The future for rental is bright…and digital

Dec 7, 2021 | ERA news

The commercial landscape is being transformed by the impact of digitalisation and the virtual delivery of products and services.

This transformation has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic with physical facilities such as shops, showrooms and rental locations being either closed or severely limited in their ability to engage with customers in a traditional business model, leading to a rapid rise in online business models and significant challenges for those businesses that have not embraced new digital ways of operating.

Digitalisation is not just about transforming a business’s route to the market. It is as much about the collection, analysis and use of data, and using artificial intelligence to analyse data, to develop tailored offerings and micro-target existing and potential customers.

The European equipment rental industry is as much affected by this transformation as any other industry, and the digital transformation is a process that most companies are currently undergoing or will be facing in the near future. At the same time, there are good examples of companies that have started on the digital journey and which could inspire others in the rental industry.


The ERA Convention 2021: ‘Smart Rental’, held recently in Amsterdam, looked at ways in which data is improving the customer experience and how digital technologies are transforming rental businesses.

‘Smart’ rental companies are using data and digitalisation to deliver added value to their customers, helping them to better manage their projects, enabling them to work more efficiently and enhancing their safety:

  • Telematics and GPS tracking reduce downtime and lower labour costs, make it easier to manage and monitor a fleet, and enhance the productivity of the equipment.
  • Remote tracking means that rental companies can diagnose and repair equipment efficiently and effectively.
  • The right data at the right time informs better decision-making and helps optimise a jobsite, improving safety and productivity.
  • Data benchmarking provides additional insights about how to improve and how to compare to the competitors.

Furthermore, digitalisation enables rental companies to provide a more efficient booking, delivery and billing service, with new ways of charging for the equipment use, from pay per service and pay as you go to stand by and pay per use.

Ultimately, this means that rental companies can provide a better customer experience with reduced costs, more efficient processes, improved safety and more productive equipment.


The current state of digital transformation in the rental industry can be defined as heterogeneous, with different companies and different markets going at different speeds. The digitalisation process has implications beyond commercial and operational aspects of a business – be it human resources, information security, the Internet of Things and so on – and there is a need in the rental industry for clarity and awareness about what the process of digital transformation entails.

In recognition of this and to promote awareness, engagement and action within the rental industry, ERA is starting work on a new project on the impact of the digital transformation on the rental business.

The chief aim of this ERA project is to raise awareness among rental companies in Europe about the challenges and benefits of digital transformation and provide elements of best practice on the journey towards a successful digital transformation.

The project will be steered by ERA’s Future Group and will be undertaken by epi Consulting. Because of its transversality, all ERA Committees will be involved in this project.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact the ERA team at [email protected].

This article was first published in the Construction Europe (November 2021).

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