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14 October 2020

A Sense Of Ownership | Angus Lindsay | Pro Landscaper

Could hiring equipment be encouraging a throwaway culture? idverde’s Head of Assets and Fleet, Angus Lindsay, says we need to care for kit, not just replace it, even if it’s old.

It’s interesting to see how the events of this year have made us re-evaluate our need for new machines and vehicles. We have managed to keep going with the same equipment as last year, albeit with a bit more cost to overhaul or refurbish some of the older kit, but when replacements simply weren’t available what option did we have? This is where those who have looked after their equipment come into their own; a bit of care when operating and a proactive approach to preventative maintenance has meant that they have kept things going with little or no fuss.

On the flip side are those who treat their equipment as a disposable commodity and relegate it to the scrap pile as soon as it stops working or something better comes along. You’d be amazed how many times I hear that something is old and knackered, when in essence all it needs is a good service and bushes replaced for it to give another couple of seasons’ service. So where does this throw-away attitude come from? Or have people just got complacent over the years and started to treat their brush-cutter or rotavator the same as their mobile phone or TV? It is fair to say that operations relying solely on hire equipment do get themselves into a world where, when a machine breaks down, it is replaced by another, and things just keep rolling along, until before they know it they have had a £450 hedge cutter on hire for a couple of years that they could have bought ten times over.

Don’t get me wrong, the hire companies around the country provide a valuable service and are a lifeline when equipment breaks down, is stolen, or there is a need for a specialist piece of kit. But it can be very easy to let the costs runaway if you don’t keep control. Some will argue that the cost of the hire is included in the job, which is fine, and there are many situations where changes in requirements dictate that hire is the best and only option. The trick is not to become wholly reliant on it, and to constantly review what you have on hire and how it’s being used. Embracing hire for too long can make the transition to ownership a difficult and costly process, especially if people are used to returning a broken machine and picking up a replacement.

The concept of ownership is applicable to many aspects of what we do in our daily lives, and if not embraced then the “not my responsibility” brigade will soon be in control and nothing will get done. Maybe I am just getting old and expecting too much from people in the forlorn hope that they can think for themselves, but I do find it exasperating that certain elements think the way to address a problem is to get someone else to do it for them. How will people learn if they don’t take a certain amount of ownership and work things out for themselves? If we are all relying on somebody else to sort out the problem then how soon will it be before that circle closes and nothing gets done!

As the UK grain harvest started in late July, I found it somewhat heartening that in a field of barley being cut by a brand new Claas combine, the grain was being carted off and the straw baled by Ford tractors with an average age of around 30 years – true ownership.


Angus’s article is also published in the October 2020 issue of Pro Landscaper magazine.