About a month ago, I had the opportunity to attend and speak at a conference of the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA), held in Pittsburgh. My presentation provided an overview of the fluid power industry, it’s size, composition, and some general trends, as well as some things NFPA is doing to help keep fluid power a strong and vibrant industry. It was an opportunity to show why fluid power may be valuable market for these service providers and subtly mention how NFPA membership could help them get started, which fit into the conference’s overall purpose to provide practical information for NTMA’s members’ sales and marketing efforts.
A few conference attendees already knew the value of NFPA membership. Among those in attendance was Bob Mosey, President of Mosey’s Production Machinists and an active participant on the NFPA Membership Committee. The conference itself was organized and led by Dan Bagley of B&B Management Labs, a frequent partner of NFPA who has participated in NFPA activities through several NFPA member companies over the years.
As part of the program, we also toured General Electric’s recently opened Center for Additive Technology Advancement and were able to see several types of metals additive machines in operation. While additive might sometimes be viewed as a technology threat to traditional tooling and machining, in general, those in attendance saw the opportunity for their business in that the output of additive processes still needs finishing work from machining companies. Another key concept was how additive requires a different approach and mindset to engineering design, an approach and mindset to which some easily adapt while others may struggle.
And, as always, you never know what unexpected benefits may come from these interactions. In this case, it turns out NFPA and NTMA have some common ground in workforce development. NTMA’s workforce development program includes a National Robotics League STEM competition that seeks to connect middle, high school, and college students with NTMA members, much like NFPA’s various Fluid Power Challenge programs do. This could be an opportunity to begin some discussions about how NTMA and NFPA can cooperate and grow programs that benefit both industries.