Moving Earth: Plant Hire Explained

Moving Earth
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Plant hire companies are specialists who will supply plant of various sizes and power specifications to the construction industry. Whereas at one time smaller pieces of machinery and equipment would be provided by a tool hire company, many modern day plant hire companies have now extended the range of what they offer to include items such as pump trucks, small cement mixers and air compressors. Some plant hire companies also offer landscaping and road maintenance equipment.

Below is a brief guide to some common pieces of equipment available from plant hire companies:


Plant hire companies offer excavator hire under two categories, wheeled and tracked. Tracked elevators are very useful on sites which have soft ground as they are less likely to become stuck, whereas wheeled excavators are useful when you need a faster tracking speed and you are concerned about damage to a road surface.

Telehandlers and Cranes

Telescopic handlers, or telehandlers, create the ability to lift materials or contractors to multiple heights. However, if the material you need to lift is very heavy, you may need to hire a crane in order to complete the job. Larger cranes will normally be supplied with a specially trained operator.


Forklifts provided by plant hire companies are available in two types. Standard forklifts are ideal for moving materials on flat surfaces. However, if the terrain is particularly rough, you may need to hire an all-terrain forklift.

The National Plant Hire Guide

Plant hire companies maintain a fleet of machines and equipment, which they offer for hire. If you are interested in hiring plant you can consult the National Plant Hire Guide. The guide, which was first published in 1961, provides a fully comprehensive list of plant hire companies in the UK. Now available as an online resource, the guide allows you to search by category of plant and by location. It is used by professionals from the construction industry to easily and quickly find relevant plant hire companies.

The Hire Process

When you contact a plant hire company you should inquire about the age and condition of their fleet. You should check that the plant hire company provides transportation of the machines to your site, and for the return of the plant when the work is complete.

You should also check if the plant hire company requires that you take out any additional insurance to cover the cost of repair or replacement of any damaged machines or equipment. You will be asked to pay a deposit and sign a contract before the plant is delivered to your site.

It is important that you carefully read the terms and conditions of the contract to check when payment is due. Full payment will normally have to be made before a set date, which will also be listed on the invoice provided by the plant hire company.

Once you have completed the work, the plant hire company should send a trailer to collect the plant from your site. If you return the plant early, you may be able to negotiate a refund on some of the hire cost, or a discount on future plant hire.