By Tripp Brown
For organizations involved in water, wastewater and stormwater projects, renting equipment can be a pivotal part of any endeavor. If an essential piece of equipment is not available, that can result in idle workers and a project falling off schedule and extending beyond budget.
Working with fleets that have both owned and rented equipment is how many municipalities and companies operate. When renting, organizations pay only for the equipment they need, at the time they need it. Rental equipment contract periods provide the flexibility to get the right equipment for a project for any length of time, so an entity doesn’t invest in buying machines that will only see a short period of use and then sit idle.
When the need develops to contain, transfer, or treat fluid on a project or worksite, organizations not only need to look at their equipment needs but also explore how providers can help advance project productivity beyond the equipment. In one-off situations or when the unexpected happens, having a contingency plan is paramount to ensure a successful outcome.
Addressing Equipment Requirements
When assessing rental providers, the evaluation should examine: Can the rental company provide equipment most likely to be needed for core projects? How deep is their fleet? Will availability be an issue? Do they have the expertise to provide the right solution for the application? Do they provide the service to install and maintain the temporary solution?
Having access to many different types of equipment has a major impact on project success. Rental companies have a broader inventory of equipment than a single organization could possibly own. This equipment includes containment, pumps, and filtration along with ancillary items to tailor solutions to the customer’s unique situation and desired outcome. Some rental portfolios also offer onsite services such as setup and operational labor, engineering services, remote monitoring service, and onsite diesel fueling.
Another benefit of renting equipment is that rental companies upgrade their fleets on a regular basis, delivering access to the most advanced gear with latest safety technologies. This provides organizations an opportunity to not only work with the very latest equipment models but also become deeply familiar with them before deciding whether to buy.
To guide customers, rental companies typically provide a lead point of contact to advise them on the selection of the right equipment to address needs and practices to ensure optimal return on rentals and project productivity. In addition to dedicated support personnel, rental providers are offering digital commerce platforms that make it easy for municipalities and companies to evaluate, price, and procure rental equipment and services online.
Most every rental provider can deliver basic equipment on schedule according to a project plan. While that is useful, it is only table-stakes. Project managers are expected to maintain productivity regardless of the situation. Planned, unplanned, seasonal, and other events all must be handled flawlessly. Organizations need to explore whether they can rely on their rental providers when they need them to meet unexpected needs such as disaster response and unforeseen situations. In these instances, municipal and industrial professionals do not want to make multiple calls around shopping for a provider and waiting for a response. They need an established partner in the wings — a single point of contact with a rental company they can trust to deliver in any situation.
Once projects are up and running, it can be difficult to predict equipment needs in advance. When unexpected needs arise, local support and proximity to equipment fleet become a significant consideration. It can be costly to manage owned equipment over long distances; even a small delay can have a ripple effect on a project timeline.
Local support also means more immediate response on rented equipment repair and maintenance. Also, some rental providers offer servicing programs for owned equipment with professional inspections, preventative maintenance schedules, and repairs at customer sites or rental branches. Organizations can cut costs for maintaining equipment and periodic repairs, and reduce their need to hire and train service technicians.
Boosting Worksite Productivity
Rental companies need to provide ways to contribute to their customer’s productivity beyond equipment. When assessing rental providers, organizations should include a review of services in their evaluations. This includes offering digital tools to optimize equipment management, benchmarking key performance metrics, advancing training and safety capabilities, and supporting media needs.
Manage and track utilization. Every minute equipment sits idle at a worksite, it costs an entity money and hurts its bottom line. That’s why optimizing equipment utilization is key to staying within budget. Leveraging digital worksite management tools, including low-cost sensors, GPS technology, and telematics, and a new generation of high-powered, cloud-based fleet management software and services make it possible to manage both owned and rental equipment. These tools create a digital system of record, providing valuable information such as location, use, and performance.
Benchmark against industry peers. While the insights gained from digital equipment fleet management are incredibly helpful, they are largely inward-looking. Benchmarking performance against industry peers enables the gains generated by fleet management efficiencies to be taken to the next level. Any rental supplier that an organization uses should be able to provide how its equipment is utilized and consumed by market segment, job type, and equipment specification. Benchmarking uncovers opportunity to understand where utilization problems are and can lead to corrective actions which change operational behavior and achieve a stronger financial result.
Support operator and safety training. The challenges of worksite safety and productivity are something entities face every day. Lectures with minimal classroom engagement are not enough. Organizations need to look to dedicated resources that offer quality operator and safety training along with support outside the classroom — like worksite consultation, engineered designs, and safety equipment.
Address media needs. Today’s ever-changing requirements for discharge permitting and potable water filtration bring a new set of challenges. Beyond renting the physical asset, it is vital to have a critical plan on the media that is required to perform the filtration on potable and grey water. The rental company that provides the equipment also needs to be able to provide the end user with the activated carbon or resin at a moment’s notice to exchange and perhaps regenerate the media. Having a service plan in place and local inventory can be the difference between and successful project and a failed one.
Aligning Equipment with the Worksite
Today’s projects are demanding, highly complex, dynamic environments. Municipalities and companies need to pursue equipment partnerships that help them cut through the complexity and provide resources to get the job done safely, on time and on budget. Aligning equipment with the worksite can advance these important organizational goals.
About the Author
Tripp Brown resides in Mobile, AL, serving as the District Manager for United Rentals® Fluid Solutions. He has served as a Produced Development Manager with United Rentals as Team Lead in designing and implementing the remote monitoring capabilities of contain, transfer, and treat equipment throughout the Fluid Solutions Business Unit. He prides himself in providing the right solution for the customer and the environment they work in.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of United Rentals. This article is for informational purposes only and generally discusses common industry processes and procedures. This article is not intended to be a substitute for situation-specific professional/expert advice, instruction, and supervision. United Rentals recommends consulting with engineering and legal experts regarding the rules and regulations associated with the topics discussed.