Interview: United Rentals on why access management is a key to success
12 February 2024
United Rentals is taking big steps in improving safety, security and efficiency on today’s jobsites with the recent introduction of its Access Management system that enables control of access to jobsites and equipment through RFID badges.
The solution, which works via United’s cloud-based worksite management platform Total Control, connects jobsite access with equipment access management through user profile data and an RFID tag. To find out more, we connected with Tony Leopold, senior vice president of strategy & digital, United Rentals. Here’s what he had to say.
Rental Briefing: Tell us about your new access management solution and what it provides to customers?
Leopold: The next generation of access management connects people and equipment through RFID badges. Where access management keypads are installed, one can scan the badge - instead of inputting PIN codes - to access the equipment. The solution is compatible with various third-party workforce management solutions that register workers and issue RFID badges for site access. Administrators can upload user information from existing workforce management systems to our cloud-based worksite management platform, Total Control, which enables equipment access management based on user profile data.
Rental Briefing: Why is improved equipment access management important to project owners and contractors in creating a smarter, safer jobsite?
Leopold: Safety on the worksite is the top priority. Third-party access management solutions help ensure that only registered and authorized individuals can access the site. United Rentals has connected the data and badges from these third parties to a wide range of turnstiles, fencing, and vehicle access control rental products to secure the site perimeter. We partner closely with leading turnstile and site access solution providers, including Portable Solutions Group (PSG), to provide a turn-key solution.
Once safe access to the site is established, we focus on safe equipment operation. Access control helps reduce unauthorized equipment use by people who may not have the appropriate training. It also averts theft and unauthorized “borrowing” by other contractors on site.
Access management also increases productivity. Our next-generation solution provides worker-specific utilization data by machine. This can increase accountability and help track who is actually using the equipment, when, and for how long. If equipment is shared across contractors, we can track usage by company and work with customers to allocate the rental costs in Total Control. This is a popular solution on our largest projects as it reduces the number of machines onsite -- creating a simpler, more productive, and more sustainable working environment.
Rental Briefing: Why is it important for rental providers to go beyond equipment and provide customers with digital solutions?
Leopold: Quite simply, projects are becoming larger and more complex, and our customers are looking for solutions to help them work more safely, productively and sustainably. We started over a decade ago installing telematics on our equipment and this enabled us to help customers improve utilization and reduce cost. We are continuing that legacy and expanding our solution set for worksite performance broadly speaking.
By capturing data on workers and the site itself, we can provide increased visibility and important insights to help our customers make better decisions. We are still a rental company at our core, but our digital solutions enable United Rentals to differentiate itself as the leader in worksite performance solutions.
Rental Briefing: It seems like data has become an essential component of the jobsite toolset. How can equipment rental companies help customers address this need?
Leopold: I’ve shared about how we are using data across workers and machines to improve safety and productivity. Another important area equipment rental providers need to focus on is maximizing equipment uptime. One way to accomplish this is through telematics, which can help our customers easily find fleet and ensure that it is well maintained. United Rentals has the largest fleet of telematics-enabled equipment – over 370K units at our last count.
We have developed a system of text SMS and email notifications that can improve uptime, such as overdue maintenance, low fuel or battery, low fluids, and many other alerts. With machines where we have advanced telematics installed, we can remotely diagnose issues and service the equipment before it breaks down. There is a lot happening on a large project, so customers appreciate push notifications that help them manage exceptions and get ahead of problems before they slow down the work onsite.
Rental Briefing: Access management is part of a suite of site mobilization solutions United Rentals offers customers. What other capabilities are there?
Leopold: United Rentals has an unmatched offering for site mobilization. We have several products to help secure the perimeter of the site including fencing, turnstiles, and vehicle access control. We also offer offices, containers, temporary Power and HVAC solutions, fluid containment, portable restrooms, UTVs, and many other products that provide the temporary infrastructure for workers on the site.
In our larger projects, we often build out a temporary onsite United Rentals branch to stage and service equipment so it is ready to go when needed. Our goal is to provide a one-stop-shop solution for our general contractor customers responsible for the overall site.