2014 CFPA Annual Meeting Underscores Fluid Power’s Workforce Challenges

Eric Lanke NFPA CEO


By Eric Lanke

A few weeks ago, I attended the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Canadian Fluid Power Association (CFPA) in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. It has been several years since I attended this event, as CFPA has been undergoing a bit of a reorganization. But now they are on an upswing with regard to their membership and activities, so they invited me to come on up and provide a short presentation on all things NFPA, including some areas of potential collaboration between our two organizations.

Many of the 40+ CFPA members are the Canadian offices of NFPA member companies—Bosch Rexroth, Parker Hannifin, SMC, HYDAC, Hercules Sealing Products, and Flodraulic, to name just a few. Others are companies more specific to the Canadian market –Gerdau and Wainbee being two good examples. Regardless, all of the people from all of the companies I interacted with showed a lot of energy and enthusiasm for growing the fluid power market in Canada.

As I said, my presentation was on what’s been going on in NFPA—our programs, objectives and challenges—with an eye towards possible partnership activities. As I delivered it, I realized that the presentation may be just as informative for NFPA members, so when I got back to the States, I re-recorded it and put it online. If you’d like to watch it, you can access it at https://youtu.be/g4FNrQxu6is.

2008 NFPA Fluid Power ChallengeOne clear area for additional collaboration is our outreach activities—programs designed to seek out and introduce young people to fluid power technology and careers. NFPA’s flagship program in this regard—the Fluid Power Challenge—is, in fact, based on a CFPA program that they have been running in Canada since several years before we got into the game. John Bachmann, a past president of CFPA and now retired from Wainbee, was the driving force in getting the program started in Canada, he helped NFPA launch it in the United States, and is still engaged in it and other workforce development activities in fluid power. John was there at the CFPA Annual Meeting, and it was good to connect with him again. They embarrassed John by surprising him with a kind of lifetime achievement award for all the work he has done—a recognition he richly deserves.

My presentation was well received, with several people coming up to me afterwards offering help, not just in growing the Challenge across the United States and Canada, but also for bringing more fluid power to universities and technical colleges. I captured a lot of people’s attention when describing the work NFPA has done in that regard through our Foundation and the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP). It underscored for me the scope of the challenge we’re facing in preparing an educated workforce for our industry. Unfortunately, it is not just an American problem. But shared challenges often lead to shared solutions. The Fluid Power Challenge has already crossed the border to positively impact our work here in America. There may be things we can export north to better address the challenges they face in Canada.

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