How to align rental equipment with needs
by Tripp Brown
September 9, 2019

For organizations across market verticals—from water/wastewater and chemical to construction and power generation and more—renting equipment is a pivotal step in any project. If a vital piece of equipment is not available, that can result in idle workers and a project falling behind schedule or going beyond budget.

image 1 rental equipmentImage 1. Rental equipment is crucial for projects in numerous industries. (Images courtesy of United Rentals Fluid Solutions)

Most companies work with mixed fleets of owned and rented equipment. Owning equipment can provide long-term return on investment (ROI). When renting, organizations pay only for the equipment they need, at the time they need it. Rental contract periods can provide the flexibility to get the right equipment for a job, for any length of time. So, a firm does not invest in machines that will only see a short period of use.

When the need arises to hold, pump or filter liquid on a project or jobsite, companies not only need to look at their equipment needs, but also to explore how providers can help advance project productivity beyond the equipment.

Looking at Equipment Needs

When assessing rental providers, the evaluation should examine:

  • Can the rental company provide equipment most likely to be needed for core projects?
  • How deep is their fleet?
  • Will availability be an issue?
  • Can they provide the right solution for the application?

Having access to many different types of equipment has a major impact on project success. Rental companies typically have a broader inventory of equipment than a single organization could possibly own. This equipment includes containment, pumps and filtration along with ancillary items to tailor solutions to the situation and desired outcome. Some rental portfolios also offer on-site services such as setup and operational labor, engineering services, remote monitoring services and on-site diesel fueling.

Another benefit of renting equipment is that rental companies upgrade their fleets on a regular basis, providing access to the most advanced gear with the latest safety technologies. This gives companies an opportunity to not only work with the latest equipment models, but also become deeply familiar with them before deciding whether to buy.

To guide customers, rental companies typically provide a lead point of contact to advise them on the selection of the right equipment to address needs and practices to ensure optimal return on rentals and project productivity.

In addition to dedicated support personnel, rental providers are offering digital commerce platforms that make it easy for companies to evaluate, price and procure rental equipment and services online. Many are expanding these digital marketplaces to also include third-party and customer-owned rentals and items for purchase.

Many rental providers can deliver needed equipment on schedule according to a project plan. While that is useful, it is only table-stakes. Project managers are expected to maintain productivity regardless of the situation. Planned, unplanned, seasonal and other events all must be handled flawlessly. Companies should explore whether they can rely on their rental providers when they need them to meet unexpected needs, such as disaster response and unforeseen situations. In these instances, companies do not want to be calling around shopping for a provider.

Once projects are up and running, it can be difficult to predict equipment needs in advance. When unexpected needs arise, local support and proximity to an equipment fleet become a significant consideration. It can be costly to manage owned equipment over long distances, and even a small delay can have a ripple effect on a project timeline.

Local support also means more immediate response to rented equipment repair and maintenance. Also, some providers offer servicing programs for owned equipment with professional inspections, preventative maintenance and repairs at customer sites or rental branches.

Organizations can cut costs for maintaining equipment and periodic repairs, and reduce their need to hire and train service technicians.

Image 2. Rental equipment for industrial needsImage 2. Rental equipment for industrial needs

Beyond Equipment

Most rental companies can provide ways to contribute to their customer’s productivity beyond equipment. When assessing providers, companies should include a review of services in their evaluations. This includes offering digital tools to optimize equipment management, benchmarking key performance metrics, and advancing training and safety capabilities.

Optimize equipment management. Every minute equipment sits idle at a jobsite, it hurts the bottom line. That is why optimizing equipment usage is key to staying within budget. Leveraging digital tools, including low-cost sensors, GPS technology and telematics, and a new generation of high-powered, cloud-based fleet management software and services, makes it possible to manage both owned and rental equipment. These tools create a digital system of record, providing valuable information such as location, use and performance.

Benchmark key performance metrics. While the insights gained from digital equipment fleet management are helpful, they are largely inward looking. Benchmarking performance enables the gains generated by fleet management efficiencies to be taken to the next level. Any rental supplier that a company uses should be able to provide how its equipment is used and consumed by market segment, job type and equipment specification. Benchmarking uncovers opportunity to understand where usage problems are and can lead to corrective actions, which change operational behavior and achieve a stronger financial result.

Advance operator and safety training. The challenges of jobsite safety and productivity are something companies face every day. Companies need to look to dedicated resources that offer quality operator and safety training along with support outside the classroom such as jobsite consultation, engineered designs and safety equipment.


Today’s projects are demanding, highly complex, dynamic environments. Companies should pursue equipment partnerships that help them cut through the complexity and provide resources to get the job done safely, on time and on budget.