Digitalisation analysed at Spanish forum
By Belinda Smart01 February 2023
Spanish equipment rental association ASEAMAC’s annual forum in Madrid saw digitalisation emerge as a key discussion point.
More than 200 attendees participated in the event on 26 January, which featured a program of networking and educational sessions.
These included a talk from Tomas Babicky, European Affairs Manager of the European Rental Association (ERA), who shared findings from the ERA’s Impact of Digitalisation report, released 25 January.
He pointed to key drivers of digitalisation in rental, including customer needs and expectations, internal drivers, process automation and machine telematics, OEMs and software providers, as well as sustainability.
He also observed that “customers can be a hurdle in digitalisation, because many contractors are not yet digitalised.”
ERA had identified different customer needs and expectations in terms of digitalisation, depending on company size, he said.
“Large construction companies expect rental companies to be digital. They are looking for new services offered by rental companies; services around data and transparency on how machinery is used and to meet regulatory requirements.
“When you look at medium sized contractors they are much less concerned with data and sustainability,” he said.
“What is driving them most is time savings - they are very busy people, they need rental to be as problem-free as possible; they are not great at digital and they need education from rental companies as to how to interact with digital tools.
“These companies are not so interested in data, and often they have not realised yet that sustainability requirements are going to hit them too.”
Meanwhile for small contractors or sole traders, familiarity with digital tools from consumer facing apps such as booking.com and Uber meant, “They are not afraid to use digital tools and use their credit cards online. There is clearly an opportunity for this segment to offer tools where ease-of-use is a feature.”
Babicky outlined potential responses to the pressure to digitalise.
“Companies can do nothing; they can develop in-house solutions, buy off-the-shelf solution, join an online platform provider, or adopt a hybrid model. Developing your own model costs a lot of money and of course you have to update it regularly. In some cases the hybrid model is an effective solution.”
Looking ahead, he said data captured from digitalisation “will increasingly enable rental companies’ understanding the position of a construction project in its lifecycle enabling them to pre-position assets on site, ready for the next stage of construction activity.”
The rental sector could also expect to see an increase in use-based pricing, and subscription-based service models, he said.
His comments echoed discussion in the forum’s opening session on industry trends - featuring Jörg Bachmann from Lectura and Valero Serentill, Sales Director Spain, Portugal & Central and South America (LATAM) at Ritchie Bros.
Serentill said digitalisation would help better management for improved revenues and utilisation data.
This was critical in Spain he said, where fleet renewal was hampered by the current lack of new equipment for purchase. Meanwhile the green transition was also being slowed in Spain by the perception that investing in low carbon machines would prove too costly, he said.