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Maintaining your competitive edge through short term equipment hire
09 March 2015
Explosive growth in the warehousing sector during the past decade has put the focus firmly on the ability to deliver bespoke materials handling solutions.
As logistics companies look for ways to improve productivity while also reducing their cost base, hiring equipment on short term demand driven basis has an increasingly important role to play in maintaining a competitive edge.
"The face of short-term hire (STH) is changing as businesses demand ever-more flexible and tailored customer centric solutions,” says Allan Parsons, National Rental Manager at Briggs Equipment, the UK’s leading independent specialist in short-term materials handling solutions.
"As customers strive for increased flexibility, contracts without onerous penalties for early termination or the return of machines which are surplus to requirements are fast becoming not just desirable, but an outright business necessity.”
Briggs Equipment are responding to this demand by investing in their fleet offering customers greater equipment choice and improved reliability. Briggs Equipment offer flexible, tailored STH contracts to satisfy customers individual applications and budgets.
The advantage of flexible contracts
When it comes to flexibility, short-term hire contracts from one day up to 12 months provide customers with a reliable and cost-effective way of meeting their seasonal, occasional and emergency needs. You can, for example, increase or reduce the number of trucks you hire to fit in with your own contract obligations or switch in or out of diesel, LPG or electric forklifts, to secure the best fuel option.
The tender and capital approval processes for long-term hiring of equipment can be lengthy. In many cases the short-term hire contracts process is much quicker; a major bonus when a business has a pressing peak in demand and time is of the essence.
Customers that choose STH suppliers with a nationwide network of regional depots and a dedicated delivery fleet, like Briggs Equipment, can also expect a swift response and, in many instances, arrangements can be made for trucks to be on-site within 24 hours.
With a greater variety of equipment available than ever before, STH fleets are capable of meeting a huge variety of applications. Traditionally, suppliers have provided a limited warehousing range comprising counterbalance, reach trucks, powered pallet trucks, stackers, VNA equipment and order pickers. However, leading suppliers like Briggs Equipment have developed their offering to satisfy more diverse requirements and can now offer articulated forklifts, tele-trucks, aerial access, sweepers, all-terrain utility vehicles and specialised heavy lifting trucks, including empty container handlers and reach stackers, on a short term hire basis.
"Investment in our STH fleet is enabling us to support a much broader range of customers,” adds Allan Parsons. "We work closely with various port authorities and are increasingly involved with large event management companies. The nature of our STH fleet today is such that we also offer a reliable, cost-effective solution when businesses are organising large public events, such as a regional country fair or seasonal market.”
Investing for our customers future
Historically fleet managers would experience difficulties finding the right truck to fit their specific operation, well aware that opting for second best to fulfil an urgent demand for additional capacity can pose a threat to health and safety as well as productivity.
In 2014 Briggs Equipment invested £10.5million in its short-term hire fleet, providing over 5,000 machines to choose from, broadening the range available to customers. This includes specialised equipment such as JCB telehandlers, rough terrain vehicles and the JCB Workmax utility terrain vehicle, along with Narrow Aisle Flexi equipment and a variety of JLG aerial access equipment, including scissor, boom and toucan lifts and stock pickers.
In fact Briggs Equipment has been building its STH capability significantly over the past few years, bringing its capital investment since 2010 to around £52.5m; ensuring that the latest specifications and broadest applications are catered for.
Allan Parsons adds "It became clear that, irrespective of their size, customers are not simply looking for a way of hiring in forklift trucks to cope with a spike in capacity every now and then. What they really want is a reliable ‘one stop’ resource that can support their business during challenging periods when changes to their operations require the deployment of specialised materials handling equipment for a short time span”.
"Our investment in our STH means that we offer a highly cost-effective solution. Not only do we have the equipment to handle a wide range of applications, from fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) to freight and construction, but we also tailor contracts to meet individual customer needs, backed up with a team of experienced service engineers, ensuring optimum productivity.”
In addition to expanding its STH fleet Briggs Equipment has invested in its people, creating a new specialist regional development team to further enhance the short-term hire customer’s experience. Located throughout the UK, this team is responsible for improving communication, maintaining high standards of service for customer satisfaction and proactively seeking out opportunities to further support customers’ operations.
Maintaining equipment in top condition
Since short-term hire equipment is often used in pressurised environments, when demand is high and goods need to be moved quickly, keeping fleets in excellent condition is certainly a challenge. This is where Briggs Equipment’s 600 mobile service engineers come into their own, as they can be on hand quickly to keep trucks operating at peak efficiency.
Recognising that they need to take action to combat misuse of equipment, some companies are recruiting their own operators, rather than agency drivers, whilst others choose to implement incentive schemes to promote safety awareness. Many are reaping the rewards of their commitment to driver training and retraining on a three-year cycle – which major STH specialists like Briggs Equipment can also assist with. This helps drive a change in behaviour, reducing the likelihood of damage to stock and equipment along with the risk of personal injury to drivers.
Leading materials handling services providers ensure that all their short-term hire machines are LOLER certified and inspected and serviced before they go out to the customer and when they come back from site.
Getting the right solution for you
When it comes to arranging a short-term hire contract, Allan Parsons has a number of suggestions to help customers secure the best deal.
"Since demand varies from machine to machine, consider your requirements carefully,” he says. "Hiring a class of forklift truck in low season could well turn out to be to your advantage.”
Planning ahead (if possible) is also key. Appreciating that customers may be looking to satisfy a pressing need for extra capacity, Allan says that the more you can plan ahead, the more assured you can be of getting the equipment you want when you want it.
More competitive rates often tend to be available during longer rental periods, so the advice is to try to anticipate demand to get the best price first time.
It’s good to talk to your STH provider in the first instance to seek advice. Allan suggests that customers discuss opportunities to consolidate deliveries and collections and ask questions. Your supplier may even be able to help out by moving machines around the country for you.
Snap up special offers! It’s perhaps the most obvious point, but Allan says it’s always worth keeping an eye open for promotional and damage waiver offers.
Briggs Equipment is actively growing its share of the short-term hire market by offering customer centric solutions. Hiring materials handling equipment on this basis has an increasingly important part to play in helping businesses improve productivity from a single source of supplier.