Bobcat machine and operator
How to achieve a safer jobsite, decrease downtime & maximize your rentals

Looking to gain a competitive edge on the jobsite? Renting compact equipment, specifically excavators, compact track loaders and skid-steer loaders, can give you and your equipment operators the opportunity to take on short-term projects and access new revenue sources, as well as use the newest and most advanced equipment, all while reducing operating costs and minimizing downtime.

While renting construction equipment offers many benefits, failing to properly prepare and train can lead to issues. To ensure that your business maximizes the benefits of equipment rental, consider these six tips. 


1. Follow safety guidelines & provide proper equipment training.

Anytime you rent compact equipment, make sure you and your operators have the proper education and training. 

This begins with reviewing the operating and maintenance manuals, connecting with your equipment dealer and, when available, watching video tutorials through the original equipment manufacturers’ websites.

Review safety and instructional decals on the interior and exterior of your equipment. The decals can alert you and your operators to potential hazards and provide instructions on how to avoid the hazards. Make sure to notify the rental company if you see any decals that are worn, damaged or missing. For operators who are new to a particular brand or machine, ensure that they read the decals and follow the machine’s operating instructions. If you or your operators are unfamiliar with the equipment, ask your rental store or dealership to provide hands-on training or explain basic operating procedures, including the machine’s controls, gauges, signals, indicators and monitor displays. Also discuss recent technology updates with the rental center. Ask the rental center to demonstrate and show you how to get the best performance out of your equipment.

Additional training resources and quick reference guides on proper operating practices include the Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ (AEM) safety manuals. AEM is a trade association that provides global services to companies that manufacture equipment, products and services. 

Service and safety training courses are also available. Most include a DVD with videos for individual or classroom instruction, and many now have the option to access materials digitally through a website or YouTube page.


2. Instill a culture of safety. 

A safety culture starts with management and operational staff members who treat safety and health as an investment, not a cost, and who demonstrate model behaviors. Guidelines include wearing a seat belt, using the grab handles and steps that are provided for a three-point contact when entering and exiting the machine, and avoiding loose clothing that can get caught on working components or the machine.

Use work lights and a horn (if equipped) when needed to enhance safe operation.


3. Perform necessary maintenance.

Although rental dealerships take care of major maintenance during a rental contract, it’s important to perform routine equipment inspection and maintenance. Make sure you and your operators take a few minutes to walk around the machine to look for potential problems before using the equipment.


During the walk-around, complete a full undercarriage inspection for excessive or uneven wear, look for damaged or missing components, and clean the undercarriage to help minimize any material buildup that can contribute to wear. For compact track loaders and skid-steer loaders, regularly inspect track tension and tire pressure. This can minimize downtime and help keep operators productive.

Inspect the battery cables and connections before operation. Corroded terminals can cause hard starting and charging issues that can negatively affect your experience with your machines. Keep all fluids at proper levels to minimize downtime. This includes fuel, diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), hydraulic oil and cooling fluids. 

Typical maintenance procedures are provided in the operations and maintenance manuals and can be performed without specific technical training. However, some maintenance items may need to be completed by a local dealer or at a specialty facility. Ask your rental house or dealer about any specific questions or applications you have. 


4. Understand fuel considerations.

Fuel can be one of the most expensive operational expenses and is an important consideration to note when renting compact equipment, especially when using the machine for an extended period. Using clean fuel is your first line of defense to proactively keep the machine running and in top performance.


Here are a few tips to make sure you are purchasing the cleanest possible fuel for your rental:

  • Purchase fuel from a trusted supplier.
  • Confirm the fuel’s cloud point, which is dependent on geographic location and time of year.
  • Test bulk fuel tanks every six months if you store bulk fuel at your company’s facility or yard.
  • Keep supply tank fuel filters clean if they are stored at your company’s facility or yard.
  • Use 2-micron fuel filters on supply and service tanks.
  • Fill machine tanks at the end of each workday.
  • For long-term rentals, be sure to keep an updated preventive maintenance log.


5. Assess jobsite conditions.

Once you and your operators are knowledgeable and comfortable operating the equipment, take time to assess the jobsite conditions.

Inspect the work area and look for potential dangers, such as underground or overhead utility lines, and soft ground conditions. All underground utilities should be clearly marked before excavating. If they’re not identified, operators should call 811 to schedule a trained professional to identify the underground utilities. You and your operators should look around the jobsite to make sure there are no bystanders, and use barrier tape, traffic cones or gates to keep other individuals and equipment out of the work area. 


6. Lock out unwanted use.

Your success in renting compact equipment is dependent on proper use, storage and upkeep of the equipment. Jobsites are easy targets for equipment theft, so make sure you and your operators are taking the necessary precautions to lock out unwanted use.

It is also beneficial to ask the rental company if the compact equipment has any security features to prevent unauthorized use. It’s up to you as a business owner to communicate proper operating procedures to your compact equipment operators. By following these tips, you and your operators can promote a safer work environment, avoid preventable downtime and maximize your rental dollar usage.