Environmental Monitoring Equipment: Should You Rent or Purchase?

Environmental Monitoring Equipment: Should You Rent or Purchase?

Rent or Buy Your Environmental Monitoring Equipment: A Perspective from the Trenches
Among environmental professionals, there has always been a major question when it comes to the equipment used every day. Should the equipment such as PIDs, water meters, dedicated bailers be rented or bought? While ownership does have it’s privleges, there are some decided advantages to renting the equipment that is used by environmental consultants.

Access to the Best and Latest Technology
One of the most useful advantages to renting equipment is that you can have access to the latest and greatest of technology. Many companies specializing in renting equipment have the ability to provide you with a wide assortment of technology meeting the most current and stringent standards. While a purchase can become outdated in a matter of years or even months, your rental equipment is current technology or even cutting edge. Imagine, having the latest version of a four-gas meter, helping you make certain that the excavation is safe.

In addition, renting equipment from a reputable firm allows you, the environmental consultant to enjoy straight from the factory performance without the headaces and cost of maintence and calibrations. In addition, you don’t have to worry about long term storage; simply pack it up and ship it back.

Increase Project Efficiency and Your Bottom Line
One of the “hidden” advantages to renting environmental equipment versus making a purchase is the cost to the project budget and the chance for redunancy. For example, let’s say you have a project which needs a Horiba U-22 multi parameter water meter. So you go out and spend the money to buy one. Once that project is over, the costs associated with that piece of equipment do not end. There is the cost to store it, the cost of regular calibration, of routine maintenance, of software or firmware updates, even the cost to potentially upgrade the equipment when your current version becomes obselete. Add to these costs the fact that it isn’t guaranteed that you’ll have a project again which will need the same parameters measured. That “one time cost” presented by many manufacturers can quickly become much more than you bargained for.

However, if you were to rent that same U-22 Horiba meter, the financial strains on your company would be much less, and much more predictable. You’d have to pay a rental rate, either by the day, by the week, or by the month, and you might have to pay for shipping of the equipment both ways. You wouldn’t have to worry about storage, or costly maintenance or repair, or even searching out and getting the latest proven upgrade. Since you know upfront what you’ll be spending, and getting for your money, you can better estimate your project budget, and make sure that everything is done in the most cost effective way for your Client. After all, a Client that is satisfied with your work is more likely to be a repeat Customer.

Access to Technical Expertise
Just about every environmental consultant who works in the field has run into a situation like this: You’re miles from civilization, out in the middle of 200 arces of weeds and overgrowth, taking temperature and dissolved oxygen readings on a small pond, one of the dozen or so you have to measure during that day. And then the readings begin to come back a little odd. Or the screen on the PDA begins to invent strange, new letters and numbers. Or perhaps the meter has gotten inexplicably wedged somewhere in the muck at the bottom of the lake. Bottom line is, you need some expert help, and you need it right away. So who can you call?

With a piece of rental equipment, it is in the vested interest of both you and the rental company to keep the equipment performing in top condition. Therefore, when things happen, as they always do, a quality rental agency will have trained people who have worked with the equipment in the field to guide you through strange readings, a finicky PDA, or even just coach you in how to do a quick clean and calibration of the sensors. Can you say for certain that you’ll have the same real-time access to technical expertise on that equipment purchase that you made three years ago? Or has the maintenace plan expired? And how much would that phone call cost you, even if you found the necessary information? By renting equipment, you gain access to the technical support that you need, specifically geared to the equipment that you are using. A simple phone call is there to help you get your meter working, and your project back on track.

Choosing the Right Rental Company
Perhaps one of the most important things to remember about renting environmental equipment, even from a reputable source is that you are not only getting the equipment, but forming a relationship with the rental company. Just like your other business relationships, it is a good idea to choose them based on a number of criteria. However, you should know that not all rental equipment companies operate under the same standard of quality and expertise. Furthermore, price isn’t the only thing that a consultant should consider when renting equipment. So you saved $5 off the daily rate of a PID from “Cut Rate Rentals, Inc.”; how much did you you really save when you get to your jobsite and the PID doesn’t work or is out of calibration? The drill crew is standing around and the Client is wondering why the project is being delayed.

By doing the proper research, including talking with collegues outside your company, reading reviews and technical papers, an environmental consultant should be able to choose a rental supplier who will not only provide the quality and expertise that they need, but also at a reasonable cost. Don’t be afraid to call up your potential rental supplier and ask them specific questions, both about their pricing and expertise. A quality rental agency will be more than willing to answer your questions and have an open dialogue. In addition, be sure to watch out for the companies that wish to make a quick sale, or attempt to pressure you by offering a “limited time offer” or “exclusive deal” on price. Chances are if they can offer a significantly lower price, other areas of their services might suffer. It’s better to have a solid, respectful business relationship with a reputable rental company than having multiple relationships with those that cannot satisfy your rental and business needs.

Of course, these are just a few of the reasons why renting environmental monitoring equipment could be a more cost effective choice for your company. The majority of the time, renting equipment allows you to provide your Client with the specialized consulting and field work that he wants, at a price that will encourage him to become a repeat Customer. Add to that the fact that a rental agreement is often less costly than the long term costs of a purchase, an increase in your company’s bottom line is sure to come into focus.

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