The Competitive Advantage of Hydraulics for Energy Efficiency?

Eric Lanke NFPA CEO


by Eric Lanke

Better buildings SummitEarlier this year, I attended the Better Buildings Summit in Washington, DC. This event, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy, was a national meeting where leading organizations across key sectors showcased solutions to cut energy intensity in their buildings by 20% over the next ten years. My attendance there was part of our on-going effort the ensure that fluid power plays a role in our nation’s energy efficient future.

On one of the panel discussions I heard an engineer from ArcelorMittal talking about the competitive advantages that energy efficiency brings to their company. He said that of their four major cost areas—labor, materials, energy, and repair & maintenance—energy was the one they had the greatest ability to control. Every dollar that they are able to save there goes right to their bottom line and adds to their competitiveness.

He also said that this trend of equating energy efficiency with competitiveness will continue. As global demand for energy continues to rise, the cost of energy will only go up, so companies that are focused on their energy productivity (getting more work done with less energy) will naturally rise in this new competitive market. Couple that the public’s increasing demand for companies to display good environmental stewardship and this focus on energy efficiency will pay extra dividends, including the attraction and retention of a workforce that shares the same values.

It was an eye-opening discussion, reinforcing the idea that energy efficiency is increasingly a successful corporate strategy. I went up and spoke to the ArcelorMittal engineer after the panel and asked him how much hydraulics they use in their industrial plants. A lot, he said, and although they do look at possible energy savings that come from their use of hydraulics, right now those efforts are pretty much confined to turning the systems off when they’re not using them. Like many of the engineers in our end-use industries that I’ve spoken to, hydraulics seemed like a kind of black box to him. They like what it does, but they don’t really understand how it works or how to make it better or more efficient.

Seems like a big opportunity for our industry—showing these end-users how to increase their competitiveness with more efficient use of fluid power.

Recent Posts

Latest Trends in PPI Data for Fluid Power and End-Use Markets

The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the Y/Y % change in fluid power equipment PPI starting to decline. The Y/Y % change appears to have peaked at 14.4% in July 2022, and now sits at 10.4%. The graph below shows this trend over time, and just how large the recent spike…

Read More

NFPA and Triton College Help Illinois Scouts Experience Fluid Power

On Saturday, February 4, 2023, the NFPA teamed up with Triton College, Illinois’ NFPA Fast Track Hub, and BSA’s Pathway to Adventure Council – Portage Creek District, IL, to introduce Scouts (ages 12-14) to fluid power. Triton College hosted the event, which was led by Antigone Sharris, Chair and full-time faculty of Triton’s Engineering Technology…

Read More

Register Now for the Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge Final Competitions and Recruit Talented Students

Registration is now open to NFPA members for the 2023 NFPA Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge final competitions. With the support of NFPA Pascal Society donors, this year’s NFPA Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge program features two separate competitions with a new race at each event, 23 universities, and a lot of excitement. Now is the time for NFPA Foundation…

Read More