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903 E. Ohio St., Indianapolis, IN 46202

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Embracing Electric

by: Josh Nickell, Vice President, Equipment Segment, American Rental Association
Manufacturers are moving fast, creating electric versions of tried-and-true equipment – but are contractors ready to make the switch? It depends. Some already have, while some aren’t yet considering it. Where do you stand?

Whether you should be renting battery-powered equipment is a decision informed by whether you need to meet jobsite emission or noise limitations, if you have company-wide sustainability goals, or if you’d like to test a piece of equipment before buying. Even if those needs don’t resonate, consider giving battery technology a shot. It will be more commonplace on jobsites everywhere before you know it.

Sustainability is the biggest player in the battery-powered equipment game. It’s the main driver for manufacturers to create this revolutionary equipment and a large reason why contractors are testing it out. Battery-powered equipment is still new, making some contractors hesitant in its ability to perform as well as its gas counterparts. The first piece of good news: performance doesn’t suffer. Thanks to the electric vehicle industry, battery technology has rapidly improved and been shared with other industries. The second piece of good news: rental stores can be a great risk-free introduction to electric equipment.

Think of rental stores as a partner in your business as the experts on electric equipment and fleet management. Many contractors already think that way because statistically speaking, over 50 percent of the equipment on a jobsite is rented. Rental stores have your best interest in mind and like you, want your business to grow and succeed. They’re a great resource and can help you decide when electric equipment rental makes sense. Here are four situations when it does.

Meet Emission Specifications
Certain states have strict regulations on contractor emissions and using electric equipment is one way contractors can stay within those limits. Renting equipment on its own, even gas-powered equipment, reduces a contractor’s footprint by 30 to 50 percent. Renting a piece of electric equipment reduces the footprint even further.

Electric construction equipment also reduces noise emissions on the jobsite, which are often regulated, as well. You may not have noise restrictions, depending on where you operate, but any crew can benefit from being able to better hear one another, along with reduced exposure to noise. Temporary or permanent hearing loss and tinnitus are real health concerns common among construction workers.

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While wearing PPE helps, it requires preparation to have ear plugs or earmuffs handy – and it doesn’t always happen. Using electric equipment reduces the health impacts caused by noise, whether PPE is worn or not since the class of equipment is much quieter when compared to diesel or pneumatic engines.

Trial Equipment
Considering buying battery-powered equipment? Let your local rental store do the research. By renting, you can essentially test-drive electric equipment before investing in your own. Trying rental equipment first helps you zero in on a brand and model that works best for your business – and that your crews enjoy using. It also helps you better understand the battery and charging needs that come alongside electric equipment. For example, you may need to implement a charging station onsite if you plan to use the equipment all day. Whereas for a lesser-used tool, it might be enough to charge the battery overnight in your shop.
Lower Equipment Costs
Of course, if you only need equipment for a short amount of time, or to meet specific job requirements, renting makes the most economical sense. Even over the long term, renting can save you money. You won’t need to cover routine maintenance, or repairs, or find storage for the machine when it’s not in use. The same benefits apply to renting electric equipment. As with any new product, there might be a premium to renting electric equipment now. The market price of electric equipment is higher than gas equipment, but the cost to run it over its lifespan is lower, so those costs will even out. Consider the elimination of gas, oil, maintenance needs and repair costs – and how much that could save through years of operation.
Improve Operational Safety
Electric equipment is simple, with most models having fewer moving parts than diesel machines. Electric compact models and handheld equipment may even only have one or two switches for a startup process. That means even novices without lengthy training can use electric equipment safely. There’s no throttle, no gas tank and no mixing fuel – which means less room for error. This gives crews time back in their day and is a huge benefit for crews with language barriers. One crew member can easily show another where the on and off button is (if it has one) and where the trigger to start the tool resides.

If you’re on the fence about whether battery-powered equipment is right for your situation, turn to your local rental store. As a new technology, battery equipment will only continue to improve, making the electric equipment experience better and better as time progresses. Now is the time to start trying electric equipment through rental and become an early adopter of battery power. The state of California is leading the charge in enforcing sustainability restrictions now, but other states may not be far behind. As with other trends, similar restrictions will soon reach the east coast and landlocked states. Contractors who are open to electrified equipment will fare well moving forward.

Lean on your local rental store partners for knowledge and expertise as you dive into battery-powered equipment. Rental stores are the largest buyers of construction equipment, so they collectively have the power to influence manufacturer decisions. Foster a relationship with your local rental store, use them as a resource, voice your concerns and together we’ll make sure electric works for you.

About ARA
The American Rental Association, in Moline, Illinois, is an international trade association for owners of equipment and event rental businesses and the manufacturers and suppliers of construction/industrial, general tool and party/event rental equipment.

ARA members, which include more than 11,000 rental businesses and more than 1,000 manufacturers and suppliers, are located in every U.S. state, every Canadian province and more than 40 countries worldwide. Founded in 1955, ARA is the source for information, advocacy, education, networking and marketplace opportunities for the equipment and event rental industry throughout the world.
Find out more at ARArental.org.

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