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By Thomas A. Westerkamp
Equipment Rental & Tools Article Use Policy
Renting equipment is an essential strategy for maintenance and engineering managers looking to supplement their staff's arsenal of in-house tools and technology. From generators and emergency-cooling units to specialized grounds equipment and aerial work platforms, managers have a range of issues to consider in their efforts to make a smart rental decisions.
Equipment rental offers many advantages. Costs are fixed, and they are expensed each year as they are incurred. Also, the equipment is used 100 percent. The department does not pay for downtime in the storage yard.
Unfortunately, managers often make critical mistakes in a number of areas related to the rental process that result in delays, lower productivity, higher costs, and even injury. A closer look at these mistakes can help managers make smarter decisions that will benefit their department and the bottom line.
Three of the most common equipment rental mistakes that managers make are:
Focusing on price. Managers who get just one bid or decide on the low-bid vendor could be in for trouble if the equipment leaks or will not operate, attachments do not work, or myriad other problems occur, resulting in delays and increased costs.
Not understanding needs. Failing to consider all job needs can result in costly budget overruns. For example, if local codes call for fencing around a site before work can start, failing to plan for this rental might cause a serious budget shortfall, as well as delays in starting and completing the job.
Renting the wrong equipment. Failing to identify the right equipment for the job causes added costs and more delays. The department still must pay for the useless equipment until it can be returned. Then, in addition, the department still must pay the cost of the right equipment for the full job time.
Another very common mistake managers make is not reading — or only briefly scanning — the contract before signing on the dotted line, only to find out later that the department is liable for unanticipated costs.
For example, managers must determine when the contract goes into effect, as well as what constitutes proper notification by renters that they are ending the rental period. Usually, a phone call is not enough and can result in additional months' rental charges because there is no proof of notice to terminate the rental.
A written notice via fax or postal service might be required. The rental period usually starts when the equipment leaves the rental facility storage, and it usually ends when it returns to the storage area — not when the user discontinues its use on the job.
Also, failure to follow regulations and rules from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration during use of the equipment might void the user's contract protections and warranty.
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