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Equipment rental, also called plant hire in some countries, is a service industry providing machinery, equipment and tools of all kinds and sizes (from earthmoving and power generation to hand-held tools, etc.) for a limited period of time to final users, mainly to construction contractors but also to industry and individual consumers.
Equipment rental is a relatively new industry, first developed in Anglo-Saxon countries. The American Rental Association was founded as early as 1955, and the first waves of consolidation took place in the 1970s in North America, leading to the creation of companies with nationwide operations. Consolidation was slow in the 2000s but a buyout joined the two largest North American rental companies: United Rentals and RSC.
In Europe, the industry has moved from mostly family-owned small businesses to the creation of a number of international groups, some of which have an annual turnover close to €1billion. The large majority of companies in the industry have fewer than 5 employees. Concentration in the industry is expected to renew at a fast pace, following a pause in 2008–2009 as a consequence of the international credit crunch.
The situation of the equipment rental industry in Europe varies largely from one country to another, with some markets more mature than others. Equipment rental penetration is lowest in Italy and Germany (around 10–11%) and highest in the UK and Nordic countries (up to 62%). There is growth potential in Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, where some countries saw double-digit growth rate for rental in recent boom years.
The main reasons for the industry's overall fast development are:
- Capital Release: In times where high levels of profit relative to invested capital must be demonstrated, contractors are increasingly eager to rent equipment, minimizing the size of their equipment fleet. Less immobilized capital allows for improved cost control, lower maintenance costs, and smaller transport fleets. Renting equipment with operators allows for optimizing staff costs.
- Range of recent equipment available: Some rental companies have fleet inventories reaching up to the hundreds of thousands of pieces of equipment while others are specialized in a range of very specific products. They can thus supply the most comprehensive range of state-of-the-art equipment – with or without qualified operators – as and when contractors and customers need it.
- Maintenance, compliance with standards and regulations: Rental companies bear the responsibility for ensuring the equipment they rent out complies with all applicable regulations, performing safety check before delivery. Routine maintenance and major repairs are typically handled by the rental company, saving the renter the expense of having a maintenance crew on staff.
In 2013, rental revenues in North America were expected to exceed $38 billion and industry growth is expected to outpace the general economy. As of 2013,[update] the 20 largest rental companies were all headquartered in the US.
In early 2009, the European Rental Association (ERA) and Global Insight published the first statistical report on Europe's rental industry, based on research carried out in 11 countries (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK).
According to this study (and older research on countries not included in the study), the total size of the European equipment rental market was €33.6 billion in 2008. Of the €33.6 billion turnover, €24.4 billion was without operators and €9.2 billion was with operators. In 2012, the total size of the European equipment rental market (without operators) was €23 billion at 2012 exchange rates.
Based on 2010 statistics, for the 12 countries covered under the study, the European equipment rental industry included 13,900 companies employing 114,600 persons (not including operators). The average fleet age in 2008 was 3.8 years, ranging from 2.9 years for the lowest country to 5.7 years for the highest.
- Operated equipment rental
- Equipment service management and rental
- Rental relocation
- Rental accessories and attachments
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- Gene Marcial (19 December 2011). "Smart Buyout Deal By United Rentals Delivers Rich returns to RSC Holders". Forbes. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
- "North American Rental Revenue to Reach $38 Billion in 2013". ForConstructionPros.com. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
- "RER 100: Top Rental Equipment Companies of 2013". Rermag.com. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
- "The European Equipment Rental Industry 2013 Report". erarental.org. Retrieved 2016-10-03.