I’ll start by asking, should the owner of a piece of heavy equipment have access to software code embedded on that machinery and access to diagnostic tools and repair information? This is a debate that essentially started in the Ag industry but can easily be applied to the world of dirt moving.
Recently there have been some major compromises made to settle the debate. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and the Equipment Dealers Association (EDA) announced their “Statement of Principles” on the right to repair. It includes a new industry commitment to provide a comprehensive set of service information tools for tractors and combines. The plan is to put them into service by the 2021 model year through authorized dealers giving farmers and ranchers the ability to perform basic service, maintenance, and repairs on their equipment.
AEM President Dennis Slater says, “Equipment manufacturers are proud to act decisively to provide our customers with commonsense solutions they have asked for to easily make simple repairs to their tractors or combines, or assess when to involve a dealer. This strikes the right balance in the way ‘Right to Repair’ legislation would not.”
EDA President Kim Rominger says, “Simply put, our industry commitment is to ensure that folks have the ‘right to repair’ while continuing to work against attempts to improperly modify equipment so as to compromise safety and emissions features.”
There are a lot of items that owners will be able to do…along with a fair amount of things they will not be allowed to do.
Here is the official Statement of Principles:
Farm Equipment Manufacturers and Dealers are Committed to Providing Maintenance, Diagnostic, and Repair Tools to End Users. The “Right to Repair” is not the Right to Modify. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), the Equipment Dealers Association (EDA), and their members are dedicated to supporting farmers and their equipment needs, reducing downtime and maximizing productivity. Therefore, AEM and EDA reiterate their joint commitment to provide end users with the information and tools needed to maintain, diagnose, and repair their equipment. To the extent not already available, the maintenance, diagnostic and repair information listed below will be made available to end users through authorized agricultural dealers at fair and reasonable terms, beginning with tractors and combines put into service on or after January 1, 2021. End users will also be able to purchase or lease diagnostic tools through authorized agricultural dealers. Certain information and tools may be available earlier. Manufacturers, through authorized agricultural dealers, are committed to provide access to:
- Manuals (Operator, Parts, Service)
- Product Guides
- Product Service Demonstrations, Training, Seminars, or Clinics
- Fleet Management Information
- On-Board Diagnostics via diagnostics port or wireless interface
- Electronic Field Diagnostic Service Tools, and training on how to use them
- Other publications with information on service, parts, operation, and safety
Using this information and these tools, which will be available for purchase, lease, or subscription through authorized dealers, end users will be able to identify and repair numerous problems they may encounter with their equipment. The industry supports equipment users’ ability to maintain, diagnose, and repair their machinery. However, the ability to diagnose and repair does not mean the right to modify. For safety, durability, environmental, and liability reasons, diagnostic and repair information and tools will not permit consumers to do the following:
- Reset an immobilizer system or security-related electronic modules,
- Reprogram any electronic processing units or engine control units,
- Change any equipment or engine settings negatively affecting emissions or safety compliance,
- Download or access the source code of any proprietary embedded software or code
This commitment to providing maintenance, diagnostic, and repair tools is a reaffirmation of the importance of seeking commonsense solutions to meet users’ needs. The industry is eager to continue working with end users to provide the most innovative and high-quality equipment to meet the needs of modern production agriculture.
The two associations have also launched a website, www.R2Rsolutions.org that has additional details about the Statement of Principles as well as “Right to Repair” legislation.