By Eric Lanke
A few weeks ago, at the 2014 Annual Conference of the FPDA Motion and Control Network, NFPA and FPDA held another in their series of leadership meetings. This is the third such meeting the two groups have held in the past two years, with plans to go on meeting regularly at the NFPA and FPDA Annual Conferences. NFPA was represented by our Chairman Bill Gorski of Bimba Manufacturing, our Secretary Tricia Fulton of Sun Hydraulics, and myself. FPDA was represented by their President, Mike Hamzey of R.M. Wright Company, their Treasurer, Tim Gillig of Livingston & Haven, one of their Board members, Gordon Weiler of Daman Products Company, and their Executive Director, Trish Lilly.
Our first order of business was to review and reaffirm the statement of collaboration that exists between NFPA and FPDA. If you haven’t seen this document, it is available on our website at: http://www.nfpa.com/aboutnfpa/nfpa-or-fpda.aspx
There’s also a link there to a short presentation on the lines of similarity and difference between NFPA and FPDA. Our leaderships helped develop this information to assist individuals and organizations in understanding the distinctions between the two organizations and to help them decide whether they belong as members of one or the other or both. Feedback that both organizations has received from their respective memberships for detailing and presenting this information has been favorable.
We next talked about the status of the major collaborative project that NFPA and FPDA are working on—the Energy Efficient Hydraulics and Pneumatics Conference (EEHPC) that has been offered (also in partnership with the International Fluid Power Society) in each of the last three years. The objective of this program is to educate engineers and technicians in fluid power’s customer markets about how to design and maintain energy efficient hydraulic and pneumatic systems. It is envisioned as a place where NFPA and FPDA members can interact with each other and with potential customers. Through three stand-alone events in Chicago each of the last three Novembers, the three sponsoring organizations have successfully built some outstanding content, but have frankly struggled to attract the core customer audience that the content is designed for. So, the leadership group discussed the possibility of co-locating a future EEHPC with IFPE, the international fluid power trade show co-located with CONEXPO-CON/AGG. Having access to the customer audience built into IFPE and CONEXPO would provide a much higher profile for EEHPC, and it was agreed that such a direction should be pursued for IFPE 2017.
We also talked about other areas of possible collaboration between NFPA and FPDA. Although no commitments were made, two areas received the most attention. The first was a possible collaboration between the NFPA Future Leaders Network and the FPDA Young Executives Forum. The second was FPDA support of NFPA’s efforts to connect with the U.S. Department of Energy for support of fluid power research and education programs. Both topics will receive more attention at the next leadership meeting, scheduled for the 2015 NFPA Annual Conference in San Diego.
The spirit of collegiality and collaboration that exists and that is being nurtured through these meetings is very important to both organizations and to the future of the fluid power industry. I’ll do my best to keep NFPA members up-to-date on these on-going conversations.