Materials handling fleet offers trusted brands and key features

Operations director for Ardent Hire Solutions, Gareth Clements, shares advice on what to look for in materials handling equipment, and the newest and most popular models in the fleet.

Q. What key features should buyers look for in materials handling equipment?

A. All Ardent’s machines come with air con as standard and many more bells and whistles. Many hire companies tend to order a base spec machine but we include features such as air con, hydraulic fork positioning, chassis levelling, extra protection guards and sound proofing as standard. Also, all our machines have a keypad to help prevent theft. Over the past four years, we’ve helped farmers and large farming buying groups hire materials handling equipment including JCB and Manitou telehandlers. And we’ve helped them to fix their costs whilst providing them with machine specifications and hire durations that match their requirements. This flexibility has been hugely beneficial at a time of uncertainty and change, not only in farming, but the UK economy as a whole.

Q. What brands do you work with and why?

A. The Ardent team has excellent knowledge of JCB and Manitou telehandlers and these make up the most of our fleet, but other brands can be considered. We can also add different headstocks to suit customers attachments. We have been a long-standing customer of both JCB and Manitou for many years now, with relationships at the most senior level. We have confidence in both brands – they are both industry-leading with good service and back up, parts are readily available and the controls are common across the models. We stock a high volume of parts to ensure we can fix machines should they be damaged or have a fault on the first visit.

Q. What’s your most popular product with farmers?

A. The main weapon of choice from our experience is the JCB 532/542/536-95 Agri Super or Xtra telehandler. We have a large number of these in our fleet now – many machines are ordered each year for confirmed hires. These machines are all about horsepower and spec; they are the GTI of telehandlers. They have extra speed, extra hydraulic capacity and speed, and the operator cab environment is that of a high-end car.

Q. Have there been any new additions to the fleet?

A. The latest machine in our fleet which has been a real hit is the JCB 560-80. This machine has the capacity to lift 6 tonnes and can reach 8m; it brings lots of exciting extras and has the appropriate horsepower for a machine of this size. Like the Agri Super/Xtra machines, this machine benefits from the latest generation cab and technology. It has high-capacity lift and the DNA of an agri machine. We constantly review product releases and are often consulted by OEMs to comment on new machines in the testing phase.

Q. What are the benefits of hiring over purchasing?

A. You know what your costs are, and we maintain the machine including servicing and thorough examination certificates – all the hirer is responsible for is damage. In the event of breakdown and if we can’t fix the machine the same day, we will bring a courtesy machine out to be used until the machine is fully repaired, ensuring daily duties can continue. We understand a machine is required for tasks that can’t wait, so minimising downtime is our priority.

Q. Have you had any difficulties sourcing machinery?

A. The Covid pandemic, its aftermath and now the war in Ukraine have resulted in equipment shortages and increases in equipment costs which have been challenging to everyone. However I am proud to say that even if our suppliers haven’t been able to provide equipment, we have always managed to fulfil customer requirements, thanks in part to the large fleet that we run. Sometimes we’ve had to supply a slightly different machine to the one requested, however, we’ve always been able to provide a solution. Making sure we look after our customers is extremely important to us. We look to build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with customers so we’ll always bend over backwards to try and help them.

Ardent Hire Solutions has around 3,000 telehandlers in its fleet and has one of the youngest telehandler hire fleets in the world. It also has one of the largest fleets in the UK for roto telehandlers; these are becoming more and more popular although there are not many in the agricultural world yet. The business, which has 11 depots and 300 employees, was formed in 2015 following the merger of Fork Rent and One Call Hire, which were acquired by Searchlight Capital and Duke Street.

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