Behind the wheel of a $1.25 million machine
Darren Brown has been driving straddles at Lyttelton Port for eight years. He makes it look easy but when he began he felt the challenge of mastering the $1.25 million machine.
“When I first hopped into a straddle I thought this is totally out of my comfort zone. But after a week in the straddle – time in the seat – you start to get your confidence up.” Straddles pick up and deliver the containers in Lyttelton Port’s Container Terminal. Drivers receive instructions on the screen in their cab about what container to pick up and where to deliver it in the Container Terminal. When trucks come in loaded with a container, a straddle will pick up the container from it and deliver it to where it is to be stored in the yard. They take containers to and from the ships as they are being loaded and unloaded.
There are 24 straddles and when a number of them are manoeuvring between the container stacks, to and from the trucks and past the cranes it’s like a dance of huge multi-million dollar machinery – and riveting to watch.
“You know when you get a good flow going. The straddles are flowing well – the crane drivers are emptying and loading the ship quickly. You can feel the flow.”
LPC Straddle Drivers are part of the Port’s 24/7 operations. The drivers work shifts and get to know each other pretty well.
“The best thing is the people. Great people here. The camaraderie between us all makes it a good job,” Darren grins. “And I get to play with the big toys.”