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Renting vs. Buying Aerial Work Platforms
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Specifying Aerial Lifts: Rising to the ChallengePt. 2: This PagePt. 3: Training, Maintenance Important in Aerial Work Platform PerformancePt. 4: Basics of Successful Aerial Work Platform SpecificationPt. 5: Product Focus: Aerial Lifts
Choosing whether to rent or purchase an aerial work platform can significantly impact a department's bottom line.
"If you can't use a piece of equipment two-thirds of the time, you should seriously consider renting," says Mike Disser of NES Rentals. "It's the age-old dilemma — should I rent or should I buy? I've witnessed many facility managers who have struggled with this one, who have purchased expensive equipment, and it sits there collecting dust in storage and rusts away and rarely gets used."
Managers who rent aerial work platforms must consider all the additional costs that go with the process.
"It's not the rate that most people are stumped by — it's more of the hidden costs," Disser says. "The delivery and pickup costs can exceed the rent in some cases. It's a big expense for rental companies, and the further the facility is away from the rental company, generally the higher the cost is going to be for delivery and pickup. Fueling is another hidden cost. If it's not returned full of fuel, then there's a refueling cost and generally those are above the gas pump rates."
Managers focused on buying might find the purchase price more reasonable now.
In the past, "normally you would have a price of $8,000 to buy a very entry-level lift," Ford says. "Now for $2,200, you can get a very basic lift that will help get a lot of folks off ladders. There is also used and reconditioned equipment at different price points."
In some cases, the smartest strategy is to buy one lift then rent for the rare occasions when technicians need an alternative lift.
"Getting a one-size-fits-all lift may mean that the majority of your access areas could be done with a smaller, lighter, and less expensive lift," says Jason Solhjem of Reechcraft Inc. "Focus on your most frequent access areas, then consider renting lifts for the less-common applications."