The sharing concept represented by rental, as an alternative to owning, provides a high degree of resource efficiency and is better for the environment. That is the argument of the rental company Cramo, which includes a sustainability perspective in every aspect of its operations.
Today the concept of a sharing economy is associated with Internet-based solutions such as the taxi service Uber and the overnight accommodation service Airbnb. But long before the sharing economy and the circular economy were established as concepts, there was a well-functioning model based on the same idea. For the rental industry, the idea of sharing has played a fundamental role in operations since the 1960s.
”After all, renting is a business model that is essentially based on helping users share resources when that is possible. By providing users with easy access to a modern, efficient fleet of machinery, for the exact amount of time they need it, we help customers achieve their own sustainability targets. At the same time we reduce overall resource use,” says Anders Collman, Cramo’s sustainability director.
An integral part of all operations
Sustainability is basically a question of how companies view their responsibility. At Cramo, people believe this responsibility covers customers, employees, shareholders, suppliers and the local community.
“Our sustainability work is aimed at creating a high degree of trust in our products, services and business ethics. We also want to create an attractive, safe and non-discriminatory workplace while limiting the environmental impact of our own operations and the products we rent out,” Mr Collman notes.
Large rental companies have good opportunities, for instance, to optimize transport and reduce emissions. As a large-scale purchaser, Cramo also has the potential to influence manufacturers.
“An updated fleet of machinery with newer and more efficient machinery means a better workplace environment and a reduced environmental impact,” Mr Collman says.
Safety a key issue
“Safety issues are high on the agenda of Cramo and our customers,” says Martin Freland, head of Quality, Environment and Workplace in Sweden.
Cramo’s Swedish operations decided to work with occupational health and safety at a more strategic level in 2015. This was in part the result of a forum on occupational health and safety.
“By renting collective and personal fall protection equipment, safer machinery and safety solutions for construction sites, we take a comprehensive approach to safety work. Nor should we forget our successful Cramo School, which is a response to our customers’ needs for systematically reviewing and enhancing safety. Raising the level of knowledge about how machinery should be used in a way that is safe and ergonomic produces gains on many levels,” Martin Freland believes.
Environmental issues a priority
Priority issues in Cramo’s environmental work are energy, transport, waste and chemical products, Mr Freland explains.
“A concrete example of what we do in this area is our customer concept low energy site set-up, which is a complete package of products and services that enable energy use on the construction site to be reduced by half. Since Cramo’s rental services include transport of machinery and equipment to the customer and between depots, we have also developed new transport agreements with specific requirements for the workplace, traffic safety and the environment.
“To reduce waste volumes, we also monitor waste statistics systematically on a quarterly basis and take targeted measures when necessary. And we have long used environmentally-adapted oils and fuels for our machinery.
Gender equality high on the agenda
As in the construction industry, Cramo has a low percentage of female employees without there being any real reason for this, other than perhaps tradition.
“Increasing the percentage of women is thus a strategic objective. Among the concrete measures we have taken is a partnership with a recruitment consultant who, alongside the usual recruitment work, has been specifically tasked with encouraging female applicants,” says Ingrid Hollertz, HR director.
Last spring, Cramo held an Open House with a special focus on women as part of its efforts to achieve its objective of hiring more women. The first intermediate target is to have at least one female employee at each depot before the end of 2016.
“An important detail, with the same objective, is that we have developed a special collection of work clothes suited for women,” Ms Hollertz adds.