By Eric Lanke
One of my recent trips took me to Portland, Oregon, where I was able to visit several NFPA members in the Pacific northwest.
One was Delta Computer Systems, a manufacturer of electrohydraulic motion controllers. And what a treat that visit was! We spent a good deal of our time sitting around a table talking about the fluid power industry, some of its challenges, and the things NFPA and its members can do to address them.
One big subject we talked about was innovation—especially with regard to increasing the efficiency and reliability of our systems. It was a good segue into NFPA’s two technology roadmapping projects, and it validated for me the idea that some of the challenges those roadmaps have identified are not purely research challenges, but challenges associated with educating the customer market on current and state-of-the-art uses of fluid power.
For example, the electrohydraulic motion controllers Delta makes combine hydraulics, electronics, and sensors to provide system data and control at the microsecond and micrometer level. Making our customers aware that such precision is possible with fluid power may go a long way in helping to respond to some of the challenges we face in the adoption of our technology.
NFPA has clearly been doing more to bring these messages to our customer base. The Energy Efficient Hydraulics and Pneumatics Conference (EEHPC), now being planned for co-location with IFPE 2017 is just one example. As are the “future of fluid power technology” exhibits that we’ve launched with PACK-EXPO and, soon, at IMTS.
Too many of our customers have an outdated understanding of what fluid power can do. In the words of one of the Delta engineers I spoke to, they’re comparing cutting-edge electrics to stone age fluid power. We need to do more to help them compare cutting-edge to cutting-edge. On that scale, fluid power measures up quite well.
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