Volvo excavators: The operator’s choice
25-year-old Lewis Jarman from Bentley in Suffolk wanted to be a digger driver for as long as he could remember. Today, he shares his love for his work and his Volvo EC220E excavator with a growing social media audience from around the world.
Lewis Jarman lives and breathes excavators – as do his family. Lewis’s father Mark and sister Hannah also operate excavators and the Jarman family have developed a reputation across the construction industry for their passion, knowledge, and skill.
“I’ve had a love for it from when I was a young kid. My dad is a digger driver, as was his dad too. On a couple of occasions, I was allowed to sit inside a cab and ever since then I knew what I wanted to do,” Lewis explained.
“You can do almost every job with an excavator, so you’re always busy and it’s satisfying to see what you’ve achieved and think, yeah, I did that. I also used to be a big gamer and when you sit in there it’s like a big game controller. You just do what you do with your hands.”
Aged 16, Lewis embarked on a three-year CITB apprenticeship, studying at the National Construction College in Bircham Newton, Norfolk, and has worked at a couple of different civil engineering contractors to broaden his knowledge of the construction industry. Throughout that time, Lewis gained exposure to several brands of excavators, but Volvo has always been his favourite.
A firm favourite
“We didn’t always get to drive Volvos as we had a mix of brands, but whenever we did, we were really happy because they’re such good machines,” he said.
When asked what he loved most about Volvo excavators, Lewis cited the attention to comfort and user-friendliness in the design.
“You can tell Volvo is always thinking about the operator and making it as easy as possible for them. Everything is within an arm’s reach, there are lots of shortcuts you can do with the buttons and big screen, and there’s great visibility, especially with the cameras. It’s just a comfortable place to be for the most part of the day,” he said.
Today, Lewis is happy to drive his excavator of choice, a Volvo EC220E crawler excavator from SMT GB, as does his father.
“When you’re spending eight or nine hours a day in there, it helps to have a machine that you love, so that you’re going to look forward to going to work and do your best,” Lewis said.
As to why Lewis wanted an EC220E specifically, it was all about versatility. “The 20-22 tonne class is ideal for our civil engineering work and especially when you add a tiltrotator, you can do near enough everything,” he added.
Representing Great Britain
Outside of work, Lewis is a regular at tradeshows and other construction industry events. For him, construction equipment is a hobby and interest, as well as his job. Visiting Hillhead one year, he excelled in an operating challenge on the SMT GB stand and qualified to represent Great Britain at the Operators Club Final in 2019.
Competitors in the 2019 Operators Club Final at the Volvo Customer Center in Sweden raced against the clock to pick up tyres from the ground and stack them on top of an oil drum with time penalties awarded for mistakes.
Organised by Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE), the event is known as the construction industry’s toughest test of precision operation. Machine drivers from across Europe and beyond compete in a series of unconventional excavator, wheeled loader, and articulated hauler tasks for the title of best operator.
That year, the Operators Club Final was held at the Volvo CE Customer Center in Eskilstuna, Sweden, which broadened Lewis’s exposure to the latest Volvo innovations and cemented his love for the brand.
“It was a really good experience. I got to have a go on loads of different types of machines that I wouldn’t normally get to go on and met some great people that I still speak to today,” he said.
Lewis takes great pride in his work and is committed to continuously honing his skills. Watching other operators is a good way to learn, but that is not always possible, which is where social media can help.
In 2020, Lewis started a TikTok account @lewisjarmanwork sharing footage of his everyday work with his Volvo EC220E, which has now amassed almost 120,000 followers. He also posts regularly on Instagram @lewisjarmanwork and to the family YouTube channel Jarman’s Dirt Craft.
Lewis's TikTok account brings followers into the cab of his Volvo EC220E excavator to experience the everyday life of an operator.
“90% of what I know now is from watching good operators. There is a lot to learn from older operators as they know the tricks of the trade but there are things they can learn from younger operators too – and social media has brought together a big community of plant operators,” he said.
He sees social media not only as a great way for existing operators to pick up tips, but for those thinking of getting into the industry to learn more about what it involves day to day. For example, one of Lewis’s colleagues recently showed his TikTok to pupils during a school visit to open their eyes to the potential of a career in civil engineering.
“There’s an issue now with not many young people coming into the industry, but I think that engaging them on social media and showing off the exciting new technologies we have and how it’s like playing Xbox will appeal to them,” he explained.
In this respect, Lewis is proving a valuable advocate, not just for Volvo, but for the entire civil engineering industry.