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Time is money, safety is vital – a story of rental advantage

Australia’s Hire Industry is an essential part of the economy.  The convenience offered to both DIY and professional hirers provides enormous advantages. The Kennards Hire story is a classic example.  Andy Kennard, a living legend, tells the story about his father lending equipment to friends and acquaintances until finally jacking up and deciding to hire it to them instead.  Boy have we come a long way since then.

There are approximately 1200 hire locations around the country.  Some of them are shining lights of efficiency and logic. Others, still rent gear acquired second hand and wonder why they can’t get a good price for their efforts.

Here’s a few pointers that are a perception of one company, Australian Pump Industries, who played a major role in the development of pumps and cleaning equipment for the Rental Industries.

The diminishing DIY market

Traditionally mum or dad would go to a hire company and rent a chainsaw, vacuum cleaner or even a drill rather than buy one.  The big box stores changed all that with the influx of cheap third world tools.  Designed to be sold for occasional use rather than regular use, meant a huge trend for DIYers to buy their own equipment rather than renting.

The answer isn’t to drop the hire rates!  Australian Pump believes that the development of the country, the huge infrastructure projects that we are doing, and we still need to do, will drive enormous opportunities for rental.  However, the game is changed irretrievably and its now about the right equipment for the right job and of course appealing to the professional hirer.

Profiling the Professional

We live in the age of the “executive tradesman”.  They drive flash utes, dress in a neat and tidy way, present themselves well, are polite and are business like.  They do their own tax returns and keep their own accounts; and they charge as much as doctors. Their time is valuable and there are some tools they will always buy rather than rent.

When it comes to a professional painter, paint prep on a big job can take days, even weeks depending on the size of the project.  Using a professional 4000psi pressure cleaner such as the Aussie Scud400, with the related tools (turbo lance, tele wand or flat surface cleaner) can knock days off the preparation time.  The tradie may not have the desire or the requirement to own a piece of equipment like that. It represents a reasonably large investment.  What’s the trick?  Hire it.

This applies to particularly the pressure cleaners, big vacuum cleaner equipment, dewatering pumps for particular short term projects and of course jetters for clearing blocked drains, storm water or sewer lines.

Renting the right gear for the job

Professional hire companies always quiz the customer about what they plan to do at the time of the hire.  Why is the big question.  We all know to rent a piece of equipment to an operator that isn’t going to give the best result is asking for trouble.  The hire may take a week instead of two days because of a bad selection. Don’t expect the renter to love you for a bad selection or lack of advice.

The most vital commodity all of us have in our society is time.  Take pressure cleaning as a classic example. Nobody wants to drive a pressure cleaner for eight hours just because they’ve rented it for a whole day.  If they can get the job done in four hours and with the right piece of gear, i.e. a 4000psi even 5000psi Class A machine, the customer won’t begrudge having rented the unit for a whole day.

Rather, they’ll love the piece of equipment and love the hire company that steered them in the right direction with tools and accessories.  You can apply the same logic to pump rental where emptying a flooded basement in two or three hours, instead of two days, based on the selection of equipment.  It’s a no-brainer.

Most rental companies will only rent trash pumps up to about 3” port size.  Moving to a 4” pump is very little extra cost.  That could mean the job of emptying that sump is reduced by at least a third.  That’s a fuel saving, a convenience gain and a time saver as well.  In other words, it’s worth the money.

Safety standards are important

As a pressure cleaner operator, Australian Pump is very familiar with the new safety standards for pressure cleaner operators.  The new standards draw very clear delineation between machines that require operator certification and those that don’t.

Hire companies that rent machines to operators without warning them about operator certification are at risk if they rent machines which are Class BClass B machines are machines that have a capacity of more than 5600 bar/litres (for more information on this, Aussie Pumps have produced a one-page sheet that explains how this works, which is available on our website).  In the event of an injury, it can be very expensive for a hire company to rent Class B machines and didn’t warn the customer.

That of course only applies if the machines being rented are Class B.  Class B machines for example would be a pressure cleaner that is 4000psi and 23lpm flow.  Smart operators with machines like that are modifying the machines by changing the pump to a slightly smaller capacity that makes them Class A, which means “No operator certification required”.  Australian Pump even produce 5000psi Class A machine that can be legally and safely rented to uncertified operators.

Apart from that it is mandatory that the operator of the pressure cleaner does get some handover training on how to use the machine.  Also, warnings decals about tampering with unloader valves and trying to wash dogs, children or other animals with super high pressure should be clearly visible on all rental pressure cleaners.  That sounds like common sense but not everybody in the industry understands this yet.

Understanding these rules is mandatory and yet the Standards Association does not widely broadcast this information.  It is left up to companies like Australian Pump to educate the market.  (Obviously with the help of Hire and Rental Magazine)

When running a hire fleet, quality is everything

Shoddy equipment, that looks like rubbish, that might come from another country, where the pressure is for the machine to be sold rather than trouble free operation for years, is obvious. Yet, you’ll still find hire operators trying to make some cheap load of rubbish out of three or four dead machines.  That’s a huge waste of time and is not a good investment.

At Aussie Pumps the focus is always on making machines that are safer, faster and more efficient.  We believe that customers will pay more to rent a machine that gets the job done safer, faster and at a lower cost. Time is everything.

Aussie’s drain cleaning Jetters are a classic example.  Plumbers report that clearing a drain with an Eel, a concept that goes back 80 years, can take six, seven or eight hours.  The operator gets filthy in the process and can often leave the site looking like a disaster area.  An Aussie jetter can get the job done in under 20 minutes leaving the site clean. This allows the renter/operator to perform the job in normal work clothes without the need to change afterwards.

It’s a breakthrough that the hire industry is only just starting to understand. Some plumbers will buy their own Jetters, but just like pressure cleaners or mini excavators, when they need the product to do a specific job, they’ll rent it for that job.

Uniformity of the fleet makes commercial sense

Aussie Pumps recently researched pressure cleaner fleets around the country for brands and ages of machines in depots around the country.  What they found was a big surprise.  They saw in a number of hire yards two, three and sometimes even four different brands of pressure cleaner.  That indiscriminate purchasing of that one hire item can be repeated in a wide range of other equipment.

So why would you have two or three different brands, complicating the supply chain, creating protentional service issues with lack of uniformity of product and of course protentional confusion of service fitters?  When we asked that question the answer was that the purchasing of equipment was indiscriminate and not based on any major research into the product.

All 3000psi pressure cleaners are not created equal just as all excavators of a certain horsepower range or capacity, are not the same.  A hire depot should not be like Bunnings.  The customer should have the right to expect that every time they rent a product it should be of similar quality and reliability standards as the last hire.

Great hire companies all understand this and are highly professional of their acquisition of plant by often doing months, even years of research, before making commitments to reliable supply partners.

What do hire customers want?

They want what we want.  They want what you want.  That is a good experience; the job done as fast as possible, reliability of the equipment, modern, effective accessories to be offered as part of the deal. I mean would you rent a pump without renting a hose to go with it?  Of course not.

Time is money, safety is vital.

Customers will pay to rent reliable, consistent equipment that won’t let them down on the job. Give them that and they will keep coming back, especially if it’s backed with friendly, knowledgeable advice at the time of the rental.

Where do suppliers fit in?

Warwick Lorenz, managing director of Aussie Pumps believes that for equipment like theirs the onus is on the company to produce products which are suitable for hire!

“We learnt the hard way through working with Australia’s best hire operators that the basic fundamental you start out with is the right equipment properly specified and built tough for the rental industry,” Lorenz said.

“Somebody from Kennards Hire said to us years ago that the one thing you will never hear on a hire site is go easy on that rental machine.  We understand that principle and produce machines that are capable of being hired for higher prices than cheap and nasty alternate products or low performance equipment.”

Compact, effective and reliable equipment, backed up with the right documentation and service information is what it is all about.  There are new opportunities out there for hire to blossom in the coming years.

The Covid virus has shown us that.  Who would have thought you would wind up renting hot wash machines and Aussie pressure cleaners to aged care facilities?  And yet, it is now an accepted procedure.  It has opened loads of new markets for cleaning and hygienic equipment.  It is just a question of having the right products.

Australian Pump owes a huge amount of its success to the support and inspiration of the hire industry.  The adoption of the Aussie AB30 Pocket Rocket stainless steel frame pressure cleaner by the Japanese rental market is a big breakthrough for the company.

Designing products that represent better value for money and rent for higher prices, means everybody wins.  The hirer is happy, the hire company is also pleased and of course the original designer and manufacturer of the product gets a lot of satisfaction out of that.

Further information on all the above is readily available from Australian Pump Industries high pressure hire support division.


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