For contractors who don't get enough utilization to justify the purchase of a chipper, rental provides many benefits. It allows you to select the optimum chipper for each specific application. But you need to work with your rental supplier and ask the right questions.
"A contractor should ask the rental center what style and capacity of chippers they have available to rent," says Jason Morey, marketing manager, Bandit Chippers. "Based on the material the contractor needs to chip, he or she can make a decision on the rental. Capacity is a huge factor... If a machine is too small for the material, the renter will be working much harder than needed."
"Any potential customer should look at a combination of features before renting," adds Todd Roorda, environmental solutions specialist, Vermeer Mfg. Consider the size of the chipper to the size of material that needs to be chipped, as well as the size of vehicle that will be utilized to move it to the jobsite. Also consider safety features for the operators.
Jason Showers, commercial sales manager, Morbark, believes many questions need to be answered before you can arrive at the right unit. "What is the size of the material to be chipped? How will you feed it to the machine ? with auxiliary equipment or by hand? What is the volume to be chipped? Whether you are doing a small lot or you are clearing several acres, the size and horsepower of the machine should correspond. How much time do you have to complete the job?" he asks. "In reality, the rental outlet should be asking the contractor these questions to ensure he is renting the right machine."
Be prepared to discuss the diameter of the material to be chipped, as well as any constraints, such as access to the area or noise restrictions, adds Jason Frazao, United Rentals branch manager, Hudson River Valley, NY, District. "Also, be sure to ask about rental terms, and be realistic about the time it will take to complete the job," he says. "Don't rush to conform to a three-day window if a weekly rental would be more efficient, cost effective and safer."
Size it right
"As a general rule of thumb, the size of the chipper should be determined by the largest diameter of the material you expect to process," says Frazao. "However, if the largest diameter is far outside the norm ? for example, the largest log is twice the size of everything else ? use the average diameter as your guide and dispose of the oversized material some other way. This will be more economical, as well as more productive, since large chippers can clog when fed small limbs and branches."
Morey advises taking the average diameter of the material being chipped, then going with the next larger model. "For example, if your material is around 9 in. in diameter, we would recommend going with a 12-in. chipper," he states. "You could do it with a 9-in. chipper, but the larger model would drastically reduce the amount of work. The added cost of renting the larger unit would pay for itself in no time."
"It is preferable to have a chipper that is one to two sizes larger than the maximum you think you will need," Showers agrees. "The rental cost may be somewhat higher, but you will be able to complete the job quicker and more efficiently."
A larger machine with more power will chip harder wood easier. Otherwise, there isn't much difference when chipping different wood types. However, the shape of the wood can definitely impact the required chipper size.
"If the majority of the trees in the customer's area are a species that have multiple forks within the trunks or a lot of 90° limbs, a larger diameter chipper could be required to handle [them]," says Roorda. "The alternative would be to spend more time with a chain saw sizing the material to go through the chipper."
Disc vs. drum
Chippers come in two types: disc and drum. Each has advantages and disadvantages depending upon the material to be chipped. "Large logs can be processed more efficiently with a disc-style chipper, in that it cuts like a pair of scissors. A drum-style chipper will be more efficient with brushy material, in that it cuts more like a shear," says Showers.