By Eric Lanke
We just held our 2019 Annual Conference in Laguna Beach, California. Not only was the event a great success, it gave me the opportunity to share the key ways in which NFPA is fulfilling its mission to strengthen the fluid power industry. In this, the first of four NFPA News posts, I’d like to share some of the things I said regarding NFPA’s first strategic objective: Providing our members with an effective forum, where fluid power suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors can work together to advance their collective interests.
Our recent Annual Conference is a textbook example of our effective forum in action. This year we had more than 170 professionals from 108 companies attend. They came from across our membership and the fluid power supply chain to network with each other and to focus on the leadership challenges and growth strategies for their companies.
Click here for a recap of that great event – and mark your calendars for next year: February 11-13, 2020 at the Mandarin Oriental in Miami, Florida.
Another example of our effective forum in action occurs at our Regional Meetings. Each year, NFPA now hosts five of these events, all in cities with high concentrations of NFPA members. They provide both the networking and the education our members are looking for.
Click here to view details on the upcoming Minneapolis Regional Meeting on April 25, 2019 at Hennepin Technical College.
Fluid Power Industrial Consortium
For two years now we’ve been expanding our effective forum and engaging more stakeholders from the broader fluid power user community through the partnership with Milwaukee School of Engineering we call the Fluid Power Industrial Consortium (FPIC). FPIC provides a quarterly series of half-day seminars on the latest fluid power technology advances with immediate implementation in the marketplace.
FPIC is not about future research frontiers, but about the technologies that are driving change in our industry today. Over the last nine informative sessions, FPIC has so far examined coatings, additive manufacturing, energy efficient fluids, composites, “smart” sensors and technologies, advanced hydraulic fluids that enhance reliability, robotic automation for small batch manufacturing, advanced seal technologies, and electrification of fluid power systems.
All of these are topics identified by the technology roadmap NFPA develops and maintains, and they all represent emerging areas of value and opportunity for the fluid power industry. If you have people in your organization trying to make sense of cutting edge technologies like these and wanting to interact with technical experts from across our supply chain, I would strongly encourage their involvement in FPIC.
In the year ahead, we’re going to be combining FPIC seminars with some of our most popular Regional Meeting destinations in an attempt the get even more people in more locations involved.
Click here to view details on the upcoming FPIC meeting on June 7, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Internet of Things
The NFPA Board of Directors has recently committed our organization to leveraging our effective forum to help our members in a new area – competing in a marketplace increasingly reliant on connected technologies. Often called “the Internet of Things,” NFPA’s new objective in this space is to help our members collect, communicate, and use data from their products in a way that adds value for their customers.
Our action plan to help us achieve that objective is well underway. Our first step was to alter the definition of NFPA supplier membership to specifically include a broader range of suppliers in this space, especially those providing Internet of Things, or IoT, products and services.
We’ve also launched a new and growing IoT Committee to help guide our efforts and bring more knowledge of IoT options and strategies to our members. The Committee is already influencing our conference programming and will be developing a series of IoT-related webinars and exploring the creation of an IoT strategy roadmap that our members can use to better navigate this space.
Fluid Power Standards
2018 marked another year in which NFPA served as the Secretariat for ISO Technical Committee 131 – that’s the one focused on fluid power – and its U.S. Technical Advisory Group. More than 150 industry volunteers are working within these structures to help ensure a fair playing field for U.S.-based fluid power manufacturing while advocating for standards that make fluid power an easier technology choice for our customers.
In the past year, their work focused on developing application-based performance metrics relating to power-loss and energy efficiency in fluid power components, conducting inter-laboratory testing relating to contamination standards, and testing dimension and tolerances of new fluid power connector sizes.
These are technical subjects that require not just engineering expertise, but cooperation across companies and across continents.
Standards therefore represent a unique “effective forum” opportunity, where member companies can help NFPA achieve its goals while ensuring that their engineers have collaborative and productive interactions with their business partners, suppliers, and customers.
Another important way of bringing our forum together for the good of the industry is through NFPA’s many leadership committees. If you’re not already involved in these activities, I would strongly encourage you to do so. Of course they help NFPA fulfill its mission and objectives, but they also provide unique networking and market insight opportunities. As you help us pursue our goals, you’ll find yourself working collaboratively within our supply chain forum—shoulder-to-shoulder with your suppliers, partners, customers, and yes, competitors.
One thing worth highlighting this year is the work of our Roadmap Committee, which has just begun its biennial process to review and refresh our Technology Roadmap for the Fluid Power Industry.
Our Roadmap describes an industry-wide consensus regarding the pre-competitive research and development needs associated with improving the design, manufacture, and function of fluid power components and systems. The research and development agenda it describes is focused on advancements that will help the fluid power industry meet the future needs of its customers and expand into new markets. When completed, it is shared broadly among our members and among our academic partners to help inform their decisions about research partnerships and future product developments.
This cycle we are engaging with the fluid power users within the FPIC community to gain a better understanding of our customers’ needs and using those needs as the foundation for recommended improvements to fluid power components and systems.
Interested in Getting Involved?
As you can see, these programs demonstrate the ways NFPA fulfills its commitment to providing an effective forum for our industry, where fluid power manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers can work together to advance their collective interests. If you or a representative from your company would like to get engaged in any of these opportunities, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (414) 778-3351.