Did You Know? Fluid Power Is a Workhorse of the U.S. Economy

Eric Lanke NFPA CEO

By Eric Lanke


Fluid power is a term describing hydraulic and pneumatic technologies. Both technologies use a fluid (liquid or gas) to transmit power from one location to another. It is a workhorse of the U.S. economy. Fluid power systems transmit more power in a smaller space than other forms of power transmission, making it the cross-cutting technology of choice for dozens of industries and hundreds of applications.


Advantages of hydraulics include:

  • High power to weight ratio
  • High torque at low speed
  • Ability to hold torque constant
  • Ruggedness and reliability

Making hydraulics essential for:

  • Construction machinery
  • Agricultural machinery
  • Heavy trucks
  • Material handling machinery
  • Mining machinery
  • Oil and gas machinery
  • Metalworking machinery

Advantages of pneumatics include:

  • Inexpensive and lightweight
  • Simple control systems
  • Clean and non-reactive in magnetic environments
  • Fast and precise

Making pneumatics essential for:

  • Automotive manufacturing
  • Packaging machinery
  • Food processing machinery
  • Heavy trucks
  • Medical equipment
  • Oil and gas machinery


These and other facts about fluid power can be found in the 2014 Annual Report on the U.S. Fluid Power Industry, published by the National Fluid Power Association. The report reviews both the size and economic impact of the industry, as well as explores the energy consumption, best practices and current R&D directions of fluid power technology. Copies of the report can be downloaded from the NFPA website at: https://www.nfpa.com/fluidpower/annual-report-on-fluidpower-industry.aspx

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