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Not all hire companies are the same - there is a difference!

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At A-Plant, we regularly talk about the size of our business, the range of products and services we offer, the added value we can bring through the solutions we provide, and our competent experienced people – but we rarely talk publicly about what we believe in and how that makes us different to our competitors.

Here’s an insight into some of those beliefs which we hope will help you when choosing your hire supplier.

Distribution network: local versus national

There’s a recent trend for having a national distribution centre (a central hub) with a network of multi-service centres, superstores and/or regional distribution centres. Operators with this structure can spend considerable time moving assets around rather than focusing on their customers’ needs at local level. Logistically, this can be distracting and potentially takes the operation farther away from customers’ sites.

Some operators with this business model transport equipment overnight and deliver first thing in the morning. Customers are expected to be on site at the crack of dawn to accept delivery and, if the equipment isn’t right (for whatever reason), it can’t be rectified quickly, which causes precious time delays - and we all know that time is money!

At A-Plant, we believe in continually investing in new hire equipment so there is always enough of it on the shelf in our local service centres, ready for hire. That way we can ensure customers have immediate access to the equipment they need. No waiting around for next day, or longer, deliveries to arrive from a remote distribution or repair centre.

We believe all of our service centres are part of their local community. This means employing, training and developing local managers, fitters, drivers and apprentices. We actively encourage our teams to support local events and initiatives, wherever they can. We cultivate providing local service with national coverage.

As the largest rental company in the UK, we have a national network of service centres, with each one committed to building and developing local relationships - understanding their individual customers and providing them with local solutions.

We believe every service centre needs a fully competent team of colleagues who are experts in hiring, testing, repairing and moving our equipment around. By having local people involved in the process, we can provide excellent service and faster response times to meet our customers’ needs.

To deliver and collect our equipment, we use new smaller engine vehicles that are fuel efficient. All of our drivers are fully trained to meet the latest national and regional driving requirements, and driving best practice. Being local, our drivers are also very knowledgeable of their surrounding regions and localities. Our aim is not to move huge quantities of equipment around the UK from service centre to workshop, to distribution centre and back, on a daily basis. This seems costly and not environmentally friendly, especially when many customers only want to hire equipment for a short period of time.

Repair and maintenance

With the national distribution (central hub) structure, hire companies send their equipment for repair and maintenance to remote workshops or distribution centres. The likelihood of the same people working on the equipment, knowing it inside and out, is small. Some of the TLC gets lost in the process. Additionally, equipment is more likely to be out of operation for longer spells and isn’t as readily available as it would be in a local service centre.

We don't believe in moving equipment out of the local service centre to some remote repair or distribution centre, then moving it all the way back to the local service centre. This generates a huge carbon footprint and removes equipment that should be available for hire off the shelf for long periods of time.

Allowing many customers to use and share this equipment over the course of its life means the equipment can be used by many people and will be fully utilised to get work done. If each piece of equipment is energy efficient in the first place, and is then maintained and transported in the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way possible, the value and environmental advantages are magnified.

New or used equipment

Not all hire companies buy 100% brand new equipment. Some purchase nearly new and second hand items which they then hire to their customers.

We believe in buying 100% new equipment to send out on hire – not second hand or reconditioned equipment. By doing this we ensure it’s the latest model – with the latest innovation and safety features.

By substantially investing in new equipment on an ongoing basis, we can guarantee our equipment will meet the latest legislation requirements, is environmentally friendly, and is the most productive and reliable model available to use.

We don't believe in buying second hand equipment and refurbishing it, so that it can be recapitalised and presented to the customer as “new” hire equipment. This approach does not continually improve the reliability and environmental impact of our activities, whilst it may allow the average age of hire equipment to be presented as being “young”.

Hire versus buy

This is a big subject, and a whole separate blog post, so watch this space! In the meantime, needless to say - we believe that hiring equipment is an inherently more cost effective, value adding, risk reducing and environmentally friendly way of using equipment - as opposed to buying and owning that equipment in the first place.

Working with suppliers and market leading manufacturers

All of our hire equipment is sourced from our long standing, market leading manufacturers and suppliers. This means we have the latest models available to help ensure our customers can get the job done. By working with, and staying loyal to, our long standing suppliers, we ensure we get access to, and can influence, the design and nationality of the equipment we hire out.

We believe in maintaining our equipment in line with the manufacturers’ requirements and have developed a central asset management tracking system to allow us to monitor and manage the maintenance and repair cycle. This, coupled with the training and competence of our fitters and drivers, helps A-Plant maintain its position as the UK’s leading national player but with a very strong local and environmental commitment.

These are some of our core beliefs and we’d really like to know what your thoughts and experiences are. Please post your comments below.

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