Tag Archive for 'construction equipment manufacturers'

AEM: As COVID-19 Drags On, Equipment Manufacturers Continue to Face Significant Challenges

Executives say federal government has not done enough to support the industry

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a toll on an industry that represents 12 percent of the U.S. manufacturing sector, according to a new survey released today by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). While equipment manufacturers are adjusting to the changing economic conditions, three quarters of U.S. equipment manufacturers say that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the overall economy is still very negative. In addition, six out of 10 executives say that the federal government has not done enough to support the industry as it continues to face decreased demand and disrupted supply chains.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to negatively impact equipment manufacturers and the 2.8 million men and women of our industry,” said Dennis Slater, president of AEM. “We have seen some improvements to the operations and financial outlook for our member companies, but the industry still faces a long road back to normal. Even as our industry continues to help build, feed, and power our country, far too many of our member companies are running out of time.”

As the country navigates the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, equipment manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors have largely remained open and continued to supply the equipment necessary to keep the country moving forward and help lead the recovery and renewal of the American economy. However, many equipment manufacturers are still struggling to keep workers on the job, with eight out of ten executives indicating that they will not be able to re-hire workers laid off earlier in the year.  

The second survey of presidents, CEOs, and owners of leading equipment manufacturers comes as more states are opening back up for business, and congressional leaders negotiate a fifth stimulus package. Slater continued, “While it is very encouraging that equipment manufacturers are adjusting to the new normal and re-opening all of their facilities, the impact of this unprecedented crisis is far from over and will be felt for a very long time. Equipment manufacturers have not received the support they need from the federal government, and it is therefore imperative that they take immediate and aggressive steps to support our industry.”

The survey was in the field from May 28 to June 15, 2020. The 102 respondents weighed in on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, the industry, their companies, supply chain and manufacturing operations, their financial expectations, as well as the challenges they continue to face and specific ways the federal government can keep equipment manufacturing strong and ensure the nation’s economic resilience.

The survey’s key findings include:

  • Three quarters of respondents said that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the overall economy is still very negative, while just under half said that the impact on the industry is equally bad. 
  • One-third of respondents said they plan to lower their financial outlook by up to 30 percent over the next 30 days, while another one in eight respondents indicated they expect to reduce their outlook for the rest of the year by up to 30 percent.
  • Executives said that employee health and well-being, lack of new orders, and continued supply chain challenges are the three biggest issues they face as they re-open their facilities. 
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is taking its toll on the industry’s workforce. More than one-third of respondents said they have furloughed up to half of their employees, while roughly one in five of respondents indicated that they have laid off as many as 10 percent of their workforce. 
  • The road to recovery is lined with warning signs. For equipment manufacturers who have furloughed workers, nearly a third said they would not bring anyone back to work. For those who laid off workers, eight out of ten said they will not rehire them based on current market conditions and challenges.
  • More than eight out of 10 respondents said they would like to see a significant investment in infrastructure to help keep equipment manufacturers in business during the crisis and set the stage for the economic recovery.
  • Looking ahead, a clear majority of respondents said that the equipment manufacturing sector is not getting the support it needs from the federal government as it continues to navigate the various challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The detailed findings are available in a memo prepared by AEM’s Market Intelligence Team.

AEM continues to lead the industry’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is working closely with state and federal officials to help contain the spread of COVID-19, keep equipment manufacturing in America strong, and ensure the nation’s economic resilience. AEM has also called for bold action from Congress and federal agencies, including continued federal designation deeming equipment manufacturers and their employees, suppliers, and distributors as “essential” and additional support to ensure small and medium-sized equipment manufacturers have access to the cash they need to keep operations going. 

AEM is the North American-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers, with more than 1,000 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture and construction-related industry sectors worldwide. The equipment manufacturing industry in the United States supports 2.8 million jobs and contributes roughly $288 billion to the economy every year.

Caterpillar Announces Acquisition of Robotic Expertise

Caterpillar Inc. today announced they’ve acquired select assets and hired employees from San Francisco, Cal. based robot and autonomy technology solutions company Marble Robot, Inc. 

The acquisition is part of Caterpillar’s automation and autonomy strategy and demonstrates its commitment to the next generation of jobsite solutions. Building on its leadership in autonomous mining, the company plans to leverage the deep expertise of the new team to bring scalable solutions to meet the changing needs of construction, quarry, industrial and waste industries.

The new team is comprised of leading roboticists with a deep background in the robotics industry. Caterpillar intends to leverage the team’s fully integrated on-board autonomy technology – including perception, localization and planning – to continue delivering smart, safe, more productive and cost-effective solutions to customers.

“We’re excited to join the autonomy team at Caterpillar,” said Kevin Peterson, former Marble CEO, now Caterpillar technologist. “In many ways, this completes a full circle for me. I had the privilege of working with Caterpillar early in my career at Carnegie Mellon, where they sponsored the development of the first generation of self-driving vehicle software. Now, with the acquisition of the Marble team, together we will drive the next generation of autonomy solutions for Caterpillar customers in the construction, quarry, industrial and waste industries.” 

Caterpillar is well-positioned to grow services based on its large installed base of connected equipment, outstanding field technology and decades of product, service and application expertise to turn that experience into useful insights for our customers. The company will continue to make investments in emerging technologies, like automation and autonomy, in order to bring innovative solutions to meet the industries’ challenges.

“Our customers need the best solutions for running an effective jobsite, with improved operator productivity, lower operating costs, and greater efficiency brought by autonomous solutions,” said Karl Weiss, Caterpillar Chief Technology Officer. “That’s why we’re continuing to invest in the areas of automation, remote control and autonomy.”

Jumpstarting the COVID-19 Recovery: Equipment Manufacturers and Infrastructure Play Key Roles

By Kate Fox Wood, AEM Senior Director, Government Relations

 Equipment manufacturers, now more than ever, are doubling down on efforts to communicate to lawmakers about the important role federal infrastructure investment should play as part of our national economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Kate Fox Wood

At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, AEM sent a letter to President Trump and Congressional leadership urging them to include infrastructure investment in a government relief package. AEM supported an effort to provide additional emergency funds for state departments of transportation facing severe revenue shortfalls. AEM Chair Jeffrey Reed and CE Sector Board Chairman Rod Schrader wrote directly to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao about the importance of her leadership in ensuring Congress follows through with infrastructure investment this year. AEM played a key role in the release of a national rural roads report issued by TRIP that has been shared widely with policymakers.

For more information and resources on COVID-19, visit the COVID-19 section on the AEM website

During dozens of calls with lawmakers in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, equipment manufacturers have reiterated their commitment to keep facilities open while keeping their employees safe, and acknowledged the important role they play in supporting the nation’s critical essential infrastructure workforce like construction, utilities, and agriculture.

Equipment manufacturers also continue to make a strong case for why infrastructure investment should be a key part of any COVID-19 economic recovery plan. There is a proven track record for predictable, long-term infrastructure investment in providing jobs and boosting economic activity.

Infrastructure investment ensures critical supply chain needs can continue to be met now and in future. We cannot assume that supply chain disruptions will not develop further down the recovery timeline. Our country must be ready to weather unforeseen headwinds. U.S. roads, highways, bridges, ports, waterways, utility systems, and broadband networks must be primed and ready to adapt. We need infrastructure legislation that is bipartisan. We need infrastructure legislation that includes a plan to train a workforce that maintains and operates these important networks. We need infrastructure legislation that embraces the use of smart technology. And we need infrastructure legislation that is fully funded and long-term.

As policymakers chart a path forward during these uncertain times in our nation’s history, one thing is clear: meaningful investment in infrastructure is as important as ever. Equipment manufacturers look forward to advancing this goal, and continuing to support industries that build, feed, and fuel the world.

To learn more about AEM’s efforts to support the equipment manufacturing industry, visit the COVID-19 section on the AEM website. If you have questions or need to get a hold of AEM staff, please e-mail our Response Team at responseteam@aem.org.

Subscribe to our AEM newslettersfor more AEM news and updates.

5 Ways You Can Engage Policymakers in Response To COVID-19 Pandemic

By Wade Balkonis, AEM Grassroots Advocacy Manager

As our member companies respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve told us their priority is to ensure their workers’ safety and health while also obtaining access to the resources available to them to keep production going. After all, equipment manufacturers and our 2.8 million men and women are an essential part of our nation’s frontline response to COVID-19.  

Knowing how much our industry is doing, and will need to continue to do to help rebuild our economy, it’s also important that we all tell our elected officials what is needed to keep our industry safe while maintaining a high level of production. There’s no better time to do that than right now as Congress and President Trump are demonstrating a willingness to work on a bipartisan effort to pass legislation to help working families and American businesses. For example, the relatively quick passage of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the largest U.S. economic rescue package in history, and a new agreement to replenish funds for the Payment Protection Program (PPP), means legislators are ready and willing to act.

As we respond to the COVID-19 crisis and our industry works to help rebuild our economy, our policymakers need to hear from AEM, its members companies, and the I Make America community. With that in mind, and especially as our nation largely continues to practice social distancing, here are five ways you can engage with your elected officials:

1.  Sign a petition.

Petitions can make a big impact by showing a community’s support for policy initiatives and communicate that support to decision makers in one collective voice. Technology allows you to sign petition digitally and join a movement from anywhere. https://www.imakeamerica.com/campaign/take-a-stand-for-u-s-manufacturing/ focused on revitalizing America’s manufacturing sector on behalf of the 2.8 million men and women who support it. Behind each signature is a voice and joining together we can make the most noise. 

2. Email and phone are tried and true.

Emails and phone calls have always been a tried and true way to communicate a message directly to a lawmakers’ office. You can either check your elected leader’s website for their phone or email contact or you can visit AEM’s 10-year-old national grassroots campaign, I Make America, online. The I Make America website makes it especially easy for our members to engage with their appropriate elected leaders by automatically connecting supporters with their appropriate Senators or Representatives through ongoing issue campaigns. Supporters’ messages always help lawmakers and their staff learn more about their constituents’ priorities and take those into account for policymaking. Phone calls can also be directed to lawmakers’ Washington, D.C., or local, in-district offices.

 3. Web and video calls

Due to the crisis, and the need to social distance, many lawmakers still want to hear directly from their constituents but aren’t able to in person – for their safety and for yours. That’s why several Congressional offices have turned to online conference platforms, including Zoom, Skype, Blue Jeans, Google Hangout, or other methods. As a constituent, if you’re comfortable with using these types of platforms, then don’t be afraid to ask for meeting using any of these options.

 4. Social media

These days, social media is also a powerful communication tool for constituents. Looking up your Member of Congress’s confirmed handle on Twitter or their official Facebook profile page, and sharing with them a short story or update on how your company is responding to the crisis gives them another way to better understand how they can help. Many elected leaders are highly active on social media, tweeting or posting several times a day. You can also empower your employees to share their stories directly with their elected leaders since social media is so widely adopted and encourages simple, concise messages as well sharing photos and videos.

 5. Write in to your local newspaper. 

Your congressional, state, and local elected leaders always pay attention to what their newspapers back home are covering. That includes the opinion and editorial section of their local and state newspapers. It’s another one of the best ways they can learn about what’s on the minds of their constituents and it catches their eye because they realize other voters in their district or states may be influenced by what you have to say.

Here are a few tips on how to write a letter to the editor or op-ed to your local paper:

  • Personalize your message: Share a story of how an issue is impacting you, your work, your family or community.
  • Focus on a single point: Try to focus on specific issue, instead of a range of issues. By emphasizing issue, it makes it easier for your elected representative to focus on one thing and makes it easier for them to help.
  • Be specific with what you want: Always try to end with a specific call to action. You want your elected official to declare your work “essential” during the COVID-19 crisis, or you want your elected official to make easier for your company to apply to a small business loan. Whatever your ideal outcome, make sure you make it clear, especially in your conclusion.

As a constituent, you have a right to have your voice heard, and we encourage you to continue to engage in advocacy on behalf of your company, your employees, and our industry.

Subscribe to our AEM newslettersfor more perspectives from AEM staff.

Positive, Objective Approach to COVID-19 Pays Dividends for Elliott Equipment Company

By Mike Schmidt, AEM Industry Advisor Editor

A little bit of positivity can go a long way during the most trying of times.

The way Jim Glazer sees it, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a seemingly never-ending set of challenges and opportunities over the course of the last few months. However, in taking an objective approach to COVID-19, planning appropriately and – most importantly – viewing ever-changing circumstances through a positive lens, Glazer and his employees at AEM member company Elliott Equipment Company (Elliott) have been ready for whatever has come their way.

“Our approach to COVID-19 has brought our team closer together, and we’ve been willing and able to work closely with one another and make adjustments along the way,” said Glazer, the president and CEO of the Omaha, Nebraska-based manufacturer of telescopic truck mounted aerial work platforms, cranes and digger derricks. “The way we see it, there are challenges and opportunities, not problems. And looking at (the pandemic) that approach has served us well.”

For more information and resources on COVID-19, visit the COVID-19 section on the AEM website

DEALING WITH DISRUPTION

While Glazer readily admits COVID-19’s impact on his company has been “disruptive to say the least,” Elliott’s leaders have remained steadfastly focused on ensuring the safety of its employees and customers. Whether it has been complying with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, embracing social distancing, facilitating the ability for certain employees to work remotely, using masks on the shop floor, or establishing new cleaning and sanitizing practices, Glazer and his colleagues are doing whatever they can to help slow the spread of COVID-19, all while continuing to be as productive as possible.

“We’ve been working throughout the pandemic as an essential business, and Nebraska has been more open that most states,” said Glazer. “Like a lot of other AEM members it’s made planning different for us because there’s such a wide range of potential scenarios for us to account for.”

A willingness to work together in an effort to overcome challenges, along with remaining steadfastly focused on supporting employees and customers, has allowed Glazer and his fellow leaders at Elliott to find some silver linings amidst the uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve really tried to embrace and use new technology with our teams, like videoconferencing, and we’ve also used some of our time to conduct some extra training with our employees,” he said. “It’s also allowed us some time to refine some things related to how we go to market and who we go to market with. We’ve been able to do a lot of things in a very condensed time because of the minimal amount of distractions.”

STAYING ‘ON THE SAME PAGE’

It’s no secret effective communication has been a critically valuable tool for organizations of all types and sizes during the ongoing pandemic. According to Glazer, all-company meetings have helped Elliott’s leaders stay on the same page with employees, while newsletters and other written communications have allowed the organization to share important information with customers and distributors alike.

Remaining in touch with its workforce has also allowed company officials to gain feedback from employees about how they’re navigating the pandemic.

“It’s been both good and bad,” said Glazer. “On the good side, people have really enjoyed having some more free time and being able to share it with family. When there is such a significant shift in in your life, there are really things that come about that you may have taken for granted in the past. I think that’s what happened here. But overall, I think people are quite anxious to return things to normal.”

GETTING BACK TO WORK

And what is “normal” at this point? It’s really anybody’s guess, but Glazer said it involves being able to make sure people can be as effective as possible while on the job.

“I think people appreciate going to work,” he continued. “It really does give people a sense of normalcy, and they are able to see and socialize with the people they work with. All the technology and videoconferencing is great, but there’s really no substitute to being face to face.”

While it’s difficult for anyone to truly know what the future holds as it relates to navigating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Glazer said he and his colleagues at Elliott are staying true to their values of safety, customer satisfaction, culture and sustainability.

“The biggest challenge has been the degree of uncertainty in the environment,” said Glazer. “Things are changing way faster and more broadly than normal.  Trying to piece all of the moving parts together and understand what’s going on – without ever really stopping – has been the most challenging thing for us.”

That said, the Elliott President and CEO remains optimistic about the future of both his company and the equipment manufacturing industry overall.

“As the situation evolves, everyone is learning and adapting as we continue to go down the road,” said Glazer. “And, I think as things really start to open up, people will just get more and more confident about heading out and getting everything going again.” 

To learn more about AEM’s efforts to support the equipment manufacturing industry, visit the COVID-19 section on the AEM website. If you have questions or need to get a hold of AEM staff, please e-mail our Response Team at responseteam@aem.org.

Subscribe to our AEM newslettersfor more AEM news and updates.