Innovation is gear industry’s (near) future


It’s been a tough few years for gear manufacturers.

From 2014 to 2016, U.S. gear demand dropped 30 percent across the 11 different markets. A recent NAM poll indicated a 90 percent “optimism in business” rating from its members. That appears to be a positive story, but is it the real story? The revenue story? It will take years to recover a market that has experienced the following numbers:

  • Gears in oil and gas operations dropped by 72 percent.
  • Gears in regular mining operations dropped by 63 percent.
  • Gears in farm equipment dropped 45 percent.
  • Gears in construction equipment dropped 40 percent.
  • Gears in turbines dropped by 37 percent.
  • Gears in shipbuilding dropped by 32 percent.
  • Gears in machine tooling dropped 28 percent.
  • Gears in material handling dropped 24 percent.
  • Gears in industrial machinery dropped 18 percent.
  • Gears in railroad equipment remained unchanged.
  • Only aerospace grew between 2014-2016 — by 11 percent.

Total U.S. demand dropped from $5 billion in sales to $3.8 billion over that time period.

$1.2 billion was lost in revenue.

In 2017, AGMA is forecasting a recovery of sorts. We expect overall demand to reach $4 billion — a 6 percent growth rate. By 2021, we expect the market to reach $4.9 billion. Put another way, it’s not until 2021 that AGMA expects total U.S. demand to be within $200,000 of 2014 figures.

By then, it will have been seven years of holding on … managing cash, costs, and doing everything they can to survive as companies while fighting in the trenches to secure new business.

That is a perseverance story.

What is the way out of this trend? What needs to happen in order to speed up a transition from a perseverance story to a growth story?

One word: Innovation.

AGMA members need to be looking at innovative ways to partner with customers, suppliers, and each other.

AGMA members need to be connected directly to the research institutions, schools, and organizations advancing innovative new ways to deliver power transmission via mechanical means.

AGMA members need to have design engineers who are trained and capable of leading an innovation effort.

AGMA members need to spend time focused on new alloys for their products, additive as a manufacturing tool, and industry 4.0 as a value driver.

And it needs its association to be right smack dab in the middle of this and support its members as we move from perseverance to growth. Our new vision states AGMA and its members drive power transmission innovation. The emphasis is on the word and. Together, AGMA and its members are working to connect our members to the innovation that will drive our future.

What is AGMA doing to make this happen?

Students get hands-on experience at the Gear Failure Analysis Class.
(Courtesy: AGMA)

AGMA is currently redirecting some efforts that are very visible for people to see and join. Through our communications strategy of social media and blogging, we try to instantly connect members to the newest industry content available. We want to encourage a dialogue to start so we can learn from each other and figure out how our businesses can stay current with the trends.

Our education department is implementing new classes for 2018 that will help companies and their employees build the foundation for innovation. AGMA wants to offer the courses its members need in order to thrive in a changing industry.

The Emerging Technology Committee is hard at work exploring the disruptive technologies that are going to change the way businesses work five to 10 years down the road. AGMA wants to be the telescope that can help focus efforts of its members to be smart about the future. Studying industry innovation is the best way to see how our members can implement new solutions into their own strategies.

AGMA is also looking to expand the global initiative to create relationships and open doors to international innovation. By traveling outside of the U.S., AGMA can work with new suppliers and education programs that will enable a broader market for our members.

Lastly, we are putting all these efforts together and listening to the needs of our members. The Industry Voice Committee and Trade Show Committees are enhancing the reach of the association, looking for ways to collaborate with other partners and to keep innovation at the forefront of our tradeshow to include a broader spectrum of drive transmission solutions. The Drive Technology Show is in 2019 with an unbeatable schedule filled with more opportunity to connect members directly with the suppliers and manufacturers they need while placing them in the middle of the newest industry technology.

AGMA and its members will drive innovation together — join now and be a part of the exciting things happening in 2018!

Matthew CrosonAGMA President

Gearbox gears

Gear Expo 2017

AGMA would like to say thank you to everyone for their support and attendance at Gear Expo this year. Make sure to stop by our booth (823) to see the AGMA crew and take some pictures with the Strati from Local Motors. Don’t forget that you can register for any classes at Gear Expo on site.

Find Rebecca Brinkley, AGMA’s communication manager, at Gear Expo and take a paddle to photograph with your experience.

Gear Expo on Social Media!

Look for signs around Gear Expo with our social media handles. We encourage all of those attending or exhibiting to take photos with these signs and tag AGMA (Twitter: @AGMA, Facebook:
@AGMAGear) in their online posts to make sure everyone knows how great the show is and that you were a part of it.

2018 Fall Technical Meeting (FTM)

The call for papers for the 2018 FTM will begin at the close of the current FTM Tuesday, October 24. Information will be provided at that time. If you have any questions, please contact Courtney Payne at

2018 AGMA Education Events

AGMA is excited to bring you some new education events this year that offer enhanced learning opportunities taught by some of the best experts in the gear industry.

Registration opens for these events October 24, 2017.

Gearbox System Design
January 23-25 • Las Vegas, Nevada

Gear Materials
February 5-7 • Clearwater Beach, Florida

Gearbox CSI
March 20-22 • Concordville, Pennsylvania

Basic Training for Gear Manufacturing
April 2-5 • Chicago, Illinois

Detailed Gear Design
May 8-10 • Detroit, Michigan

Worm Gear Design
May 31-June 1 • Alexandria, Virginia

Epicyclic Gear Design
June 5-7 • Chicago, Illinois

Gear Failure Analysis
June 19-21 • St. Louis, Missouri

Gear Manufacturing & Inspection
July 10-12 • Ontario, Canada

Basic Training for Gear Manufacturing
September 10-13 • Chicago, Illinois

Fundamentals of Gear Design and Analysis
October 24-26 • Houston, Texas

There are some great events planned for 2018.
Visit for the full schedule.