If you ask any American contractor if they have ever dabbled in “operated plant” or “wet hire” before, you will likely see a confused or amused look on their face. These synonymous offerings refer to when a contractor pays for the rental of complex earthmoving machinery, plus the skill of the operator to move the required material for the project. This construction industry offering has been popularized in commonwealth countries such as the United Kingdom, India, and Australia. Today, this trend of equipment operated rental (EOR) is spreading across regions of the USA as an acceptably advantageous strategy for moving material.
Phase 1 of a construction project involves the earthwork. Typically, this is a competitive bid process that is awarded to the contractor who can move the material at the lowest cost per cubic yard. Traditionally, the advantage goes to the contractor with the most efficient earthmoving equipment fleet, with the best operators. This leaves some contractors unequipped for the competition with the increased overhead of owning an efficient earthmoving fleet and professional operators. The equalizing ace up the sleeve for bidding contractors, however, could be EOR.
There are appealing advantages to Equipment Operated Rentals, where the skill of the operator is often the key to the success and profitability of the project. There is no need to train a crew on how to perfectly load machines to the ideal capacity/efficiency balance. EOR allows for maximum production right from the start of the project, with no learning curve of operation. It also removes the concern that haphazard machine operation may cause downtime.
The contractor can have peace of mind knowing that their earthmoving needs are taken care of, and that they are paying for the desired result. All the contractor needs to provide is freight costs to get the machine to their jobsite, along with diesel and def fluid for keeping the machines running. Generally, all-in Equipment Operated Rental rates including operator, truck/tractor, and scraper charge under $300USD/hour for high-capacity, earthmoving expertise.
A contractor may feel tempted to trim down this hourly rate by just renting the machine and using their own operator, commonly referred to as “dry hire” of plant rental. However, it may take several weeks for the operator to become efficient and comfortable, whereas an Equipment Operated Rental package will be productive from day one.
The capital cost investment of purchasing a complete earthmoving fleet is often prohibitive for smaller contractors, so testing the waters of an EOR program is a smart way to gain immediate productivity and profitability. Once the contractor is ready for a fleet investment, they already have the confidence to purchase their own power-unit and scraper combination.
NDK Scrapers from Spencer, Ohio runs a fleet of over 40 AGCO Challenger tracked tractors pulling K-Tec 28 cubic yard scrapers and currently offers Equipment Operated Rentals in 8 states including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Indiana, Michigan, and Maryland. Owner Nick Kostecki believes that the combination of efficient machinery, plus the best trained operators is what makes a difference to the contractor’s bottom line. When it comes to EOR, Kostecki feels “The key is to have good operators for a productive operation.” When you see his crew at work, you understand the pride he takes in providing the best. Reflecting on his EOR offering, Kostecki stated, “I take on that common construction industry burden from the contractor. We need to train, train, train, train and then train these scraper operators to be the most efficient earthmoving crew to provide that competitive advantage.”
Texas is another state that has caught onto the popularization of Equipment Operated Rentals for earthmoving projects. Material Producers Construction Services, the MPCS division of ROMCO pairs a fleet of Volvo 6 x 6 Articulated Trucks with K-Tec’s larger 37 cubic yard and 28 cubic yard ADT Scrapers. The K-Tec 37 cubic yard scraper is ideal for larger jobsites. If conditions are optimum with long distance hauls, a two scraper in tandem (that can move 74 cubic yard in a single pass) is the answer, because everything is bigger in Texas! ROMCO Equipment Company Owner, Robert Mullins comments that “We wanted to give our customers the most cost-effective way to move dirt in Texas with a scraper being pulled by an articulated truck.”
Ken Craig, EOR Division Manager for MPCS ROMCO says “What I would like to share concerning our EOR program is, Our operators love the fact that we’re pulling the K-Tec scrapers with our Volvo trucks as opposed to conventional scrapers. The comfort for the operator far exceeds what you would get in a typical competitor’s piece of equipment. I would recommend K-Tec to anybody that’ll listen because they have proven in our program to be the best that’s on the market today.” A comfortable and satisfied operator takes pride in their equipment, which translates into a reliable earthmoving job well done.
Contractors looking for an edge in their industry should investigate Equipment Operated Rentals as a complete earthmoving solution if it is available in their state. A massive advantage can be gained by lowering the cost per cubic yard of moving material, with no capital investment into equipment, or intensive training programs for operators. Likewise, equipment dealerships may also consider setting up their own EOR program as an offering in their territory for enhanced profitability and service offering to their customers. The trends of earthmoving are shifting towards extreme efficiency, and the growing popularity of Equipment Operated Rental programs are advancing the charge of profitable jobsite productivity.
For more information on Equipment Operated Rental Programs, visit ndkscrapers.com and romco.com/equipment-operated-rentals/