Briggs Equipment, one of the UK's largest suppliers of lift trucks on short term hire, has invested £8 million in nearly 550 new machines for its short term rental fleet. Alongside a range of counterbalance machines, the new fleet includes 120 pieces of Cat® warehouse equipment, as well as eight 10-16 tonne SMV machines and six 5 tonne Baumann sideloaders.
Briggs explains the growth in customer demands for the specialised heavy lifting trucks as being down to risk-averse buying behaviour coupled with traditionally poor quality of short term hire equipment available in this market.
Allan Parsons, short term rental manager at Briggs Equipment, explains, “We are satisfying customer demands for specialised equipment, in what can be arduous applications, by offering a fleet of new machines that are LOLER certified and meet all safety requirements. It is apparent that the quality of short term hire machines available in the heavy lifting and long load handling sectors can be poor. The kit is usually old and not as reliable but most importantly can be unavailable. At Briggs our short term hire fleet is completely flexible with delivery within 24 hours, plus these machines are regularly inspected and maintained by our in-house engineering team, so are 100% reliable.”
The continued growth in industries such as ports and certain sectors of manufacturing, coupled with the uncertainty in the economy, means that demand for this equipment is strong. Allan Parsons adds, “Even some of our larger customers in the construction industry, for example, prefer to take a shorter term rental contract out for the larger machines. They represent a significant investment and when there is uncertainty in the economy customers become more risk averse. The shorter term contracts are a good way of minimising risk if a customer is unsure of the long term business forecast.”
The SMV Lift Trucks and Baumann sideloaders have been purchased from Cooper Specialised Handling, and meet the highest standards in safety, noise and vibration. Excellent visibility and operator access help to prevent accidents and improve safety; critical when using machines on a short rental in specialised applications. The machines' rugged construction, low maintenance requirements and high fuel efficiency ensures complete reliability and low running costs.
A fifth of Briggs' 2,400-strong short term rental fleet is now made up of warehouse equipment. Allan Parsons puts this down to seasonal demands coupled with the unpredictable nature of retail demand, “Our largest retail customers deliberately keep 30% of their fleet on short term rental. This increases their flexibility as a business to respond to increases and decreases in demand at short notice.
“For certain customers we meet their specialist needs by keeping a dedicated fleet of Cat machines for them. This might include machine modifications such as carton clamps and high masts. We know they will be calling on this fleet during their peak times, for example, during Easter to October, and we make sure it is available for them by immediate despatch.”
Short term rental equipment is often subjected to more abuse and misuse. The trucks are often used in highly pressurised environments, when demand is high and goods need to be moved quickly, perhaps by agency drivers who aren't as familiar with the equipment. So the challenge for a national service provider such as Briggs is to keep its short term fleet in excellent condition.
For Briggs this is dependent on familiarising the operators with the machines as much as possible as well as having a thorough inspection process whereby customers are charged for excessive damage. Allan Parsons says, “We check and service every machine before it goes out and when it comes back from site. However, it's the nature of this business that we have to expect a certain amount of abuse and take it on the chin. Our priority is having reliable machines that are safe and kept in good working order and available immediately.”