THE Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA) has announced it welcomed over 1,000 visitors to its expanded stand at ScotPlant 2024, making it by far the busiest year for the organisation to date.

The SPOA’s Tenstar simulator and bespoke trailer proved a particular draw, with adults and children alike keen to try it. The organisation said it was great to see and even better was the fact that a ‘significant’ number of members made bookings there and then to take the simulator to events around the country to help attract more young people into the industry.

The SPOA has built a strong relationship with CITB in recent years and invested in plant operator, plant mechanic and crane operator apprenticeships. The CITB joined the SPOA at ScotPlant to engage with employers about apprenticeships and funding opportunities. The SPOA revealed many employers, members and non-members took advantage of the opportunity to speak to Barry Dawson, CITB engagement manager, and his colleagues, about apprenticeships. Former winners of the SPOA Apprentice of the Year Awards, Deklyn Feather and Andrew Manson, were also in attendance to answer questions from those considering an apprenticeship.

ScotPlant marked almost a full year since the SPOA announced its role in the Scottish Partnership Against Acquisitive Crime (SPAACE) and provided a fitting venue to end the tour of the ‘Machine on a Mission’ – the Police Scotland liveried JCB 3CX which has been raising awareness of plant and fuel theft. The JCB 3CX has now been retired and returned to Scot JCB for sale.

Graham Scott and Stuart Ward from Police Scotland engaged with ScotPlant visitors, listened to many personal experiences of theft, and gave advice on theft prevention methods and encouraged plant owners to sign up to Construction Watch.

Almost 100 operators took to the sticks of the Kobelco SK75 for the ‘On the Hook’ challenge, sponsored by SPOA member Molson Equipment, over the weekend. There was a real mix of people from 16 right the way through to senior operators, males and females, from all over Scotland from as far as Islay, Arran, Shetland and Orkney, as well as the mainland.

Leigh Andrews and Bart Jeziorski scored the best times after penalties on Friday and Saturday respectively. The top 40 operators from the qualifier will now compete in the Scottish Plant Operator Challenge final to be held on 27th July at Errol Airfield alongside the Morris Leslie working plant weekend.

The SPOA said it was pleased to see so many women come along to meet the team at ScotPlant, with lots of enquiries about getting involved and joining forthcoming events and activities that are planned.

Callum Mackintosh, immediate past president of the SPOA, said, “This show is possibly the best ScotPlant to date, certainly for the SPOA but I also believe for the industry. Credit must go to the organisers, in particular Mark Griston and Erin McBride (from Peebles Media Group), who, with their colleagues, organised an excellent ScotPlant and were brilliant to work with.

“The highlight for me was having past presidents Jim Anderson and Gordon Bow visit the stand and share their observations about the transformation of the Association over the last few years and how the SPOA’s presence at ScotPlant reflected that. Our ambition since 2021 has been to be at the heart of the plant community in Scotland. ScotPlant provides a platform to promote all the great initiatives and progress the association is making thanks to its executive committee, working groups and stakeholders.

“We have spent considerable time ensuring all members not only get value for money but also the trade body they deserve. The SPOA is the only organisation in Scotland representing the plant sector in its entirety. There is no better illustration of that than visitors proactively asking to join the SPOA at ScotPlant.

“This successful ScotPlant was down to a team effort and a lot of planning. Special thanks goes to all those who represented the association on the stand; Stuart Gardner, Mark Anderson, James Currie, David Jarvie, Gail McEwen and the Women in Plant working group. We were grateful that Barry Dawson and the team from the CITB gave up their time to join us, as well as our winning apprentices Andrew Manson and Deklyn Feather. Thanks to Stuart Ward and Graeme Scott from Police Scotland who once again took time to meet with members.

“The fact that the SPOA stand was an experience and not just any exhibition stand was down to our amazing suppliers from Over Hot Coals, who served hundreds of burgers; Abbie from Flat Flat White, who kept us going with plenty of coffees; and Archie Mcfarlane and the band who created a great vibe.

“Thanks to Jamie and Jay Currie and William Frame for helping dismantle the stand as the sun set on a fantastic ScotPlant.”