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Rising star in crane repair

At 23, Néo Annel, a Potain tower crane technician and newcomer to the French crane industry, discusses his entry into the crane business and his anticipation for what lies ahead.

Since starting his first tower crane after-sales technician job at Manitowoc in January 2023, Néo Annel, based in Dole, France, has garnered valuable insights into this distinctive industry. He has quickly learned the essentials for success, with plenty of opportunities for further learning and career advancement ahead.


In a conversation with Looking Up, Néo reflects on his initiation into the industry, envisions his future path, and highlights why he encourages others new to the workforce to consider this career.


Looking Up: When and how did you first get started in the crane industry?


Annel: I began my journey at Manitowoc in January 2023 after being referred by a friend who works in Potain’s after-sales department. The unique and impressive aspects of this job intrigued me right away. I discovered that this role also required an understanding of troubleshooting, which I enjoy and aligns well with my existing skills.


LU: What specific duties does your current job role entail?


Annel: I'm a tower crane after-sales technician, mainly on GME (top-slewing) tower cranes, which means I’m involved in ensuring the efficient and reliable on-site assembly of cranes. This includes unloading and positioning crane parts, coordinating the assist crane to raise and secure components, and setting up the rigging – all according to assembly procedures. I am also involved in basic operational checks of the crane, for example, the Crane Control System (CCS), to ensure proper functionality before final handover to the customer. I'm currently training to fix self-erecting tower cranes too and I've also recently started troubleshooting tower cranes. I’m excited to hone my knowledge and skills to become a well-rounded crane technician.


LU: What do you enjoy most about being a tower crane technician?


Annel: I enjoy a great deal of freedom and autonomy in my daily work routine. Also, this job is unique, involving spectacular products not commonly found elsewhere. The scale and complexity of the cranes are fascinating, and they play a vital role in construction. I find it rewarding to help put them into action on-site and keep them functioning smoothly.


LU: What do you like most about working at Manitowoc?


Annel: Being part of a global company like Manitowoc offers a dynamic work environment that I truly appreciate. The international scale of the company exposes me to a wider range of projects and potential learnings from colleagues around the world. Manitowoc also prioritizes creating favorable working conditions, which makes coming to work each day exciting. Most importantly, they equip us with the resources we need to succeed. This could be anything from having the latest tools and equipment to accessing training and support. This allows me to focus on getting the job done efficiently and effectively.


LU: How much training do you receive and on which topics? 


Annel: What I know about erecting top-slewing tower cranes I have learned primarily on the job from experienced colleagues who have guided me through the assembly process, shared best practices, and answered my questions. The pace of this hands-on learning varies from person to person, and some require a longer or shorter support phase depending on their learning speed. In any case, this mentor-based approach ensures a comprehensive understanding of crane erection procedures, safety protocols, and the intricacies of these remarkable machines.

Nevertheless, Potain has launched a new crane erector training program at the Potain Academy which awards a diploma. This initiative is driven by a French syndicate in collaboration with the world-renowned temporary workforce solutions group, Adecco. The first session has been completed, and they’re finalizing the second one for certification in France, allowing crane erectors from the area to participate. Importantly, the diploma isn’t just for Potain cranes; it's a general top-slewing tower crane certification. I think this is a great step towards professionalizing this important role in the industry!


LU: What essential skills do you need to succeed as a tower crane technician? 


Annel: Be resourceful, open-minded, and able to think critically about risks. It is imperative to make informed decisions as situations arise. Physical fitness is also essential as the job often involves lifting, climbing, and maneuvering in demanding conditions. For a tower crane technician, it's particularly useful to have electrical skills as well so you can quickly diagnose and resolve any electrical issues.


LU: What do you hope to achieve in the future with your career?


Annel: I hope to gain lots of experience in my field and become a highly accomplished crane technician, so I can participate in export missions. It would be amazing to broaden my skillset by working on diverse crane models, collaborating with colleagues and customers from different countries, and traveling! Eventually, I want to climb the career ladder, taking on more responsibilities as opportunities arise, potentially managing crane erection or repair crews and ensuring projects run smoothly.  


LU: Would you encourage other young people to consider a career in the crane industry? If so, why?


Annel: Yes, I highly recommend this job to young people. There's so much to learn and so many areas worth discovering. Every day presents a unique challenge, pushing you to think critically and develop solutions. It's a complicated and rewarding job; plus, it keeps you in great shape! It’s a satisfying career for anyone who enjoys hands-on work, problem-solving, and being part of something bigger than themselves.


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