Dec 18, 2020

How Technology Can Equip the Rental and Leasing Market

Industry 4.0
Julian Smith, Business Develop...
6 min
Julian Smith, Business Development Manager at Columbus UK, discusses technology incorporation into equipment leasing and rental operations for efficiency.
Julian Smith, Business Development Manager at Columbus UK, discusses technology incorporation into equipment leasing and rental operations for efficienc...

The equipment leasing and rental market has seen tremendous growth and opportunity over the last several years, with many multi-industry businesses turning from direct purchase to flexible rental and leasing models. Within the construction sector alone, the equipment leasing and rental market in the UK has grown to a size of £7 billion. Despite this significant growth, many rental and leasing businesses are struggling to adapt their internal business solutions to keep up with ever-changing customer demands. Julian Smith, Business Development Manager at Columbus UK, discusses how incorporating technology into equipment leasing and rental operations can help businesses effectively adapt to market changes and satisfy customer demands.

As margins in the UK equipment rental and leasing market continue to narrow, businesses can no longer pass on equipment costs to their consumers or take on losses. Instead, rental and leasing businesses that manage international fleets and serialised equipment to car or household & office goods need to focus on optimising their resources. 

There are four crucial ways that technology can help these businesses adapt to changes in the market and stay ahead of their competition by streamlining their operations to be more effective and efficient than ever before.

1: All in one place – with operational visibility

When it comes to rental and leasing operations, the task of processing equipment and material returns while keeping tabs on the quality and quantity can be quite the juggling act for many businesses. But with the right technology, companies can create a comprehensive and centralised modern solution that provides an overview of rental and leasing stock levels and a transparent insight into available equipment. 

For example, the latest solutions support Internet of Things (IoT) devices, providing real-time data to track the movement and use of equipment onsite. This way companies can understand if there’s room for improvement and protect the overall functioning of their equipment. This is also useful to optimise spare parts inventory – companies can analyse the most commonly used spare parts, reduce the need to carry excess inventory, and avoid the associated costs. 

2: Streamline logistics to keep pace with higher demand 

With huge volumes of equipment going on-and-offsite, services to be delivered, and specific agreements made with clients, the ability to manage asset delivery can be a complex matter. This is especially the case when rental and leasing companies rely on often slow and disparate legacy systems for operations such as CRM. If companies want to meet customer demand for greater flexibility and convenience, they cannot afford to be slow in their delivery process. 

Technology can pick up the pace here – allowing companies to better plan, forecast, and deliver their assets on time, every time. Graphical planning boards in particular can help companies avoid the hazards of poor routes and extensive delays by highlighting the best possible times and routes for delivery and pick-up of their assets. 

Scheduling deliveries and pick-ups can also be made more efficient with a modern solution, thanks to IoT’s ability to keep track of delivery teams and equipment at all times. This is vital when it comes to the delivery of complex and expensive equipment as specialist operators are needed to make the delivery. With accurate and real-time knowledge of the equipment and team’s movements, companies can make careful arrangements for the movement of operators and drivers to avoiding incurring additional expenses and reduce the likelihood of theft.

3: Stay connected with mobile access

As mobile solutions are device-agnostic, rental and leasing solutions that introduce mobility allow field staff to use their device of choice to combine operational expertise with mobile access. This provides companies with the opportunity to address operational inefficiency and maintain high levels of quality and security, with minimal additional investment. 

With mobile access, field staff can make instant entries and updates, regardless of their location and without getting delayed by administrative obstacles. This helps companies make prompt decisions to deliver services that are fast and accurate. By meeting the need for immediacy, these solutions also help companies foster greater team and cross-team collaboration to help address potential issues or particular opportunities more efficiently. 

4: Data analytics – let the numbers do the talking

Equipment rental and leasing companies can stay ahead of the competition and safeguard their success with a solution that can gather and analyse data on a granular level. For instance, an ideal solution collects valuable information on market trends at the right time, which businesses can use to make data-driven decisions, such as when to digitally transform to rapidly meet the changing needs of customers. 

Solutions tailored to rental and leasing operations should also collect data on equipment performance and potential to help companies undertake both predictive and preventative maintenance. This enables companies to anticipate issues and come up with resolutions more quickly and, more importantly, before they become a problem. For example, fast access to accurate data can inform users when to schedule repairs or maintenance throughout the rental period without affecting the usage and availability of the asset in service. 

Case in point: Leading rental company where cranes fly high

Take Ainscough, a leading UK crane hire business, as a prime example of how technology can dramatically improve rental and leasing operations. With over 30 depots that cover the length and breadth of the UK and 400 cranes in their fleet, Ainscough sought a solution that could optimise their business processes, maximise usage of their cranes, and increase their profitability. 

Working with Columbus, Ainscough implemented the DynaRent Solutions Suite, which integrates with their core business systems such as Microsoft Dynamics 365. This allows Ainscough to streamline their rental processes, logistics, and overall service and maintenance – meeting targets on time and within budget. For instance, real-time data and dashboards help plan the movement of resources more efficiently and ensures equipment is working at capacity. 

This new deployment also provides accurate data analysis that can be used to better monitor pricing, margins and profitability. For example, if the company finds gaps in the usage of certain crane sizes, pipeline data can determine focus areas where they can convert more opportunities into sales. This granular level of detail will continuously aid data-driven decisions within the company to generate more sales and increase margins.

Time to think digital and adapt to the rapidly changing market

To take advantage of the exponential growth in the market, equipment leasing and rental businesses need to streamline their operations to stay ahead of the competition – and this is where the right solution is crucial. With the latest advances in technology, equipment rental and leasing solutions can now go digital to help companies improve deployment of their resources and increase profitability. Once companies make this digital transition, they can gain more control over their assets to meet the level of service that today’s customers expect and in doing so, safeguard their market position.

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Jun 17, 2021

Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router

3 min
Siemens’ first industrial 5G router, the Scalancer MUM856-1, is now available and will revolutionise the concept of remote control in industry

Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age. 


Siemens Enables 5G IIoT

The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). 

Siemens presents its first industrial 5G router.
Siemens presents the Scalance MUM856-1.

The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.


Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance


  • Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
  • The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
  • A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
  • Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites


5G Now

“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.


Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said. 


Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future

Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’ 


And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.


The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.


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