6 Ways to Boost Your Equipment Utilization

Increase your return on investment with these strategies.

Contractors estimate that their equipment, whether owned or rented, represents about 20 percent of their costs. That’s a big chunk of change. And any time your heavy equipment is idle, it’s costing you money.  

How often does your heavy equipment sit unused? If the answer is “often” (or worse, “I don’t know”), it’s time to look for ways to use it more efficiently. Consider these strategies to boost your equipment utilization and thereby your ROI. 

1. Establish a baseline

As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. If you don’t know your current equipment utilization rates it’s harder to improve them. Telematics — data generated from sensors embedded in IoT equipment — can help contractors gain accurate insight into how often equipment is active versus idle. A consumption management platform like Total Control can go further. Total Control helps you track your fleet in real time and also uses United Rentals’ large store of proprietary data to compare your utilization of various pieces of equipment against industry benchmarks.    

2. Analyze usage trends

Using your telematics data, look at your past usage of equipment by class and type to help you predict upcoming demand and better allocate equipment across jobsites.  

3. Locate your equipment

You can’t use a piece of equipment, or return it to the rental company, if you don’t know where it is. Contemplate this statistic: 24 percent of rental equipment is returned an average of 15 days late, which can double the original cost estimate. One of the main reasons rental equipment is returned late is because managers lose track of it as it moves across sites. Telematics can solve this problem, providing information on location, run time and due date for return.  

4. Examine your equipment coordination

In some cases, your excavator is sitting idle because it’s waiting on the dump truck that’s been delayed while returning to a congested urban job site, noted Matt Man, co-founder and CEO of construction intelligence company indus.ai. It’s possible that you could reduce excavator downtime by moving an additional dump truck to the site, shortening the timeline for this portion of work. The point is, it’s important to understand how equipment is being used together to get a full picture of waste.    

5. Minimize maintenance downtime

Predictive maintenance, another benefit of telematics, predicts exactly when a machine will need maintenance, so you’re not under- or over-maintaining it or dealing with unexpected breakdowns. It helps you more accurately factor maintenance time into the schedule. And performing the right maintenance at the right moment can help you keep your heavy equipment running longer.  

6. Gain flexibility with attachments

To get more use out of existing equipment and perhaps avoid having to rent or purchase a new piece, consider investing in multi-functional attachments. For example, you can repurpose your excavator when you move beyond the bucket: A clamping attachment can be used to safely clear trees while a breaker can help with demo of even the largest stone or concrete. A quick coupling system can save you time by speeding the attachment swap-out.

Construction equipment is expensive. Get more from every dollar you invest by making every piece work as hard as possible for you. The money you’ll save by decreasing rentals or rental time or avoiding a new equipment purchase will go straight to your bottom line. 

Megan Headley has been writing about every aspect of the built environment since 2004. As owner of ClearStory Publications, LLC, Megan demonstrates her passion for helping contractors create more productive and safer jobsites, and more sustainable and successful projects.

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