As new generations of people gain employment in the equipment rental industry, new generations of technology will become essential. Those reaching young adulthood, otherwise known as millennials, have grown up holding mobile phones and tablets, and communicating via online messaging services.
Everything we do now is automated and, for rental companies, this brings mega advantages, as data is readily available, in a more in-depth form. Rental software is now a must-have for all rental companies – that much is true.
But just how far can technology, and software in the rental industry go? According to the experts, the demand for telematics is ever-increasing.
UK rental software provider inspHire is a key player in the industry, and Martin Bestwick, the company’s general manager, says every company now demands telematics. “It wasn’t too long ago that telematics were only a feasible investment for the larger businesses”, says Bestwick, “However, as is with many new technologies, gradually they become accessible to everyone and that’s what we’re seeing now.
“Hire software took the same trend and is now a must have in every size of rental business and I believe telematics will follow the same path. Naturally, businesses will want to be able to combine these two vital systems, enabling them to easily access the plethora of information they have captured, in a single system.”
These are also the thoughts of Guy van der Knapp, managing director for rental software company MCS. He says, “Telematics data will soon become an integral part of a rental business. After all, no-one wants a rented machine to be misused or returned in a damaged state. Making use of telematics information has been a challenge because of the wide variety of telematics sources available and knowing which login to use for each machine. That effectively puts it at arm’s length.
“By pulling telematics data from all your connected machines into the right place in your operational rental system, you have an insight into what your equipment has been doing when in the hands of your customers.”
Van der Knapp added that evaluating accurate telematics data from all connected machines would provide a company with far more control. He said a company could make more informed decisions by evaluating actual equipment usage and not just contracted usage, which could be useful when choosing to bill customers for fuel used or unauthorised use.
Timely, then, that equipment manufacturer JCB has launched a new telematics system for use on all fleet equipment for rental companies. Announced to the market in May this year, its updated version of its LiveLink telematics system enables mixed fleet operators to control all of their plant and equipment with one network.
JCB LiveLink is JCB’s own telematics system and is used on over 160,000 JCB machines worldwide. It boasts more than 70,000 logins per month, according to the company. However, it can now be used on non-JCB equipment, too. The company says this will improve fuel economy, preventative maintenance, and location tracking and geofencing.
JCB’s managing director, Parts and Service, Ian Sayers, said, “Many customers run mixed fleets and most manufacturers now offer a form of telematics support. This means fleet operators can be faced with a range of complex data, often in different formats. This invariably means logging into and viewing several incompatible systems in order to get a comprehensive overview of the entire fleet’s performance, whereabouts and service requirements.
“The new JCB Control Tower eradicates this problem by consolidating information from across a complete fleet on to a single dedicated system.”
Telematics isn’t the only element of technology improving in the industry. Indeed, software via mobile and tablet is improving, too. US-based software providers Wynne Systems has launched MobileLink, which integrates its RentalMan software for an on-the-move service.
A new feature on this system allows users to take photos of damaged equipment and immediately relay that information back to the shop. This
lets maintenance teams prepare for the job and order any needed parts, speeding up the off-rent process.
Point of Rental, also based in the US, has launched the Inspection App and Rental eSign app, which has come as a result of increased demand for mobile usage. The company’s CEO, Wayne Harris, says rental companies are looking to leverage technologies to waste fewer resources, while enhancing their ability to maximise revenue.
Harris added, “Right now, we’re seeing people making the move toward paperless processes – that’s why we’ve developed things like the Inspection App, which makes the inspection process paperless and its data trackable. Also, Rental eSign allows companies to manage their entire contract process via mobile, including signatures.”