The State of the Gear Industry 2021

It’s that time of year again when Gear Technology magazine publishes its State of the Gear Industry survey. The 2021 Survey should make for particularly interesting reading given the past year. The survey polls manufacturers about the trends, issues, opinions and general health of the industry.

If you would like to view the entire survey we have included the link here, otherwise you scan through our condensed version….

More than 200 respondents joined the survey – mainly from North America but many from other regions.


In last year’s survey a historically low level of optimism was reported (with only 75% of manufacturers indicating some level of optimism). Oddly enough, given the past year, this has actually improved to 76.5%.

When it came to the most significant challenges 39% unsurprisingly cited the COVID pandemic. However, the need for increased productivity, new sales development and general economic factors also came out strongly.

As before, finding and retaining skilled labour was seen as a major challenge with 21% citing it. However, headcount reductions in response to the pandemic may mean increased difficulties in meeting targets as demand outlook for 2021 looks higher than ever.

In fact, 44% of the gear industry saw decreasing levels of employment in 2020. However, 42% expect employment levels to increase in 2021.

This is similarly reflected in production levels with 59% reporting a drop in 2020 but 57% expecting it to rise in 2021.

It’s a similar story with sales with 62% lower in 2020 and 66% expecting a rise in 2021. 54% of respondents also reported a decrease in capital expenditure but 44% are expecting it to increase.


The move towards EV is seen as an issue as they use less gears but the transition globally will be slow so current volumes of conventional transmissions will continue for some years.

Other issues with problems maintaining the supply chain were reported.

Higher prices of materials such as steel and increases in the price of electricity.

Finding the right people (and keeping them) is a year on year issue.


EV is also seen to present an opportunity as gear manufacturers can make the transition to becoming power transmission solution providers.

The development and refinement of magnetic and plastic gears and robotics are also seen to present opportunities.

In all, it seems that the gear industry has proved remarkably resilient and looks forward to 2021 with cautious optimism. See the full content here