How digitalisation helped Mollo Noleggio prosper
By Belinda Smart13 September 2021
Mauro Mollo, CEO of Italian rental business Mollo Noleggio, shares insights with Belinda Smart on the company’s digitalisation journey and continued growth despite the pandemic.
Rental companies operating in mature markets know all too well that service and efficiencies are as key to success as the equipment on offer, and Italian company Mollo Noleggio is no exception.
A strong focus on both may explain the company’s solid performance despite the outbreak of Covid-19 18 months ago; in March, it reported a total turnover of €80 million for 2020, a 10.7% rise on the previous year.
Headquartered in Alba in the region of Piedmont, near the industrial capital of Turin, Mollo Noleggio is part of a larger entity, Mollo Group, which also includes crane rental company Mollogru and building materials firm Mollo Edilizia.
The Mollo Noleggio rental business is clearly a contender in its own right.
It rents machinery and equipment for the construction, industry and agriculture markets via 40 directly managed rental centres across Piedmont and the regions of Liguria, Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany and Umbria.
Described by CEO Mauro Mollo as “a solid, structured company, with 20 years of experience in the rental industry, widespread growth in the territory and a network of directly managed branches,” Mollo Noleggio’s performance seems at least in part due to its willingness to utilise new technological opportunities.
Digitalisation in the equipment rental industry
One clear opportunity currently being adopted by rental companies is digitalisation to enhance efficiencies, speed up operations, cut costs, and pass financial and man-hour savings on to customers in the form of enhanced service.
Mollo Noleggio has embraced the trend in recent years, with a widespread digitisation project.
This includes the development of supporting vertical software for ERP, and a web portal to implement customer service, sharing real time information through a satellite system for the location of fleet, the detection of basic information on machine operation, and maintenance planning.
The company has also created web apps able to integrate and track the rental chain, from customer requests to rental management, deliveries and service feedback.
Mollo says the new platform has helped efficiently manage work activities and workflows, simplified employees’ processes and given greater transparency to customers.
A further set of apps has digitalised training courses on licences and certifications required by customers.
Meanwhile the implementation of an intranet that collates all apps relevant to rental management, has sped up the flow of information inside and outside the company.
“Today we have digitised 90% of our business processes, starting from the detection of damage caused on vehicles, the management of activities related to the workshop, the signing of rental contracts and the management of commercial agents’ activities,” Mollo tells IRN.
Digital signatures for construction equipment hire
But it’s perhaps the introduction of digital signatures for rental contracts that is a particular point of pride.
Mollo Noleggio is self-described as the first rental company in Italy to have implemented digital signatures.
The project, implemented by its internal IT team, has eliminated paper, automated key processes and enabled the automated sending of rental contracts and documentation to customers, who can sign documents, remotely if necessary, via PC, table or smartphone.
“In 2020, our customers digitally signed 36,000 rental contracts which is 68% of the total contracts.
“This is an important achievement, along with the simplification of processes and more efficiency of business procedures. As well as the safer option of remote signatures during the Covid-19 pandemic, Mollo says the system has clear commercial benefits.
“With the average time taken to manage a traditional paper contract, from printing to storage, totalling five minutes, those 36,000 digitally signed contracts in 2020 gave Mollo Noleggio a total saving of 3,000 hours of work, time recovered and used for commercial activities.”
Low emission construction equipment
Along with digital transformation, growing demand for low emissions equipment is a preoccupation for rental businesses, so it makes sense that throughout 2021, Mollo Noleggio focused on expanding its fleet of low emissions equipment.
One of the largest in Italy, the rental fleet consists of over 9000 units aerial platforms, lifting equipment, construction cranes, trucks, earthmoving equipment, construction machinery and equipment, motor generators and lighting units, as well as containers and mobile bathrooms.
This year sees the addition of 1,300 new units valued at over €35 million including electrical, lithium and hybrid products.
With an average age of only 4.2 years, the fleet is also the result of a renovation exercise begun in 2015, which has seen the purchase of 100% electric vehicles, lithium hybrids, Euro 6 on-road vehicles.
Mollo sees the development of vehicles with lithium technology as a growth area, with the longevity of lithium a key benefit, that he says, “will give a strong boost to the disposal of diesel-powered machinery.”
And he also predicts that broadening demand for low emissions equipment will benefit rental businesses.
“Until yesterday the main user of electrical machines was the industrial sector.
“Today there is strong growth in demand for zero CO2 emissions and reduced noise emissions in many other sectors, such as civil restructuring or transport,” says Mollo.
Digitalised equipment servicing and logistics
Supporting its fleet and activities, Mollo Noleggio operates one of the largest service and logistics centres in Italy, specialising in the repair of equipment including aerial platforms, lifting equipment, earthmoving machinery and other construction equipment.
Covering an area of 15.000 square metres, the centre is run by an 80-strong team supported by an automated, computerised management system.
Mechanics can log machine issues on their smart phones, order the replacement parts necessary for repair and, if repair on site is not possible, submit requests for the machine to be brought back to the centre.
They can also access previous procedures performed on any vehicle via their smartphones.
Another important area of the centre is the “battery laboratory” where batteries are verified and regenerated to reduce battery wastage.
The impact of Coronavirus on Mollo Noleggio
Few companies escaped Covid-19 unscathed, and, says Mollo, Mollo Noleggio was no exception, weathering the pandemic with a distinctly personal approach.
“We faced the challenges caused by Covid-19, firstly by paying great attention to our employees and their families, and by keeping in close touch with them,” he says, adding that the company’s strong performance was also due to the “amazing availability of our employees, to guarantee operations and the continuity of our services in the Covid-19 emergency.”
The company’s fortunes are also bolstered by sister business crane rental company Mollogru, now positioned for growth following the so-called “110% law” issued by the Italian government, which increases the rate for tax deduction of expenses applied to energy measures such as building insulation, earthquake protection or the installation of photovoltaic systems.
The initiative applies to work carried out since 1 July 2020 or completed by 31 December 2021.
“As a result of the law, several construction sites are underway in Italy’s urban centres, which has caused a surge of demand for Mollogru cranes,” Mollo tells IRN.
Meanwhile during 2020 Mollo Noleggio itself completed 53,000 rental contracts for 61,000 equipment items across Italy and Europe, he says, adding that “widespread coverage of the northern central area of Italy, extensive branch network and thorough market knowledge, region by region” were critical to its performance.
All indications are that further expansion is on the company’s radar.
“Our programs are very clear: open a branch, consolidate it, open another one and so on,” Mollo tells IRN.
“There are still other important geographical areas where we are missing, but sooner or later we will get there.”
While those geographical areas aren’t disclosed, it’s evident that this sure-footed approach and the company’s digitally enabled, largely automated operations, point to continued growth.