"We are putting the driver at the center of our actions!"

Interview with Martin Führer, Managing Director of Holmer Maschinenbau GmbH

Holmer Maschinenbau Terra Dos 5
Sustainability has now become a top priority in agriculture

With over half a century of experience, Holmer Maschinenbau GmbH is one of the world's leading manufacturers in the area of self-propelled sugar beet harvesters and is expanding in the carrier vehicle sector. Currently, the company is at the beginning of a profound transformation process, at the end of which it will have transformed from a machinery producer to a solution provider.

Wirtschaftsforum: Mr. Führer, for 50 years, Holmer Maschinenbau GmbH has been a strong partner for agriculture - in which segment do you specifically engage?

Martin Führer: Our core market is agricultural machinery for harvesting and loading beets in all variations as well as field logistics vehicles, with which, for example, slurry is spread on the fields or farm workers are supported during the harvest by transporting the crops from the harvesting machine to the edge of the field. Here, we offer a universal machine with various attachments for different applications.

Wirtschaftsforum: What significance does digitalisation hold in your agricultural machinery today?

Martin Führer, Managing Director of Holmer Maschinenbau GmbH
Martin Führer, Managing Director of Holmer Maschinenbau GmbH

Martin Führer: Our products are now equipped in such a way that the driver no longer needs to leave his cabin but can maintain an overview and control the device efficiently through various camera systems, screens, and control panels. In addition, our machines are connected to our service center, allowing us to support the drivers remotely with any settings at any time and give them necessary operating recommendations if required. Of course, all telematic data are also centrally captured and can subsequently be transferred effortlessly to any common farm management system. There, all relevant analyses can be carried out.

Wirtschaftsforum: What innovations are currently the center of attention at Holmer Maschinenbau?

Martin Führer: The market-standard farm management systems are also being continuously developed, so of course we always have to keep pace with our solutions. Furthermore, our machines are very complex overall due to their comprehensive functionality – at the same time, our customers have fewer and fewer skilled workers with in-depth training available, so they increasingly have to employ non-specialists in their operations. In this context, not only is the easiest possible operability of our machines essential – any necessary maintenance and servicing work must also be implemented simply and stringently. Against this background, we have developed an app with an image-based spare part recognition together with our partner synthavo. Our customers can photograph the area of the machine where a component needs to be replaced – an AI-supported photo recognition then identifies the desired component. With one more click, the product can then be placed in the shopping cart and ordered online.

Holmer Maschinenbau Terra Variant 650
The topic of sustainability is now at the top of the agenda in agriculture
Holmer Maschinenbau Terra Felis 3 Evo
The plant operators can rely on comprehensive support in controlling the machines

Wirtschaftsforum: What role does the driver play in the further development of your products?

Martin Führer: Fundamentally, we aim to put the driver at the center of all our agricultural machinery – this starts with designing control elements in the cabin to be as simple as possible and includes a certain comfort factor, which we address with an ergonomically optimized armrest, underfloor heating, and inductive charging for mobile phones – after all, drivers spend many hours in the machine during harvesting time. At the same time, we want to specifically relieve them in their work, for example, by using comprehensive sensor technology that allows the machine to steer itself based on the alignment of the beet rows, so that the driver can concentrate on adjusting the harvester.

Wirtschaftsforum: Sustainability has been at the top of the agenda in agriculture for several years now. What ambitions does Holmer Maschinenbau pursue in this regard?

Martin Führer: We clearly aspire to not only lead in innovation but also in sustainability in our sector, and to maintain this market positioning long term. From an economic perspective, the Total Cost of Ownership plays a crucial role for our customers, reflecting energy costs, fuel consumption, and service needs, among other factors. Generally, we offer the most economical diesel engines of all providers and focus on designing our machines for minimal maintenance from the development stage. Moreover, the cleaning quality of our machines is important – because if soil is introduced into the sugar beet processing at the sugar factory, it must be disposed of separately and accordingly, at great expense. Here too, we rely on reliable quality to eliminate this problem as much as possible.

Wirtschaftsforum: How will Holmer Maschinenbau change as a company in the coming years?

Martin Führer: Our vision is clear: We are one of the leading suppliers in our segment on the global market, and we aim to remain so through our innovation and sustainable products. Moreover, we are consciously undergoing a development from an agricultural machinery manufacturer to a full-service solution provider – in this context, we aim to offer our customers not just the corresponding machines, but a peace-of-mind package from a single source, from financing to support for their agricultural machinery equipment: Behind this goal is a profound transformation process, at the end of which we will not be selling a machine to our customers, but a hectare of harvested beets. This relieves our partners of a high degree of complexity in their operations, which we instead integrate into our company. The associated risk can be well represented by us thanks to our grown expertise and many years of experience, giving us the opportunity to fully benefit from the associated market opportunities.