Did You Know? Future Fluid Power Research Will Focus on Off-Highway Vehicles, Human Scale Systems and Advanced Manufacturing

Eric Lanke NFPA CEO


by Eric Lanke

Several new research thrust areas are being developed by NFPA and the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP). They include:

Off-Highway Vehicles

  • Energy supply, usage, and emissions are top national challenges.
  • The energy consumed by U.S. agriculture, construction, and mining vehicles totaled 4.8 quads in 2012.
  • Advances in the powertrain systems of these vehicles is critical to increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions.
  • Fluid power is already present on these machines and can be used in unique ways for power transmission.
  • Ways to increase fluid power’s energy density should be researched and tested.
  • No dedicated federal program or office currently exists to fund pre-competitive research and training in this area.

Human Scale Systems

  • Many opportunities exist to improve military, medical assist/rehabilitation, and heavy industry tool applications with human scale fluid power systems.
  • Each year, more than 372,000 back injuries result in days off of work; estimated lost wages are $22.4 billion.
  • Fluid power enabled or enhanced devices can increase operating profiles, mobility and quality of life, and productivity.
  • Ways to decrease the size of fluid power components, or to combine them into compact and integrated systems, should be researched and tested. A compact and lightweight fluid power source is key.
  • Several mission-centric federal agencies would benefit from these advances.

Advanced Manufacturing

  • Manufacturing accounts for over $2 trillion of the U.S. economy and supports an estimated 17.6 million U.S. jobs.
  • Manufacturing workers earn 24 percent more than the average U.S. worker.
  • Manufacturing process breakthroughs can be just as dramatic and impactful as manufactured product breakthroughs.
  • Research that investigates cost effective methods of machining hardened, heavily-loaded precision surfaces in low to mid volumes should be a primary focus.
  • Additive manufacturing applied to fluid power is an emerging field of study.
  • A national fluid power manufacturing roadmap is being developed for 2016.

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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