For the purposes of this report, the UK plant hire market includes two major sectors, namely the hire of heavy plant and equipment (plant hire), mainly for the heavy construction industry, and the hire of tools and small items of plant and equipment (tool hire), used in both the construction and DIY sectors.
The plant hire sector includes the hire of plant and equipment with or without operators. The plant and equipment in this sector of the market includes:
- heavy earthmoving equipment, including large off-road vehicles, such as excavators and dump trucks, used in major civil engineering projects and open cast mining
- medium-sized earthmoving equipment, including construction vehicles, mainly used in civil engineering contracts, such as dumper trucks, bulldozers, scrapers, rollers, excavators and mobile cranes
- specialist plant mainly used in major civil engineering projects, including ore crushers, sand and gravel silos as well as static cement mixers and pumps
- general plant, including fork lift trucks, diggers, large generators, compressors and compressed air tools, small dump trucks and floodlighting. This type of plant is mainly utilised in general building work, house building and industrial building
- static cranes, including tower cranes used in major building projects. These are usually hired with a qualified operator for long term periods
- powered access platforms, including hydraulic or electric power platforms used in industrial and civil engineering projects and maintenance
- plant and equipment for specific sectors, such as airport and rail maintenance or oil and gas exploration
- agricultural machinery, including harvesting and sorting machinery as well as machinery for forestry and logging. In the agricultural machinery sector, equipment such as tractors tend to be owned outright by farmers, as these are required for continuous use, while machinery such as harvesters, balers and sorters are only used for a short period each year and are therefore often more economic to hire rather than buy
- temporary accommodation, such as mobile toilets, fencing and tool sheds
- conventional scaffolding, often provided by specialist firms, which also provide the assembly and dismantling of the scaffolding, particularly in major projects. A typical hire period for conventional scaffolding is believed to range from one week to one month
- access platforms, including non-powered self-assembly towers and platforms
- skips and demolition equipment, such as rubbish chutes and mini conveyors often used in projects involved with building refurbishment.
The tool hire sector includes the hire of smaller plant and equipment, usually without an operator. The average hire period in this sector is typically less than a week. The following equipment is included in this sector:
- power tools, including belt sanders, paving cutters, heavy duty angle grinders and chain saws. These are hired by large scale operators involved in major civil engineering projects, as well as private firms and DIY enthusiasts
- lifting and movement equipment, such as pallet trucks, scissor lift platforms, chain blocks, hoists and stair climbers. These are often hired for one off use for moving large objects
- mini plant, including bobcats, narrow excavators, machinery for ground preparation, portable generators, concrete and cement mixers as well as mobile heating units. This type of equipment is generally hired by private building operators rather than major civil engineering companies
- traffic control systems, including mobile traffic lights, road markers, barriers and cones, generally used by small road maintenance contractors.
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