eRent: Construction Efficiency Using Principles of the Sharing Economy

eRent has developed a digital equipment management portal for construction equipment. At the very heart of the concept lies the resource efficiency that can be achieved using principles of the sharing economy.

Olli Aaltonen, CEO of eRent Solutions, is confident about the platform his company has created: “Besides offering a digital solution to a rather inefficient workflow in the construction business, we are also introducing a way to track and manage your construction equipment, whether it is owned, rented, or leased. The cost savings are obvious we believe our tracking feature brings our customers even more value.”

eRent’s solution combines IoT-tracking with a browser-based portal. Using the portal, customers can either directly book equipment or send invitations to bid to multiple equipment owners in one go. Equipment lifecycle management is improved by the system’s ability to track equipment units in real time and to handle service requests.

Baby steps with KIRA-digi

Because the platform is a Finnish KIRA-digi experimentation project, Aaltonen and his team had the opportunity to interview a number of construction managers about their experiences with equipment management. One outcome from these interviews is a platform that really helps construction managers. eRent is able to deliver considerable savings in terms of time, administrative costs, and equipment downtime.

“KIRA-digi has been invaluable in helping us network with the right people in the early stages of our business. We have made a lot of useful contacts at both the national and international level,” Aaltonen adds.

Currently eRent is focusing on home markets. Aaltonen notes: “Our biggest current customer group is Finnish construction operators, and we are aiming to target the rest of Scandinavia and the Baltic countries in the coming year.”

Tracking feature as a unique selling point

eRent’s solution differentiates itself from its competitors by including a tracking feature in the platform. This means a customer can follow each equipment unit in real time on a map and plan maintenance of the unit accordingly. Also, service requests can be placed through the platform. “This feature is indeed a great advantage and something our competition, even on an international scale, does not have. On top of finding the most suitable piece of equipment at the right time and for the right price, we also want to help construction operators manage equipment,” confirms Mr. Aaltonen.

Because the system is based on open source code, eRent’s platform can integrate well with other platforms.

Constructing digital revolution

No change comes easy. Personal relationships are highly valued in the construction business – it is typical for a construction manager to pick up the phone and call the same person he or she has been dealing with for the past decade or more to rent out the same crane. eRent’s real value can be seen when equipment goes missing or the usual provider’s equipment is not available.

“I used to work in the travel industry and still remember how quickly digitalization hit the industry around the turn of the millennium. I am confident the same will happen to the construction industry. We have only seen a glimpse of what is yet to come. I believe the construction industry will reach the same level of digitalization as today’s travel industry by 2025.”

After a successful pilot phase during the summer of 2018, eRent has recently launched its product into the market. “At the moment we are focusing on maximizing our network of both customers and equipment rental operators in Finland. Starting with Scandinavia and the Baltics, beginning next year we will put real effort toward gaining space in international markets,” Aaltonen concludes.

To learn more about the eRent solution, please visit www.erent.fi.

Text: Jenni Ripatti, AE Partners