[Job Story] Sany Makes Excavator Driving for Wheelchair Users Possible: the Story of Christian Röhrs

For the first time, Klarmann Bau- und Landmaschinen from Westerstede organized the handicapped-accessible conversion of a SY26U mini excavator from Sany, so that entrepreneur Christian Röhrs from Bergen in Lower Saxony will be able to get in and out comfortably in the future and thus better pursue his business.

Markus Tackenberg, sales manager at Klarmann Bau- und Landmaschinen says:

“We like challenges, taking care of special requests and customers in special situations. It gives him pleasure when he can successfully advise and support customers like Christian Röhrs with his yard and excavator service from Bergen in the district of Celle in Lower Saxony. The passionate excavator operator has been paraplegic for more than 20 years after an accident – but has been self-employed for 8 years with a company for excavator work in earthworks, yard and garden construction. Röhrs had already contacted various suppliers of compact excavators in order not only to find a new mini-excavator suitable for his tasks, but also to get one with a lift as an access aid. He was at the right address with Marcus Tackenberg, who already had experience with appropriate solutions for the handicapped-accessible conversion of agricultural machinery and trucks.”

Klarmann Bau- und Landmaschinen from Westerstede is a broad-based machinery dealer that has been selling concrete machines of the Putzmeister brand, which belongs to the Sany Group, for many years. Since the beginning of 2020, Klarmann has now also been a successful dealer for Sany construction machinery and is supported in this task by Area Sales Manager Markus Oberzier.

Long project duration – successful end

At the beginning, the project did not look promising, the employers’ liability insurance association could not help with specifications or information for this request, a Dutch company did not get along with the conversion and finally sent the excavator back. But the company ParaCar Mobility from Bad Salzungen succeeded in implementing a solution they had already developed for large agricultural machines accordingly for the compact Sany machine – which was a great challenge in view of the very different dimensions. But with great commitment, the company succeeded in adapting the system to the compact machine. In the process, the machine configuration of the SY26U was not changed, only a few adjustments were made: The attachment of the lift, the addition of some grab handles, the use of a special valve technology and the relocation of the ignition lock were necessary to realize the comfortable entry aid.

Excavators equipped in this way are now available to buy exclusively from Sany.

“This solution, which is available exclusively from us, is not only suitable for people with paraplegia, but also for anyone who has problems with their back, hips or knees. This would now certainly allow some machine operators to maintain their work for longer despite health impairments,”

explains Sany Area Sales Manager Markus Oberzier.

An interesting and important approach, especially from the point of view that the labor market for machine operators has been very tight for years and that the employers’ liability insurance association also covers the costs for this TÜV-certified lift system.

“Excavator driving is my hobby!”

Christian Röhrs, a trained locksmith and agricultural machinery mechanic, is a hands-on man who masters his particular situation with creativity and a good dose of humor. “I have always been interested in agricultural and construction machinery and am good with them,” he explains. He used to be an agricultural machinery mechatronics engineer, but today he is theoretically a pensioner, but runs an excavator business as a sole proprietor on the side. It all started with the forest that belongs to the farm he lives on with his wife. He wanted to thin it out and bought his first used excavator for the purpose.

“As a wheelchair user, you can’t sit around all day, but on the other hand, your options for activities are also limited. I like to move things around and I like to work outside, so excavating is just right for me. Excavating is my hobby and my job.”

After thinning his own forest, more and more orders suddenly came in, so a trade was registered and a little later a second, very small excavator and some attachments were purchased. Even though he usually has contractor friends with him on construction sites, it became more and more difficult over the years to get on the excavator using only his own arms and with the support of others. Now, with the new Sany excavator, this heavy physical effort is history for Röhrs and the people around him, and the entrepreneur is less dependent on the support of others.

And as soon as Christian Röhrs sits in his excavator, all is right with the world for him:

“Here I sit even more relaxed and better than in my wheelchair and can work and experience something different every day.”

He describes his work as a machine operator as very varied: he excavates foundations, unearths soakaways, mows and maintains ditches, works in the forest with the felling grapple or lays house connections. He always transports his excavator to the construction site himself, but can always rely on the support of customers or employees when loading or unloading the machine or tying it down.

Sany dealer quickly found a solution

Christian Röhrs had already informed himself about Sany machines in the past. For the new acquisition of his excavator, he initially wanted to remain loyal to his previous brand, but would have had to wait for very long delivery times and therefore turned to Sany dealer Klarmann. When he was offered the SY26U, he was immediately convinced by the well-equipped compact machine and bought it almost immediately. Even though the conversion took much longer than originally thought, a total of 6 months, Röhrs is now very happy with this solution, which was supported by the Employer’s Liability Insurance Association.

Getting in and out of the car is now much easier for him. He also says that advances in technology make it easy for him to operate an excavator even as a paraplegic: You no longer need foot control, and you can use the joystick to control all of the excavator’s functions by hand, and put down and pick up attachments. This means that there are no limits to what he can do on the excavator. On the first day of using the SY26U with lift, Christian Röhrs sees his hopes confirmed: “Getting on with the lift works perfectly. I am really very satisfied.” After this relaxed start, the day’s tasks were also easy to complete.

Newsroom of HeavyQuip Magazine
Newsroom of HeavyQuip Magazinehttps://www.heavyquipmag.com/
HQM is the digital magazine focused on Construction, Earthmoving, Lifting, Mining, Heavy-duty Farm equipment for the global market