Equipment Type

Is Rental Right?

April 04, 2012

Rod Sutton is editorial director of Construction Equipment magazine. He is in charge of editorial strategy and writes a monthly column for the magazine, The Sutton Report. He has more than 30 years in construction journalism, and has been with Construction Equipment since 2001.

The equipment-management profession is evolving, as we’ve discovered through The Management Challenge series.

One area of responsibility, machine acquisition, requires some adjustment in practice. Not only have capital funds been tighter, but machine compliance issues have become a regular part of the process. Equipment managers have to field machines that comply with various emissions requirements, depending on the location of the project.

Off-road machines are being redesigned to accommodate Tier 4-Interim engines, and new engine technology is under the hood. Aftertreatment devices and urea are the two most discussed maintenance areas among fleet managers, and they are rightly concerned. There is simply not enough history on the technology to give an asset manager confidence in how the engines will affect maintenance management practices.

OEMs assure that hardware and software will function just fine, but managers experience or hear stories of individual failures. New emissions technology will be a headache until enough time has passed to provide the experience needed to make accurate decisions on maintenenace and support.

In California, where emissions regulations have been in effect for years, rental firms and distributors have been touting their ability to field compliant machines, maintain and support the iron, and carry the costs of compliance. So far, few of those costs have been broken out and passed along to renters.

Asset managers: Is this a viable option? Why wouldn’t a fleet turn to a rental option in order to minimize the risk inherent in new-engine technology? Why not let someone else worry about maintenance and warranty issues? If you use non-compliant equipment on a job that specifically requires it, is it worth risking the fine when you could rent a compliant machine?

We need this conversation. Please comment below, and let me know the pros and cons of renting compliant machines.

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