Canadian Rental Service

Editorial: June 2012

Patrick Flannery   

Features Business Intelligence

We need to keep an eye on developing technology.

We need to keep an eye on developing technology.

There was an interesting article on about a prototype tractor-trailer powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The interesting part was not so much the technology itself but the fact that it had been successfully applied in a fully functioning vehicle with an acceptable price, performance and range. I was also interested to read the price comparisons in the article showing the cost of the hydrogen that powers the truck to be about one-third the cost of diesel fuel. The big limitation would appear to be the scarcity of hydrogen filling stations.

That is, unless you are a rental operator renting hydrogen-powered equipment. For a short-term rental during which the equipment would probably not even go through its entire fuel supply, it seems this hydrogen thing could really work. You would have a hydrogen filling station in your yard (what kind of safety training would be necessary for that?) and fill up the equipment there. Customers would simply return to your yard if they needed a refill – no more inconvenient than going to a gas station, in most cases. The customer would get a nearly silent piece of machinery that produces no emissions except water vapour and costs less to run than gasoline. You would have a machine with fewer moving parts and maintenance requirements that would fly over any emissions regulation on the planet. You would also have a machine that is pretty much impossible to steal, since the thief cannot get it filled anywhere else. Yes, there would be a learning curve associated with operating, maintaining and repairing a hydrogen power plant, but the benefits could be worth the effort.

This is pretty far-out stuff. Still, we must look to the future or else it seems hard to imagine how we might progress. The cover story this month is about a man who leveraged his love of machinery and expertise with advanced technology into a winning business in a tough market. What if Paul Ravary, in 1982, had decided that computers were the stuff of science fiction and waved them off as irrelevant to his business? There would be one less top rental operator in Quebec, that’s what.


I think Canada’s rental operators need to keep at least one eye on the upcoming technology trends or risk losing a march. This month, we have another article from the tech-savvy James Chliboyko on how to configure your marketing for the mobile revolution by creating a mobile-friendly version of your company web page. Also, check out the link on to the story about the exoskeleton developed by Japanese students to help people lift heavy things. Now there’s the rental product of the future.

Speaking of the future, CRA president Ed Dwyer explains what the ARA is doing to help rental operators take advantage of social media and digital marketing in his President’s Message on page 16. My friends and I are just a little too old to bother with social media very much, but just about everyone younger than me almost exclusively uses Facebook, Twitter and texting to communicate. They are your customers of the future. Better start talking to them now.

Next issue: Our skid steer product showcase will feature all the latest developments from your top suppliers. No hydrogen-powered models have been submitted yet.

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