How Sustainability Regulations Present an Opportunity for Agricultural Manufacturing

Join aPriori and Sam Freesmeyer, formerly of AGCO, as they discuss the unique opportunity for the agricultural industry to meet and exceed sustainability regulations by using manufacturing simulation technology. Agricultural equipment – like many industries – have a difficult time aligning across functional lines. Historically, it’s been nearly impossible to have meaningful collaboration among engineering teams, product management teams, manufacturing teams, purchasing teams, and more. Because no one team owns the entire solution, it’s imperative that silos are removed to generate meaningful insight in real time.

Learn how companies in the agricultural space and beyond are using aPriori technology to collaborate and create actionable workspaces to innovate seamlessly and get products to market faster.



SF: I am Sam Freesmeyer (SF), retired VP, Engineering, Grain & Protein, AGCO, speaking with Leah Archibald (LA) of aPriori

LA: Sam, you’ve been talking over the past few days with executives across all different industries who come together at the Manufacturing Insights Conference. What have you heard is their biggest pain point at this moment?

SF: Agriculture equipment is what I know best, but what I’m learning from these discussions is that there are some problems that are common to every company, and one of those problems is the ability to develop new products that are both profitable and have minimal environmental impact on the planet.

Engineering teams, product management teams, manufacturing teams, and purchasing teams all have a part to play. No one team owns the whole product, but they struggle to be able to work across those lines because of the unique accountabilities each function has for their own targets. As product development teams, they need the ability to share targets, problems, and solutions across functions so that the company can be both profitable and hit environmental sustainability development goals. aPriori’s new aP Workspace product shows a lot of promise for collaboration. The tool still links into the other tools the teams currently use, so each function can use it in way that they’re comfortable with, and yet come together and have some discussions.

Product Management Collaboration Technology Aids in Sustainability and Profitability KPIs

LA: I think that’s what we’ve been hearing, that the challenge of silos is not just that the people are siloed in each of their departments, but their technology also tends to be siloed and that there are different versions of the truth through the different systems, including different goals and KPIs, so it’s very difficult to align your company teams together, even if you want to.

SF: Over the past three years, we all have learned a lot about how to use tools to collaborate cross-functionally to have an impact on the company’s bottom line. I think it’s going to be interesting to see how that dynamic carries on now that we’re back together face to face. How do we continue to collaborate using technology to get the job done and not walk away from what we learned since the pandemic?

What is Sustainable Agriculture?

LA: How can a solution like aPriori help people react faster or react less and be more strategic?

SF: Over the last few years, the agriculture industry has experienced a tremendous amount of impact from policymakers like REACH and RoHS. Greenhouse gas emissions, environmental health, climate change – these are real issues that need to be reacted to in regards to the manufacture and production of agriculture equipment.
Design engineers can design a tractor that plant seeds and plows and does all the other things a tractor does. But societal needs are greater than just food systems, right?

We have a social responsibility to consider future generations. This includes sustainable production practices, sustainable development of ag equipment, and the overall environmental impact of our products. First, we need to be aware of sustainable agriculture research and education. Then we need to educate our product development teams on our company’s sustainability goals. Finally, we need to arm them with the right technology to learn how to design ag equipment that can be both profitable and sustainable.
It’s important that we stay abreast of sustainable manufacturing regulations. If we aren’t aware there is a new regulation and we’ve got a bunch of non-confined equipment, we are in trouble. So as we start getting better visibility into the parts that make up our complex systems and products, we will be more prepared as new regulations are created.

LA: How do you think your product development teams will react to how the new environmental regulations will affect their design and manufacturing processes?

SF: No different than they react to cost reduction. “I designed a nice cost-effective part. What do you mean you want me to go back and redesign it for lower cost? I’ve got all this other work I need to do first.” It’s important that as a company, we establish priorities. And we can reiterate that these important methodologies will have a positive impact on the company’s profit margins. “By doing this, you’re going to free up about $15 million for investment in new fun toys that you want to create.” So you have got to put it all into the balance perspective because nobody goes out and does cost reduction for fun. It’s not fun. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be.

LA: We can do a lot of good with all of the millions of dollars you are going to save the company.

SF: With $20-30 million in savings, it’s a no brainer. Imagine all of the fun we can have manufacturing new agricultural production machines with that?

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