently is to interview the applicant about their knowledge of the specific work that is performed at the company. Check references from previous employers and let the operator test-operate to see how quickly they understand and how efficiently they perform the new work.
- How good is their walkaround?
One of the key indicators of an operator’s skills occurs before they even set foot in the cab. Get the applicant to do a walkaround inspection to assess their level of attentiveness. Get them to check everything that they should naturally do before operation, from tyre inflation pressures, to leaks, fluid, and fuel levels. Astute levels of observation are vital for this role, and if they miss something, it’s a glaring sign that they may not be the right fit.
- How much care do they take when entering and exiting the cab?
Slips and falls are a common worksite injury, particularly when entering and exiting the wheel loader cab. This mostly avoidable injury can cause a massive dip in worksite productivity, alongside substantial workers’ compensation claims. To avoid this, observe the care that an applicant takes. Positive indicators are maintaining three points of contact on entry and exit and facing towards the cab when using the ladder.
- How much notice do they take of their surroundings?
Failure to recognise hazards in the machine’s surroundings is one of the most common causes of accidents. A sign that the applicant is fit for the role is if they adjust the seat and mirrors accordingly and survey the surrounding area before commencing operation.
- How smoothly do they operate?
Everyone wants a smooth operator. If possible, put your applicants through a real-life test. A short cycle loading will provide you with enough information about their ability, plus, you can measure and compare the fuel consumption of each candidate. Indicators of skill are:
- Quickly and effectively filling the entire loader bucket
- A series of fluid motions in the load and dump cycle
- Conserving fuel throughout the process
If you don’t have time to test applicants on real equipment, simulator programs can be a good assessment alternative. This simulator training can often be done by an equipment manufacturer or a technical school with an operator training program.
- Have they completed any training courses?
Another consideration when hiring an operator is whether they have attended any training courses. Some manufacturers offer these, such as the Volvo Operator Training Program. If an operator has attended one of these courses, a lot of common problems are far less likely to occur. The Volvo program trains attendees on a specific late-model wheel loader and they are tested on safe operation and maintenance – two key concerns for an employer.
Going beyond this, Volvo also offers the EcoOperator Training, an advanced course for experienced operators. This program is aimed at improving productivity, reducing fuel consumption and minimising wear and tear of the machinery – something of vital importance to the ethos of the company.
An efficient hiring process is the best investment you can make for your business. It can save you money by avoiding incompetent operators who can cause problems to your machinery, for your crew, and to themselves. But abiding by these tips will help you find the operator of your dreams!