Daniel Näther has yet another load on his hook. Concrete, steel, glass, timber? It is bound to be something heavy and bulky. Now is not a good time to speak on the phone, but he promises to call back. Soon afterwards, the phone rings. ‘Hello, it’s Daniel here.’ Daniel is a crane operator through and through. He lives for his job.
Daniel actually came from a different background and entered the crane business by accident. His old job was getting on his nerves and a friend advised him to sign up with system service provider Fricke-Schmidbauer. That was in 2005. Today he is 44 years old and an old hand, but does not claim to be the finished article, as he emphasises: ‘I grow with every assignment I complete. There is always more to learn. And every day brings new challenges that need to be met. That is the beauty of this job. And that’s something that doesn’t change, even after 15 years.’
Being a crane operator – more than a job
How was the transition from lorry to crane? We’d love to know. After all, you don’t become a crane operator overnight. ‘Of course, it took me a while, but I was determined to do it and luckily the training courses were very good. My first PALFINGER crane was the PK 42502, followed by the PK 92002 SH in 2016. That was a giant leap and, at the same time, an opportunity to grow further. Because it also brought an increase in the possible applications, and the reliability and versatility of the PALFINGER equipment impressed me from the very start.’
Daniel goes into raptures – especially when he talks about the many specialist operations that made him surpass himself at Fricke-Schmidbauer. ‘Once,’ he recalls, ‘we had to replace the filter system at a waste incineration plant. I hadn’t had the PK 92002 SH long at that point and had to manoeuvre the crane through an extremely narrow entrance first of all, before setting it up inside some steel scaffolding. That meant threading the crane arm through between the steel beams – and doing all of that without interrupting operations.’ The spectacular thing about work like this is mostly the tight spaces, challenging distances or assembly work at awkward angles that Daniel – also thanks to PALFINGER – is able to respond to with great precision, care and manoeuvrability.
PK 135.002 TEC 7 – lifting capacity meets loading capacity
Talking of development, what do you need in order to be a good crane operator? ‘Being in good shape physically and mentally is the key to everything. You should be calm, cool and able to concentrate very well. This is no place for rushing and stress. In addition, you need lots of experienceto be able to assess situations and requirements correctly and a healthy measure of caution and respect in view of the dimensions of the equipment that you are operating. Last but not least, you need a good team around you, because operating a crane is not a solo act.’
Perfected Performers of PALFINGER
You co-founded the Perfected Performers of Palfinger (PPoP) in 2017. What’s it all about? ‘We wanted to create a link between users and the manufacturer. It has already proven a great success. From the very beginning, there was a lot of positive feedback from operators, business owners, schedulers and also from the Group. The PPoP are a closed, independent Facebook group run by private users that allows members to swap stories, ask technical questions and comment on special operations.’
Does it also address safety issues? ‘Safety is the top priority. But that almost goes without saying when you are working on this scale.’
The all-important question
How would you describe PALFINGER in one sentence? ‘A partner that I can rely on.’
Thanks for talking to us. And all the best with your new piece of work equipment!