Cranes don’t come cheap. Even for a used tower crane you won’t get much change out of $250,000. So it makes sense (and cents) to ensure you’re getting the best use from your investment. But that can be easier said than done and most crane rental companies know it.

In a market where idle time is a significant opportunity cost, it’s critical that crane rental companies have effective and efficient systems for handling crane utilization.

What do crane companies need so they can operate efficiently in the rental market? How can a solid telematics system ‘reduce the rub’ for crane rental operations?

Keeping rental cranes earning

On the surface it’s a simple case of ROI. Basically, you want maximum return on your investment (the crane). That means it needs to be kept fully utilized and earning money on a client’s work site.

For example, a tower crane, on average, will earn around $15,000 a month in hireage fees. This doesn’t include the extra charges involved with setting up, disassembling and other equipment required by the construction company.

But if a crane breaks down, in most cases the client will require a refund for the downtime.

And it’s not just lost earnings. If a crane is not repaired quickly, the damage to the company’s reputation can cost them future business.

To rise to the challenge of keeping a rental crane fully utilized good systems and processes are essential. Here are three key ways to make sure your business stays ahead of the pack.

1. Effective maintenance

Diagnostic systems are needed to report the crane’s mechanical health accurately and promptly. Equipment managers should be alerted as soon as possible when parts, such as belts, need replacing, to allow them sufficient time to order the part and have it delivered.

One crane rental firm knows the value of staying on top of preventative maintenance. Lampson International cite, as an example, one particular pump in the cranes, which is prone to throwing a belt, potentially burning out the transmission. “That’s a $60,000 repair,” Tony Cornwell, equipment operations manager at Lampson, says. “If that system could send us an alarm when the belt slips, we could save them from shutting down that machine by monitoring the pressure.”

Real-time tracking of cranes, regardless of where they’re located not only provides a more efficient method of billing and dispatch, but helps equipment managers stay on top of maintenance before it results in costly downtime.

2. Providing on-site mechanics with rapid technical support

Since crane rental firms aim to keep their cranes working (idle time in the yard is a massive opportunity cost) any maintenance or repair work is done on site.

Crane mechanics are often in demand and not always readily available or handy to the crane’s location. Once a mechanic gets on site it’s imperative a crane rental company can trust their backup systems to be on call and ready to assist. If the mechanic is attempting to resolve an issue with the crane’s telematics hardware, whether it’s the SIM card, antennae or something else, they need responsive help from the provider’s support crew.

If the assistance isn’t there, the mechanic may leave the crane job unfinished to continue work on another job. It could be days before the mechanic can return, leaving the crane idle and, even worse, losing money for the rental company.

3. Keeping the telematics hardware current

Part of keeping any business efficient are the inevitable hardware upgrades that everyone faces. Office managers know they can’t be using computers from the 1990s if they expect their staff to stay productive.

It’s the same with fleet management software.

Telematics hardware is constantly evolving and moving forward, with providers offering units that are designed to be far more reliable and rugged than earlier models.

For crane operators to keep their equipment reporting effectively they need to replace telematics hardware periodically, and stay current with the latest trends.

It also means equipping crane mechanics with spare hardware. There’s more sense in replacing a non-reporting unit with a spare and get the crane operational (and earning) again than wait while technicians repair the unit. Better to take the broken unit back to the workshop than take your money-maker out of the game.

Serious about supporting crane rental companies

Telogis are committed to providing everything crane rental companies need to avoid downtime, stay profitable and keep their cranes fully utilized.

See also: Maximizing asset ROI with GPS tracking – free ebook

From an agile development team, an award-winning Texan support team, industry-savvy implementation staff (and members of SC&RA) to the backing of a bullet-proof infrastructure and world-class hardware providers. It makes for an unbeatable combination that is serious about making sure crane rental companies don’t have to suffer the pain of losing money on idle cranes.