Having the right equipment available at the right time is a game-changer for utility contractors. And renting equipment is a pivotal part of meeting those tight timelines and staying on budget. If a vital piece of equipment is not available, workers and machines can sit idle, and an entire project could fall behind schedule or go beyond the budget.
Many contractors operate with mixed fleets, leveraging both owned and rented equipment. Supplementing or scaling fleet with rented machines gives companies the option to pay for the equipment when – and only when – they need it. The flexibility to get equipment for the exact required duration in any given project allows for some agility in capital. Firms don’t have to invest in assets that may sit idle for part of the year.
Sourcing Equipment Solutions
Equipment availability and reliability are essential in daily operations, and contractors rely on rental providers to have the right equipment at the right time. Look for equipment rental inventory that includes specialty solutions – such as shoring, shielding, and other underground excavation equipment – to address specific project needs. The inventory should have trench products that enable contractors to select the most secure excavation method for a project and provide superior protection for the crew.
As part of their solutions, a leading rental provider also needs to address trench safety training requirements. Provider teams should have certified trainers with real trench experience and who know the local, state, and federal regulatory issues that affect a job site. Look for training programs that include excavation for competent person instruction, confined space entry training, safety and fall protection, site-specific regulatory compliance and operator certifications for equipment.
Rental provider expertise should also extend to in-house engineering resources to help contractors design and implement the right trench safety solution. These engineers can help develop, design and implement site-specific shoring, shielding and other structural support systems for trench and excavation projects. They can evaluate site conditions and design safe, effective and structurally-sound shoring systems that promote worksite efficiency and practicality in the field.
Addressing Emergency Situations
A rental provider’s core mission is to deliver quality equipment on schedule and according to a project plan. While that is useful, there is so much more to project success, and rental companies can significantly impact the outcome. Contractors are expected to maintain productivity regardless of the situation.
Planned, unplanned and other events all must be handled with the utmost efficiency. Company planning processes typically address emergencies; in terms of worksite disruption and lost labor hours. The heightened stress levels of these events can also increase the potential for an accident or injury.
As part of their planning, contractors need to explore whether they can depend on their rental providers when they need them to meet unexpected needs, such as unforeseen emergencies. In these instances, time is in short supply, and personnel needs to understand who they can immediately call and depend on to support them. They need an established partner in the wings with a single point of contact they can trust to deliver in any situation, one who can help put in place contingency plans for these unfortunate events.
The rental provider of choice needs to have qualified, in-house experts available on-demand specializing in utility construction. Contractors need to rely on onsite consultation and planning to understand before any event: Who to call in the event of an emergency? What equipment and support will be needed? What are the costs going to be? And of course, the provider needs to have a track record of expeditiously delivering quality equipment that is available 24/7/365.
Equipment rental is no longer purely transactional. The leading rental companies have become the ultimate support vendors for contractors with a litany of professional consultants in addition to equipment solutions.
Creating a Safe Environment
As utility contractors manage through the COVID-19 situation, they must have multiple options when renting needed equipment, safely and efficiently. Equipment should be delivered to a worksite or available at an equipment rental provider branch. Additionally, providers should offer a “contactless” drive-up experience to pick up or drop off equipment that helps serve contractors faster and keeps them safe.
Contractors should also have many choices in how they order equipment to get what is needed without going inside a branch. These options include the ability to browse and reserve equipment online, on the phone or with mobile apps from smartphones.
Companies need to check to ensure their equipment rental provider is taking the necessary steps to safeguard their equipment is sanitary and ready for use. Measures may include pre-rental safety and mechanical checks on equipment and additional cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
If the rental provider is dropping equipment off at a worksite, be sure their drivers perform a “last touch” precautionary disinfecting of the equipment. The drivers should use a government-approved disinfectant and spray or wipe the surfaces they touched when delivering equipment.
Developing a Smarter Strategy With a Partner
Having the right equipment at the right time is the name of the game when it comes to productivity. Contractors that rent top-quality, well-maintained equipment find they boost productivity and streamline operations through onsite availability. Renting also gives companies the flexibility to free up capital and invest in other areas of the business. It’s a smart strategy that reduces overall equipment costs, and lets contractors add dollars to the bottom line.
Mark Solebello is the Northeast Sales Manager for United Rentals Trench Safety. He has been in the rental industry for 9 years focusing on Trench Safety Equipment while working throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regions.