The complete guide to dry hire vs wet hire equipment


The complete guide to dry hire vs wet hire equipment

Paul Dean | Founder/Director

Skid Steer Loader driver

You need equipment for your next project, so you start looking into hiring options. Before too long you’ve been bombarded with options for both dry hire and wet hire. You’re wading through the differences between both types of machinery hire, along with their respective advantages and disadvantages and even after all your due diligence you’re still not sure which option is best for you. We feel your pain. And that’s exactly why we’ve put together this guide that outlines everything you need to know about dry and wet machinery hire. 

What’s the difference between dry and wet equipment hire anyway?

First things first, let’s get down to definitions. 

Dry hire is defined as: the hiring of equipment on its own without an operator. In the case of machinery hire, whoever hires the equipment is also responsible for its operation or finding someone qualified to operate it.

Wet hire is defined as: hiring equipment in conjunction with a qualified operator to operate the machinery. In the case of wet hire, the operator is responsible for the machinery. 

Advantages of dry hire equipment 

Cost savings: Upfront costs will always be lower with dry hire, because you are not factoring in the costs of labour. In addition, you may be able to find an operator at a lower rate than what comes with the wet hire package deal.

Flexibility: depending on your project, you may not require equipment or an operator for the entirety of the works. With dry hire, if your project comes to a standstill, you will not have to continue to pay for the equipment and operator. As a result, you’ll be able to get the equipment off site as soon as you are finished with it freeing up space and resources.

Ease of management: If you go with dry hire and use an existing member of staff, they will generally be easier to work with and manage due to an existing understanding of company expectations and job requirements, versus using a contractor. 

Lower headcount: By going with dry hire and using your own staff to operate the equipment you will keep the number of people on-site down, in turn reducing additional management and administration duties. 

Safety win: By using your own staff you know that they are already trained on particular site safety procedures and protocols and are invested in seeing them upheld.

Advantages of wet hire equipment 

Operation specialisation: a lot of machines require very specific knowledge, experience and know-how to operate them. With wet hire, you can be assured that the person operating the machine is highly skilled in its operation.

Quality work: Due to using highly trained personnel, there is a higher chance of having a better quality end result. 

Speed of service: Being highly proficient and competent in the machine they are operating, wet hire operators generally complete work much faster than someone without the same level of expertise. 

Certified operators: wet operators are all required to be fully trained, licensed, insured and compliant. This will help to maintain the level of safety on site, while also reducing the likelihood of equipment being damaged on site. Additionally, wet hire operators are responsible for the equipment they operate on site, taking the burden of damage and mechanical failures off your shoulders. Albeit Principal Contractors have an obligation to ensure machinery on their site is compliant. 

Machinery maintenance: Wet hire deal agreements ensure that machines are always being operated by specialists, reducing the risks of wear and tear from those who aren’t as highly trained in operating specific equipment. This means the machines being used on your site will generally always be in good condition. 

No unforeseen extra costs: Though wet hire agreements come with higher upfront costs there is less chance of hidden costs coming at a later stage that may be attributed to time running over or accidents/damages. 


Disadvantages of dry hire equipment 

  • Increased risks of machinery and/or site damage and accidents due to unskilled operators
  • Time running over caused by work being carried out incorrectly in first instance
  • Budget and timeline blowouts caused accidents and/or errors


Disadvantages of wet hire equipment 

  • Higher upfront costs
  • Unpredictability of working with contractors
  • Contractors can require more supervision and management than permanent employees


Making the call: dry dire vs wet hire

Each project is unique with its own set of challenges, time and cost constraints. Given that, the three biggest factors that will impact your decision to go with dry hire versus wet hire will most likely be your existing level of equipment competence, your budget and the level of complexity of your project. 

No matter which equipment hire option you choose, safety should always be your highest priority. If you are hiring equipment without a lot of experience ensuring you have done appropriate risk assessment is critical. 

For more information on machinery hire compliance wet or dry, please contact our team of experts to learn more. 

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