Across the UK, renting materials handling equipment is becoming increasingly popular as a cost-effective alternative to outright purchase – not only for small fork lift trucks, but also for specialised heavy lifting equipment.
David Cooper, director of Cooper Specialised Handling, advocates taking a longer-term view when it comes to short-term hire and takes a look at how the market has changed, highlights the benefits of acquiring ‘big trucks’ on a short-term contract, and offers advice on how to get the best deal.
Traditionally, the largest heavy-duty truck generally available to hire for a few months was a 16 tonne capacity machine. What has changed over the past five years is that specialists have started introducing bigger trucks to their fleets. More and more businesses are realising it is possible to hire supersize machines like the 32 tonne Konecranes forklift now available from Cooper, and this, in turn, has fuelled demand.
Extra capacity boosts end user flexibility
The hire period is typically up to 12 months and contracts are tailored to an individual customer’s requirements, affording them much-needed flexibility. Ports, freight operators, logistics businesses and manufacturers – in fact any business that uses heavy duty forklifts, reachstackers or container handlers in its day-to-day operations – can therefore benefit from a short-term rental solution.
By helping businesses to manage fluctuations in production, short-term rental contracts can give end users a competitive edge. The extra capacity also means they can take on additional work at short notice, including contracts they wouldn’t otherwise be able to fulfil, such as lucrative short-term projects, and it helps them meet an unexpected emergency demand.
Hiring a big truck is an effective way of delaying a machine acquisition, for either an outright purchase or a short- or long-term lease arrangement. It can also provide cover for older, less reliable machines which, arguably, ought not to be working on the front line.
The fact that reachstackers can be transported complete makes them far more attractive these days. They can go straight to work, without the requirement for cranes to erect the boom and spreader, providing a fast response as well as a cost-effective solution to a particular need.
Key advantages of short-term rental
Increasingly, businesses are hiring in heavy lifting equipment to improve their ability to meet changing customer needs. Since the equipment tends to be comprised of low hours machines that are ‘as good as new’, they can be confident in this approach. High specification, fitted with a range of options, the trucks available from specialists like Cooper Specialised Handling are supplied as fully operational, which means they start earning their keep the minute they arrive on site.
Reputable suppliers will take the time to understand the application and the nature of the challenge the customer is facing before identifying key equipment needs and developing a bespoke rental solution. Based around a fixed monthly sum, which can incorporate service and maintenance support as appropriate, short-term rental deals are optimised to satisfy the customer’s specific requirements.
The major benefit of short-term rental is that there is no requirement for capital investment by the end user. Businesses can therefore manage their operational costs more easily, ensuring they can satisfy a requirement for extra capacity with minimal impact on capital expenditure and long-term cash flow.
Getting the best deal
Anyone looking to hire heavy lifting equipment for a few months should seek out modern, quiet and low emission trucks, which are LOLER certified and, ideally, specified with the latest software and electronic hardware. Quality, low hours, low age machines will only be available from suppliers that have a dedicated rental fleet and are committed to rotating stock regularly.
Some providers will offer part exchanges on an 'opportunity basis' whilst they find buyers for your outgoing machine, but Cooper does not advocate such a policy. It takes the view that big trucks offered for short-term hire should be part of a dedicated fleet and supplied with appropriate support. The company has therefore invested some £4 in recent years to create the UK’s most comprehensive specialised equipment rental fleet. Machines available for hire include 45 tonne laden reach stackers, a 25 tonne lift truck with fixed frame for either fork lift or 20ft box handling and a dedicated unladen Konecrane 108 empty reach stacker.
Obtaining a high quality machine
Specialists in the heavy lifting rental market will always supply quality trucks that are subject to a rigorous pre-hire check. They employ highly qualified, experienced engineers who prepare their machines to the highest standards. Engineers inspect wheels, tyres and steer axle bearings to ensure they meet safety requirements, and all fork, mast and carriage controls are routinely tested. Pipes and fixings are examined to make sure none have worked loose. As well as checking engine oils and hydraulics lubricants, and topping them up as necessary, engineers make sure that each truck is cleaned thoroughly prior to delivery to the customer.
Businesses may only require a heavy duty forklift truck or reachstacker for a short period, but if it breaks down and they fall behind schedule or fail to meet deadlines, they could face stiff financial penalties. For added peace of mind, the advice is to work with a reputable supplier that can incorporate maintenance support into the contract so that, if you encounter a problem, a trained service engineer can be on hand at the earliest opportunity.
When businesses are up against a tight schedule, the sooner the rental equipment is put to work, the better. Be sure to ask what advance notice you need to give to get the machine you want. Look into lead times too, because not all providers offer next day delivery anywhere in the UK.
Increasingly, short-term rental is opening up opportunities for a variety of businesses working in heavy industries. In the long run, it pays to seek specialist advice to ensure you can hire quality equipment and that the extra capacity is readily available at a sensible price.
Find out about the lengths that Cooper Specialised Handling goes to when preparing big trucks for short-term rental by clicking the link to this new video: https://vimeo.com/142067011