Britain’s infrastructure revolution will rely on used construction machines
The prime minister has promised £5 billion worth of investments as part of a “new deal” and an “infrastructure revolution.”
However, as the construction industry emerges from the biggest slump since the financial crisis, there is a looming danger of shortages in construction equipment. Here, Grant Pearce, head of rental and used equipment at Finning UK and Ireland, exclusive distributor of Caterpillar® products in the UK and Ireland, argues that used machines play an important part in the recovery of the construction industry.
The construction sector saw its turnover fall by 40.1 per cent in April, compared to March 2020, and represented the biggest drop since monthly records began in 2010. Apart from the new £5 billion pledge, the UK government published a procurement pipeline worth £37 billion, including large projects such as HS2.
As the lockdown measures put in place to fight COVID-19 are relaxed, businesses in the construction sector are gearing up to restart work. The result will be a marked increase in demand for construction equipment.
A sharp upsurge in orders for machinery could mean bottlenecks and shortages across the industry. Whilst many dealers such as Finning continue to have excellent new machine availability, the urgent need for equipment presents an opportunity to consider buying a used Caterpillar machine.
Purchasing used construction equipment can be daunting because it throws up many difficult questions. Who sells the right model? Has it been serviced properly? Has it got any hidden faults that will be expensive to fix?
What to look out for
The questions that arise when buying a used construction machine are not dissimilar to buying a used car. There is a saying among people who trade used cars that “you buy the owner, not the car.” This dictum also holds true with construction equipment, which is why many companies prefer to hire or buy new models. Yet just as with cars, there is the option to buy certified used machines, with the option to include service contracts and a warranty.
The journey to a certified used Caterpillar machine frequently starts with a highly trained engineer. Their advice is invaluable when buying a used machine, or when exchanging one. For instance, Scott Davis is the designated used equipment inspector for Finning UK and Ireland. He is part of a team of machine inspectors who know the soul of every Caterpillar machine and can tell exactly which parts will last how long.
Scott’s recommendation is potential customers should look for the Cat® certified used label. These machines have undergone a rigorous inspection and have been serviced with genuine Caterpillar parts. Equipment with up to 5000 operating hours can be sold as certified used.
Caterpillar machines purchased under the certified used scheme are covered by a Caterpillar warranty of between one and three years. Such a warranty offers the peace of mind that major repair bills are covered. Moreover, used machines can be bought with five different levels of service contracts to spread maintenance costs and avoid unexpected service bills.
24/7 remote monitoring
Once your machine is up and running, it is constantly monitored by a team of experts, who have access to telematic data from around 12,000 Caterpillar machines. They monitor variables including running time, gear changes, oil pressure and fuel burn. If an engine overheats, a Finning technician calls the customer to help.
With the help of a constant stream of data from the fleet of Caterpillar equipment, Finning engineers can schedule preventive maintenance and servicing. This can be imagined as a pre-emptive strike, which means replacing a part that is worn before it is about to break. Such repairs save the customer time and money by reducing unscheduled downtime.
The wealth of sensor data generated by modern machines offers a range of benefits. Customers can track through a dashboard the performance and location of their entire fleet. This tool helps fleet managers increase performance, ensure that safety guidelines are followed and optimise their asset allocation.
Finning offers the option to geofence equipment, which sounds an alarm when a machine leaves the defined area and is designed to prevent theft. All these technologies can be installed in most certified used Caterpillar machines that were built after 2016.
The level of service and modern technology that go into a used Caterpillar will help the construction industry recover from the recent downturn in an innovative and cost-effective way. Used machines are going to play a vital part in the “infrastructure revolution” that the prime minister has promised.