«Innovation, sustainability and productivity». These are the three words with which Scott W. Vine, Chief Executive Officer of CNH Industrial, 26.9% controlled by Exor, opened the first Tech Day of the agricultural machinery and infrastructure giant which has 39,000 employees (of of which 4 thousand in Italy), ramifications on all continents, and a soul that mixes the Italian genesis, with the inauguration of the next Turin office, and American pragmatism.
In a «complicated and difficult world like the one we find ourselves dealing with», Vine underlined how new technologies are creating new production capacities under the banner of a sustainability that combines savings – and economic successes – with environmental protection.
International guests, investors, industry experts gathered for two days in an immense expanse in Maricopa county south of Phoenix, Arizona, to touch, test and see the automated machinery at work, connected on intelligent platforms and simply guided through an App that draws tracks and routes and thanks to integrated GPS systems and sensors.
On a tablet screen, different colors indicate the areas to plow and the obstacles to get around, a click with the mouse gives the go-ahead to the tractor which, with two honks of the horn, shows that it has received the order and sets off. Without anyone sitting in the driver’s seat. The tractors and combine harvesters on display at Tech Day are high-precision machines worth between $300,000 and $500,000.
More than a leap into the future, what the Italian-American company CNH – born from the merger of CNH Global and Fiat Industrial – presented is the current development of a sector in which farmers are looking for innovative solutions to combine profits with the need to reduce costs, waste and the impact of harmful emissions along the entire production chain: from soil preparation, to sowing, up to harvesting, as well as to the “intelligent” distribution methods of fertilizers and manure.
They are artificial intelligence, data collection and analysis, sensors, autonomous driving of machinery, «driverless applicator» (two machines managed by a single operator), the ingredients of a leap in quality that allows, for example, to “waste” 33% in less wheat, to reduce CO2 emissions by 35% in fruit picking thanks to an automatic control and verification system on the vines; to plant the seeds in the exact spot, guaranteeing 17% savings and a consequent increase in productivity (up 26%).
Elements to which are added developments in the fuel sector. CNH yesterday announced the first tractor powered by liquefied natural gas (New Holland T7) and illustrated the process for a sort of energy and therefore sustainable independence of farms through the transformation of waste into biodynamic fuel. A model is already active in Cornwall, but will be rolled out to other centers in England and Ireland.
Recent acquisitions – such as that of Raven which is contributing to the acceleration of the automation program – and the entry with 10% in the American start-up Stout Industrial Technology whose focus is the application of AI on agricultural tools, are indicators of the path taken by CNH, the second company globally in the sector after the American John Deere. On the construction front, however, the latest acquisition is from 2021 and concerns the Romagna company of mini-excavators Sampierana.
The economic response is undeniable: for the year 2022, net sales revenues are expected to contribute $900 million, driven solely by precision technology. In a note, the company expects an average annual growth rate of approximately 10%-15% for these components in the next two to three years and for 2023 we are firmly aiming to achieve net sales revenues from Precision Technology components equal to one billion dollars.
To support growth, investments of four billion dollars are planned for the next two years which will strengthen the digital vocation. “They will be investments – like the one made in Raven – with the aim of maintaining a strategic advantage” in the sector over the competition, highlighted Oddone Incisa, the company’s chief financial officer.
The positive trend – in terms of production, research and profitability – has not been affected by the recent supply chain crisis. Oddone explained that to avoid future repercussions, “we have launched a scouting program to see who the second and third level suppliers were” and thus shorten the supply chain. It happened, explained the manager in the case of the semiconductor crisis when CNH went directly to the market to buy them.