By Eric Lanke
Looking back at another successful IFPE show, there are several observations that spring to mind.
First, IFPE and its larger partner show, CONEXPO-CON/AGG, continue to be highly successful platforms for industry to come together in one place and showcase product and technology developments to a broad array of customers. The exhibit area of IFPE grew again this year, and the combined shows once again drew an enormous attendance.
The technology developments most evident were once again another step forward in the sophistication with which electronic controls are paired with fluid power. This could be seen not only on the IFPE show floor, but also throughout the CONEXPO-CON/AGG show where fluid power is the centerpiece in providing the power needed for heavy load-moving applications. The integration of electronics and fluid power continues to improve the user experience, safety, efficiency, and productivity of machines on display throughout the show.
New for 2017 was a look ahead at developing manufacturing process changes, in particular 3D or additive manufacturing, and how they may affect fluid power systems and the machines in which they deliver power. Project AME, a joint effort of the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power and Oak Ridge National Laboratory was featured in a special CONEXPO-CON/AGG Tech Pavilion. The highlight of project AME was a mini-excavator, much of which was manufactured using 3D printing technology, with fluid conveyance channels embedded in the stick, and a heat exchanger printed entirely out of aluminum.
And finally, we always find that IFPE is a great opportunity to gather information first-hand from both attendees and exhibitors. This year our information gathering has forced some valuable rethinking of conventional wisdom. Because IFPE is co-located with CONEXPO-CON/AGG, we often think of it as a show for hydraulics in mobile applications. But our members and IFPE exhibitors reminded us that IFPE is so much more…it is THE show for fluid power technology. Quite a few exhibitors display products designed for in-plant applications and meet customers at IFPE who are there to see fluid power products for industrial automation. We look forward to seeing a growing factory automation presence at future IFPE shows.