Liftinghero Silvia: Her MK gives her wings
Her name is Guilhieyde – "Call me Silvia, this is easier to remember," she tells us in a nearly accent-free French with a slightly singing Portuguese accent – and she loves challenges. Her job as a crane driver allows her to meet an unknown world – construction sites with a view from a height of 30 meters! However, before she could take up this rather male-dominated profession, she had to prove her driver's skills as well as her tenacity.
From Brazil to Northern France
Silvia was born 34 years ago in Brazil and spent most of her youth in Rondonópolis, a town in the state of Mato Grossa, in the central east of the country, a few kilometres from the border with Bolivia. At the age of 22, Silvia headed for Europe and especially Spain, where she rejoined her mother who had seized a professional opportunity there. Silvia worked then in a furniture shop where she provided advice to customers choosing tailor-made solutions in consideration of the architectural restrictions of the location of every piece of furniture. Afterwards she left for Italy, for Rome, where she learned the language and spent a few months doing humanitarian work in a reception centre for disadvantaged people. After this rich human experience, she returned to Spain for a short time and packed her luggage for Northern France, for Valencienne, not far from the Belgian border. And there, friends working in the lifting technology, made her want to approach this profession.
Her beginnings in the world of lifting technology
Silvia passed the CACES (certificate of fitness to drive) for crane drivers and was then entrusted with the control of the brand-new MK 88-4.1, which the company Société Valenciennoise Montage & Maintenance (SVMM) just bought. The family company in Hauts-de-France, managed by the Brouillard brothers, has been specialised in lifting, steel construction, material transport and crane hire since 1995. The MK 88-4.1 completed a machine park consisting mainly of fifteen mobiles cranes from 30 to 250 tonnes. "I had never before driven a crane and Liebherr's MK appealed to me immediately. I saw the crane for the first time at the Bauma in Munich in 2019. The MK is very impressive and I adore it. The managing directors of SVMM had confidence in me and allowed me to discover this profession. Currently, I'm only in charge of crane control, but I would like to obtain my truck driving licence as soon as possible to be able to drive the MK also on the road." Silvia has operated the MK 88-4.1 since this summer and the more crane operations she tackles, the more she likes this profession.
Construction sites – Cultural crossroads
If you look at her selfies, you can immediately see that Silvia loves her job. "At the beginning, I was concerned about the atmosphere with the guys on the construction sites. The first contacts are sometimes a bit strange. The workers are not used to see a woman controlling a crane and wonder if I can cope with the task. However, after the first operation with the hook, they are very quickly reassured and afterwards do everything to help me with my task. In addition to French and Portuguese, my first language, I can speak Spanish, Italian and also English. Thus, it is very easy for me to communicate and create a climate of confidence on the construction sites. This enhances safety, too. This exchange is very enriching and allows me to use my languages and thus not forget them. And then you often meet the same people again on different construction sites of the region. You get to know each other better and I also regularly bring along "pains au chocolat" for breakfast. Silvia considers these instants as precious moments inviting for exchange and sharing of experiences.
A job with no room for routine
The kind and duration of the jobs Silvia is entrusted with are very diverse. "We often have up to three different operating sites on the same day. But then, the MK sometimes stays at the same location for several weeks for a longer working period. I work on building renovation sites, monuments such as churches, sometimes on industrial plants or on construction sites where I carry out the preparation for the reinforcement and installation of formwork panels. The work rhythm is generally high. Despite my short experience, I already managed to transport up to 140 palettes in a single day – and I'm really proud of that. I also change my place of work because sometimes I control the crane from the cabin and sometimes at ground level with the remote control to ensure a higher precision if the construction site configuration requires it." One thing is certain: Silvia knows no routine in her job, which promises her new adventures every day.
"In the cabin of the MK, I feel at home"
With working days that can begin at 5 o'clock in the morning and others that can end only very late in the evening, Silvia spends a lot of time in the cabin. "Liebherr has provided everything to enable the crane driver to work comfortably and very safely. My bosses connected a microwave in the switch cabinet. Thus, I can heat up my lunch – this is very comfortable. And we plan to install soon a coffee maker for hot coffee." Silvia takes great care of her workplace. "This enables me to feel at ease in the cabin and I'm convinced that working with clean material also contributes to the good image our customers get of our company." Silvia is also in charge of the lubrication of the crane – a task she carries out with great assiduousness.
When great heights become an obsession
"I also love this job because of the unobstructed view and the feeling of flying." And Silvia really has this passion. In her spare time, she regularly takes a plane to get to airy heights and goes parachuting. "I jump in tandem from a plane flying at 3000 m altitude. I love the strong sensations of a free fall and the jump with the parachute."
With the head in the clouds, we leave Silvia who proves that she is indeed up to the challenges she takes up every day when operating her MK.