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2020 Predictions: Electric Machines, Autonomous Operation and Remote Machine Control

Clair David Urbain
Editor, Publisher
Pro Contractor Rentals Magazine

Access 101

2020 Predictions: Electric Machines, Autonomous Operation and Remote Machine Control

Expert Q&A - Dec 19

What industry trends do you predict will gain traction in the 2020 calendar year?

I think we’ll see more moves toward electrically powered equipment of all sizes. Recent introductions of lithium-ion-powered models are capturing interest due to no emissions, greater reliability and quieter operation. Those will show interest from rental centers and end-users alike. Milwaukee recently introduced lithium-ion-powered compact equipment, such as a jackhammer, concrete saw, core drill and other tools, that will have rental centers and end-users rethinking gasoline-powered models.

Another trend is increasingly autonomous equipment. For example, Bobcat came out with a remote-controlled skid steer and compact track loader that can also be geofenced remotely, so it doesn’t cross certain boundaries. The technology also allows new models to be outfitted with all the bells and whistles available and then be programmed to offer only the options the end-user needs. For example, variable-flow hydraulics and ride control can be turned on or off in the field as the customer requests. For rental centers, that means fewer models that can do more jobs and allow the rental center to turn on functions and charge different rates for those capabilities.

What emerging technologies do you believe will have the biggest impact on the industry in 2020?

Telematics and remote machine control will be taken to new levels.

How is the political climate affecting rental and construction businesses?

After an incredibly strong run in equipment sales, it seems the pent-up demand for new equipment is getting fulfilled. As tariffs are threatened and put in place, it creates tremendous uncertainty in all aspects of the economy. End-users may be more likely to rent equipment because they may be uncertain—they can justify equipment purchases to do jobs they have landed but may be less sure about jobs in the pipeline that they are bidding. New equipment with greater capabilities/lower cost of ownership will be the winners in the eyes of rental centers and end-users.


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