COVID-19 is accelerating e-commerce, and the equipment industry is no exception

The way we do business is changing– and with COVID-19 and social distancing measures disrupting so much, 2020 is proving to be a pivotal time for industries to transform their approach to the digital world.

Here, Matt Ackley of Ritchie Bros. shares his views on the current climate of e-commerce, the huge advances made in recent years, and what we can expect in the future.

Matt Ackley, the Chief Marketing Officer, GM Platform Business, SVP Product Management at Ritchie Bros., has a long track record of success in the world of tech. Before he joined the auction company, Matt worked at several start-ups, including eBay and Google, that are synonymous with e-commerce and digital business. While the heavy equipment industry is undoubtedly different, Matt’s focus on digital transformation means he is now able to apply his learning from other areas of the digital world in a new setting.

“One thing is for certain,” Matt says with enthusiasm, “no industry is immune from digital transformation. Even industries that prized themselves on intrinsic human connection and knowledge – such as the medical industry – have seen huge digital advancements in recent years.”

Traditionally, the heavy equipment industry is viewed as a more conservative business, but this is an unfair judgment. The construction and mining sectors are arguably the perfect laboratories for the testing of digital technology such as connectivity and automation – as they tend to be controlled environments with limited public interaction.

In recent years, there has been a rapid acceleration in tech R&D from several heavy equipment manufacturers, including Volvo Construction Equipment. The industry may not be at the forefront of technological and digital advancements. Still, it is embracing the benefits on offer and integrating them into complex machinery to deliver surprising results.

Pivotal Year

There is no doubt 2020 is set to be a pivotal year in terms of digital transformation. Although the circumstances are unfortunate, COVID-19 has sped up the development and adoption of new digital ways of working, communicating, and of course, buying and selling. In the future, even more of our interactions and connections are set to be driven by technology.

“Technology allows companies, like Ritchie Bros., to work more efficiently,” says Matt. “For example, we have tested software that allows customers to submit pictures of equipment, that are then analyzed through machine learning that can provide detailed insight into the equipment’s worth, where it was made, its make and model, etc. Moving forward, advances like these could radically alter the way used machinery is traded, for example, by enabling inspections to be done remotely.”

Let’s hear more in this short video from Matt Ackley

We are carrying a more in-depth report on this subject in the forthcoming print issue of Plant & Civil Engineer.