Technology could impact rent versus buy decision on equipmentTechnology could be the deciding factor when contractors are considering whether to rent versus buy, say two industry experts.

One key area to watch is the advent of mobile apps. Apps are now streamlining the equipment rental process for both the rental company as well as the contractor.

“Mobile apps are making the delivery and return processing of rental equipment much more efficient, as the yard staff can perform, for example, turn-around inspections – off-rent inspections – right in the yard without having to go indoors to process paperwork or access a computer,” said Andreas Hellstrom, senior director, industry and strategy, Infor Equipment Rentals.

Additionally, he said, mobile apps allow rental companies to capture photos of the equipment as it is delivered and picked-up, showing the condition of the equipment and having the customer sign off right there. This eliminates any damage disputes when the invoice shows up.

Looking at the benefits for contractors, Liam Stannard, CTO, BigRentz said, “Contractors should leverage technology that reduces the time and energy spent on procuring and managing rental equipment, empowering them to focus on what they do best and their customers’ needs.”

He added, “They can place an order, receive real-time status updates, terminate and extend their rentals, or report an issue simply at the click of a button.”

IoT Drives Rentals

However, technology is having a big impact on the rental market beyond just mobile devices and apps. Hellstrom of Infor said this growth of technology on equipment could lead some in the industry to rent instead of buy.

“With the onboard technology being developed faster than ever before on equipment, renting versus buying allows contractors to leverage the latest in technology advancements without having to make costly equipment replacements or upgrades,” he explained. “Renting equipment also ensures that you can operate equipment that complies with the latest regulations.”

Many construction companies that are making the tough decision whether to rent or buy might be swayed toward renting due to the uptick in technology.

Research from Hexa Research also shows the advent of advancing technology having an impact on the market. In particular, the IoT will boost demand as it lowers costs, and fleet-management software will provide growth opportunities as it minimizes downtime and accidents.

In order to respond, many rental companies are offering machinery with advanced technology, which is appealing to many contractors today.

Some of these advancements can track fuel consumption and send problem logs via text messages to the closest service facility. These features and more will drive the demand for rental services in the future.

“The Internet of Things and telematics provides the rental company the ability to monitor how their equipment is being used and operated in real-time,” said Hellstrom. “This, in turn, provides data that allows for new rental charging models, as well as improved maintenance.”

Contractors See Value

The benefits, however, aren’t just for the rental companies; contractors stand to benefit as well, according to Stannard of BigRentz.

“Integration of telematics is increasingly becoming more prevalent due to the value it brings to rental businesses,” said Stannard. “A few of these benefits include increased productivity, reduced maintenance issues and costs, and increased fleet safety and security. Customers also benefit from telematics through increased transparency about their rentals’ location, condition and usage.”

With all this in mind, how can construction companies approach that key question: Should I rent or buy a piece of equipment? Keeping technology in mind might be an important consideration in the future.

“I think it is important to note that we are still very early in technology adoption for the rental market,” Stannard said. “This is a high-touch business dealing with large pieces of heavy equipment that need to be moved safely and efficiently from project to project. Contractors and suppliers are still learning about how technology such as mobile, Internet of Things and analytics can help their businesses.”

From an article originally published in the CONEXPO-CON/AGG 365 newsletter. For more information, visit www.conexpoconagg.com

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