Low crane rental rates risk long-term harm

Current low crane rental rates in Europe are unsustainable and risk doing the industry and its clients long term damage by limiting investment in technology and skills, ESTA Director Ton Klijn has warned.

He called on the industry to consider moving away from traditional rental work an increasing the number of contract lifts – where the rental company takes responsibility for managing, planning and supervising the lift, as well as providing the crane and operator. 

Such an arrangement allows the crane rental company to use its knowledge and expertise to take more responsibility from the client – and of course to charge more as a result

Speaking this week, Klijn said: “The European crane rental market is in reasonable shape in terms of workload although there is a declining number of very big projects 

“But the main problem from our members’ point of view is that rental rates are at a historically low level and in my view are unsustainable.

“In real terms they are lower than they were in the 1970s and even a successful company with full utilization can’t make any money.”

He added: “In the short term, clients might benefit from such low prices. But in the long term they affect investment at all levels in the industry from those in new technologies and equipment through to training and skills. 

“Ultimately in the future our industry’s clients will pay a price in terms of lower quality, reduced efficiency and poorer performance.”

Certainly, as an industry, we need to raise rates to give us the room to make a reasonable return and to invest in the future.