Machinery Industry Sees Growth Building on 2020 Successes

Steve Berglund, AEM chair and executive chairman for Trimble Inc., said the pandemic may have reversed decades-old thinking about just-in-time inventory management.

“[Just-in-time] made the industry more efficient, but the experience of the last 10 months has put into question some of the guiding principles of manufacturing,” Berglund said. “In the event of something like the pandemic, it makes the ability to deliver a more difficult proposition.”

Berglund speculated that manufactures may adopt inventory management practices that enable manufacturers to better weather historic events such as COVID. He expects, too, that the industry will reexamine its dependence on single-source suppliers.


The panel discussed its infrastructure and technology priorities for 2021.

Expanding broadband services, especially mobile broadband, is a key infrastructure need, they said.

“For our customers to be able to take advantage of, to be competitive worldwide with the latest and greatest technology, rural broadband is going to be a necessity for our customers to be competitive,” said Crain.

Berglund added: “The machine as defined in terms of horsepower and inherent capacity is no longer necessarily the driving issues. [It is] how well that machine fits into an information architecture … so that the entire farm [is] being managed together. I think there is a whole level of challenge there.”

Without a robust wireless connection to farms, managers and employees, “You deprive work crews in remote areas access to [big data] applications,” Berglund said. “Mobile enables the new generation of applications. Without connectivity, you simply cannot use all of the available technologies.”


The panel also discussed trade. AEM is highly interested in the incoming Biden administration’s trade plans. Its members do not support routine use of punitive tariffs as a method for opening trade opportunities.

“It goes without saying that pro-growth trade policies keep U.S. equipment manufacturing strong and keep our workers employed,” Crain said.

Off-road manufacturers employ 2.8 million jobs in the U.S. Thirty percent of all equipment made in the U.S. is destined for export.

“Current conditions and sentiments are positive for industry growth in 2021, but the creation of equitable, long-term trade negotiations beneficial to U.S. farmers and manufacturers continue to be of critical importance to maintaining positive momentum.”

Dan Miller can be reached at

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