Farmers Up Front, Says AGCO's Hansotia
Beginning the first day of the new year, AGCO will have a new chairman, president and chief executive officer -- Wisconsin-native Eric Hansotia, an eight-year veteran of the world's third-largest agricultural equipment manufacturing company.
"I've had farming in my blood for most of my life," he told DTN/Progressive Farmer, recalling years participating in 4-H, the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and working on a local dairy farm. The new chief executive has extensive experience in engineering, quality control, advanced technology, manufacturing, product management and global business leadership. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering. Hansotia earned his MBA from the University of Iowa.
The following Q and A are some of the issues we discussed in the near one-hour interview with Hansotia. For the full article, watch for the January 2021 issue of Progressive Farmer.
PF: AGCO turned 30 years old this past June. What do the next 30 years look like?
Hansotia: Our mission is to keep farmers at the forefront of everything we do. We've got farmer panels that meet with our senior leadership teams (who work) to understand what is going on in their business. That leads to conversations about smart farming solutions, machines that understand their environment through sensors and on-board analytics, and that optimize themselves on the go.
PF: COVID-19 has obviously presented serious challenges to the farm equipment industry. What has been AGCO's response?
Hansotia: I remember very clearly we brought our leadership together on Friday, March 13 and we said, we need to send everybody home and, where possible, work remotely. By Monday morning (that was in place). On the morning of March 14, we started seven-day-a-week leadership meetings. They were rapid-fire meetings that would ingest what was happening around the world. We quickly changed layouts in our factories and implemented many other precautionary measures to keep our employees safe. Our infection rates globally have been less than half the rate of the populations in which we operate. We set up a task force to understand the situations of every one of our suppliers and understand what we needed to do to keep components flowing into our factories and keep farmers in their fields.
PF: And the result?
Hansotia: What came out of this was an amazing surge of innovation and passion for the farmer and an attitude of doing whatever was needed to keep them up and running. We saw hundreds of ideas and actions from every area of the company dedicated to that mission -- online solutions, remote monitoring, new diagnostic tools, safe ways to deliver parts and products. Really inspiring efforts and out-of-the-box thinking.
PF: Tell us about AGCO's swarm robot concept?
Hansotia: We have an automated fleet concept for planting called Project Xaver. It's a swarm robot approach, where a single row unit can be used for planting or field scouting. Each works in tandem with other robots in the field. They all know where all the others have been, so they can collectively plant the field. Smart machines like Smart Firmer are a value to all farmers. Autonomy such as Xaver will have value for some farmers.
PF: AGCO has been introducing a full line of new Fendt products. What features in those equipment and technology lines makes you believe it will be a game-winner?
Hansotia: People are blown away by the Fendt 1000 Series tractor, the fuel efficiency, the comfort and the quietness because it runs at a low RPM. It's the largest fixed-frame tractor in the industry. It's got tremendous pulling power. There are a lot of farmers in North America with high-expectations and we have the tractors for them. We also have the Fendt IDEAL combine, the Fendt Momentum planter, the Fendt tracked tractors. We're bringing to the market place a full set of solutions.
Find out more about Project Xaver at https://www.fendt.com/…
Dan Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter @DMillerPF
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