In today's tough economic climate, keeping construction equipment well maintained, maintenance costs low and projects on time are essential components to achieving profitability. When tractors, wheel loaders and excavators are in need of repair or maintenance, construction company managers and owners will find that renting portable machine tools to make those repairs has several advantages, so does working with a full-service supplier who is willing to take the time to understand a customer's business goals and can offer a range of services to meet that client's needs and keep them competitive.

Renting portable machine tools is cost-effective and gives crews access to the most reliable and powerful tools on the market. Although buying a portable machine tool is a capital expense, renting gives maintenance crews an opportunity to try the tool before the buying decision has to be made. The crew can get a feel for how it operates, gauge its precision and strength and compare it to other tools. In addition, if a repair isn't likely to be needed frequently, renting is a perfect alternative to having to justify a purchase. Rental tools can supplement a company's existing equipment.

Another advantage of renting is that in many cases, the cost of the rental and shipping can be passed to the customer as part of the project, so the construction company's out-of-pocket expenses are kept to a minimum. Furthermore, while it might take months to order a custom tool, the most popular off-the-shelf rental tools and attachments are usually on hand when needed, and often can be shipped overnight either to a company's repair shop or to the jobsite.

Portable Machine Tools Cut Equipment Downtime

When construction equipment is in the shop or on a jobsite and needs repairing but is too far away from a shop or too big to move, many construction companies have come to rely on the convenience of portable machine tools to get the repair done. The tools are transforming the way machining is done so that repair and maintenance operations are more efficient and cost effective. Their precision and strength are equal to larger stationary machines used in machine shops, but have the added benefits of being portable, modularly designed and easy to set up. They can be brought right to the piece of equipment that needs repair, and the repairs can be made on site so downtime is kept to a minimum.

 Some of the most popular portable machine tools are flange facers, boring machines and auto bore welders that are specially designed to bore and weld simultaneously. The machines help business owners maintain their tractors, wheel loaders and excavators, and are ideal for on-site repairs on most construction equipment. The tools can machine bores in tractor frames, lifting mechanisms, bridge pieces, attachments and other industrial types of equipment-anything that has a moving part that needs to be replaced or repaired.

The Climax BB5000 Boring Bar, as an example, can be used for facing, grooving, spade drilling, threading and trepanning, with boring diameters from 1.375- to 24-inches. Automated welders interface with the boring machine system enabling one set up for both items to help decrease weld time.

Full Service Suppliers

When looking for a rental partner, look for one that has built a reputation for collaborating with its customers and for providing great customer service. Be sure it has a dedicated rentals team that takes the time to listen to what customers need and can recommend the best tool for the job whether it's a common repair project or a more challenging maintenance or repair problem. By building a strong relationship with customers, a rental partner can be more proactive in developing schedules for routine maintenance as well as react faster when unexpected repair or maintenance projects arise.

Because costs and lead times are often top of mind when renting tools, look for suppliers who are cost-competitive, and who offer discounts or special incentives for long-term tool rentals. In addition, find a supplier with rental depots strategically located so that when equipment breaks down, the tool can be shipped overnight and equipment downtime kept to a minimum.

For the construction industry, twenty-four-hour live support can be crucial since many repair and maintenance jobs take place over the weekend or at night when equipment is not actively in use. If the tool operator is not totally familiar with how the rental tool operates and has questions, having twenty-four-hour live support means questions get answers fast-rather than having to wait for "normal business hours"-and the operator can get back to the job at hand.

Renting portable machine tools for repair and maintenance, and partnering with rental suppliers who have years of experience serving the needs of the construction industry and who offer a breadth of tools and services to streamline maintenance and repair, can result in significant advantages to construction business owners and their maintenance teams. They can help keep equipment running in top form so projects stay on track to give companies a competitive edge.Lastly, with a shrinking workforce of skilled maintenance technicians, many construction equipment owners are looking to suppliers for help. Look for a supplier that offers training courses along with the rental. Many top suppliers offer courses led by experts or will also send a support person to the jobsite to resolve technical problems and help your maintenance team learn how to operate the machine tools most efficiently and safely.

Construction Business Owner, October 2009