Q&A: the pros and cons of renting T&M equipment

Author : André Vandenberk, General Manager at Electro Rent Europe

13 September 2017

As technology evolves, even everyday devices are becoming ever more complex, with electronics, connectivity and intelligence being built into ‘smart’ versions of virtually everything we own or use. This increases demands on R&D and test functions, necessitating a wide range of specialist test equipment and making it vital that it is kept up to date and fit for purpose. This can be a challenge for companies investing in T&M kit – and renting can provide an alternative option.

This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Electronic Product Design & Test; to view the digital edition, click here – and to register to receive your own printed copy, click here.

1. Why should companies rent test & measurement equipment, rather than buy?

First of all, when you rent, you’re optimising your test and measurement budget, and the latest technology is available to you whenever you need it. Also, it’s ideal for bridging the gap when your own equipment is not available, whether that’s due to repairs, calibration, or when your team is facing an unexpected peak in testing workload.

We see the world of engineering evolving to fit a more project-based way of thinking, and renting suits this approach perfectly. It gives the project team a clear view of their expenditure and offers them the benefit of using the latest and best equipment available for their projects. Why drag old test gear with irrelevant features into current projects This doesn’t have to be the case when you rent equipment.

Another advantage is the flexibility that rental brings to the customer: it offers the chance to easily increase or decrease the amount of test equipment available to the engineers. Next to that, we are able to exchange broken units very quickly. Our clients often talk of large improvements in uptime after they opt for T&M rental.

An often overlooked secondary advantage of renting is the reduction of ‘the risk of getting it wrong’. We observe that many companies spend a great deal of valuable engineering time selecting a new high-end tester for purchase (including demos, product evaluations and trials). When a company instead chooses renting as their approach, this risk is reduced to almost zero (if you get it wrong, you just send the unit back and select another one). This way, the engineer’s time is put to best use.

2. What trends have you noticed in the European market and what is the outlook?

In Europe, the overall ratio of rented versus purchased equipment is still relatively small. But companies are increasingly looking to optimise their test and measurement budgets, and we believe rental is starting to play a more dominant role in the mix. This will definitely help the faster turnaround of new technologies and the increasing complexity and specifics of testing.

Our market is growing and developing despite the economic challenges of our times. In the last decade, renting test equipment has become more common; however, the degree of penetration varies all over Europe. The maturity of the market differs from country to country. From a rental standpoint, some markets are more advanced than others. This is, in part, due to the perception of ownership and the acquisition culture of that country in our sector. For some companies, acquisition is embedded in their project procedures, where other companies are more open to alternative options.

Currently, the demand all over Western Europe is greatly boosted by technology – for example, the current rollout of 4G and fibre optic networks, and with it, the shift in consumer base, from service providers to contractors. Across the continent, rapid technological change is the driving force that presents opportunities for us: this fast-paced growth pushes companies to consider alternative approaches – and that’s where we come in.

3. What is your target group for renting?

We only supply our services to businesses and registered entrepreneurs. Therefore our target group covers a large range, from small enterprises to big international firms. The one thing they all have in common is the fact that they are all in some way involved in research and development. This can be in the field of RF and microwave, digital design, wireless or wireline I&M (installation & maintenance), industrial or general purpose.

We have made it our core business to help companies increase their flexibility when it comes to the utilisation of electronic test equipment. This ranges from a wide range of basic instruments to very high-end equipment like 110 GHz VNAs. For example, one of the things that surprised me most when I started in this business is the amount of general purpose equipment we rent out: you would be amazed how many DC power supplies are out on rent at any given time!

We service clients from all over Europe, the Far East and Africa – from our European office in Mechelen, Belgium and our UK branch office. Our clients are generally fully aware of the cost of ownership of new equipment. They are seeking to reduce these costs, and yet, they don’t want to compromise on quality. With our multiple rental options, we offer enough choice, so it is a colourful pick-and-mix, with something for everyone.

Our clients are generally fully aware of the cost of ownership of new equipment. They are seeking to reduce these costs, and yet, they don’t want to compromise on quality. With our multiple rental options, we offer enough choice, so it is a colourful pick-and-mix, with something for everyone.

4. What kind of guarantee and support needs to be offered?

When renting equipment from us, the client can be sure that the instruments are checked, calibrated and ready to use. With the amount of equipment that we ship every day, we make it our core asset to always be available for our clients whether it be via phone or email. With our full service solutions we want to assure the quality and reliability of our equipment to the maximum.

Our support and service teams make sure that customers encounter minimal downtime when equipment fails or needs calibration, by setting up exchanges with similar units available from our stock.The client can expect fast delivery of the replacement unit – mostly within a business day.

5. What differentiates you from your competitors?

We focus on providing immediate availability of a wide variety of fully calibrated premium brand electronic test equipment for our customers.

Our sales teams are trained to quickly help our customers find equipment that fits their requirements. Our lab and logistics teams make sure that the equipment gets to the customer fast and in top condition – and, finally, our support team consistently maximises uptime.

As well as the obvious advantage of having the highest value, broadest scope and depth of rental stock available for our customers, we have set the bar at a very high level as far as quality and customer experience is concerned. And this is what differentiates us from the competition.

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