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Crane Hires vs. Purchases: Which Option Is Best for You?

Cranes are among the most useful of the multi-purpose heavy machines, with numerous applications throughout business and industry.  From assisting on construction sites, to doing the literal heavy lifting when adding large objects – such as air conditioning units – to the roofs of buildings, cranes are genuinely invaluable. If you’re in a business or industry where you deal with cranes a lot, one very big question will come up: should you buy your own crane, or rely on crane hire companies for rentals?

In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of crane ownership, as well as why – in most situations – crane rental is going to be the better option.

The Pros and Cons of Owning Your Own Crane

The most obvious benefit to owning a crane, of course, is that you have total control over the crane and its use.  As such, while cranes are a significant expenditure, it should eventually start bringing in real ROI, at least as long as the crane is properly maintained in the meantime.

However, it could potentially be years before that ROI materializes.  Even small cranes cost five figures, and large models can easily run into the millions.  So, a company would need to be using their crane constantly, for years, before the investment would pay for itself.  Still, cranes can last for decades with proper maintenance.

That maintenance will add substantially to the cost as well, especially as OSHA has strict regulations on how often the crane must be inspected and maintained, relative to its use.  Other associated expenses include permits, licensing, insurance, and maintaining training and licensing for your equipment operators as well.

Another factor to consider is storage.  The crane must have a safe place to stay when not in use, and that can require a huge hangar-style facility.  There are, of course, more costs associated with these storage facilities.

In addition, the crane will need a method of transportation.  Small cranes may be mounted on a truck or might even be light enough to drive directly on roads, depending on local regulations.  However, midsized cranes on up will require dedicated transportation, such as a flatbed trailer hauled by a semi.  Particularly oversized cranes will create significant logistical challenges and expenses just moving them from one place to another.

It is worth mentioning that, in many cases, all these various expenses can be deducted from your taxes to receive a tax benefit that may partially offset the costs.  Also, cranes do hold substantial resell value if they’re in good condition.  There will be the possibility of recouping some of your expenses should you need to sell, or you want to upgrade to another crane.

In short, the best candidate for buying a crane would be a company that:

  • Performs a specific type of lifting job consistently throughout the working year
  • Has the money and resources for maintenance, fees, and other upkeep
  • Has dedicated trained/licensed equipment operators
  • Has on-site storage and repair facilities, as well as transportation options
  • Is looking towards a 20+ year total life-cycle for the crane, its TCO, and ROI

If this doesn’t describe your operation, then crane hires may make a lot more sense.

The Benefits to Renting Cranes as Needed

For most companies, particularly those who only occasionally use cranes, hiring cranes rather than owning them will be the more beneficial option.

Probably the biggest benefit to crane hires is that you get access to a huge range of options.  A crane rental company will have a large number of cranes in different sizes and configurations available, so that the crane rented can be matched exactly to the job being done.  This gives you a lot more flexibility in the types of jobs you do, compared to owning a crane which will only be suited for a small number of specific tasks.

This is a particularly critical point for general contractors looking to take on a variety of jobs.  Crane hires will let you accept a lot more work.

Likewise, since crane hire companies will be constantly updating their available fleet, you’ll be able to always take advantage of the newest in crane technology.  If you own your own crane, you’ll likely be looking at 20+ years of ownership, even if better models come out in the meantime.

Also, when you rent your cranes, you are responsible for none of the maintenance and upkeep.  Repairs, upgrades, licensing, insurance, training…  you don’t have to worry about any of them.  You simply get the crane you need, for the length of time you need it, without any additional expenses beyond the rental fee.

Additionally, most crane rental companies will include trained operators and riggers, as needed, although it is important to verify this point.  If you do have trained operators on your team, you may also be able to hire the crane standalone, depending on the company you work with.

Likewise, nearly any crane rental operation will handle transportation logistics themselves, and that can be a lifesaver – particularly when dealing with larger cranes.  If they’re too large to comfortably fit on the road, the process of transporting one to a work site becomes a major logistical challenge all on its own, often requiring extensive pre-planning.

The only other expense you might incur when renting a crane involves insurance.  The split between insurance on the crane, and other work site related insurance, can sometimes be a bit complicated.  This is a point which you’ll want to discuss and negotiate carefully, before officially hiring the crane.

Otherwise, the only major drawback to crane rentals is that you are at the mercy of the market, and if other companies have rented the crane model(s) you need, you’ll be out of luck.  That said, once you establish a working relationship with a crane rental company, you can usually schedule crane hires well ahead of time to avoid this.

In short, crane hires are going to make sense for a wider variety of companies, with a wider variety of needs.

Bobcat Contracting Has the Cranes You Need

If crane ownership isn’t for you, Bobcat Contracting is your best option for crane hires in Texas and Oklahoma.  We have a long history of successful work with industries ranging from general contractors to oil-and-gas operations, and we have without doubt one of the best safety records in the industry.  With Bobcat on your team, you will know that your job site and your workforce are in good hands.

Or, if you own your own crane, we also provide repair, inspection, and maintenance services on demand.  Our rigging experts are also available for hire, as needed.

For the best in cranes and crane-related services, just contact us to discuss your needs.

Bobcat Contracting: PO Box 663 • 1721 HCR 3106 • Hillsboro, Texas 76645 • T: 254.582.0205 • F: 866.582.3199 • E: office@bobcatcontracting.com Bobcat Crane, L.L.C.: 20880 FM 2854 • Montgomery, Texas 77316 • T: 936.597.5448