To avoid mistakes in buying or renting lift equipment, it pays to revisit specification strategies before making a decision. Besides reviewing current standards, safety requirements, and supplier literature, managers also need to communicate needs to suppliers. OSHA and ANSI standards are excellent places to start because they were developed and updated based on safety history and existing and new technology. The standards offer guidelines for training, operations and maintenance based on years of experience in the industry.
Getting several suppliers' input in the decision-making process is also essential because they are up to date with the new technology. Managers can also discuss the way the manufacturer has tested its products to verify they met current standards.
A rental or lease can be advantageous for one-time projects or when long idle times occur between uses. But caveats apply to renting or leasing equipment. Before signing the contract, it is essential for managers to read the terms carefully and ensure they understand it fully and that it covers all the necessary aspects of the rental or lease.
Managers need to make sure the contract is clear and specific about a few key points. When does the lease period start and end? Does it cover delivery and pickup by the supplier? Does the manufacturer supply a trained, certified operator with the equipment? Who does the maintenance? How quickly is a replacement available if the equipment fails during use? Who pays for maintenance? How can the manager notify the supplier that the department no longer needs the equipment?
This last point is very important. For example, users might think a simple phone call ended the rental period and ended costs, only to find out that the money meter kept running because of a miscommunication, or the supplier representative taking the call forgot to relay the message to someone in accounting.
Usually, documentation, such as e-mail, fax or other written notification is best. But the smartest move is to agree before agreeing to rent or lease what constitutes acceptable notice.
Along with the lift itself, the department also must receive liability, workers compensation and automobile insurance from the supplier.
Whether renting or purchasing, managers would be wise to get references from the supplier and contact them. This step includes visiting the reference's site to observe the equipment in action, if possible, and to ask them about advantages and disadvantages of the equipment and the supplier.
The safest, most productive and cost-effective lift equipment option best meets a department's specific needs. The least expensive equipment is not necessarily the best option. It might be lowest in first cost, but if it does not provide all the lift functions and fit all work site considerations safely, the manager might end up paying more to get the job done.
Thomas A. Westerkamp is a maintenance and engineering management consultant and president of the work management division of Westerkamp Group LLC.
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