NFPA Discusses Evolution of Supporting Technologies and Membership Impact

NFPA Discusses Evolution Supporting Technologies and Membership Impact
by Eric Lanke, NFPA President/CEO

The NFPA Board of Directors came together at the recent Annual Conference for a meeting to review the strategic, programmatic, and financial success of the NFPA and the NFPA Foundation. As reported in the just-published mid-term report and during our Annual Business Meeting, there is a great deal of progress being made on the programs designed to strengthen the fluid power industry, and NFPA remains is a strong financial position to continue advancing these initiatives.

One special topic that received the Board’s attention – and which will receive a deeper dive during its next strategic retreat in June 2023 – is the evolution of supporting technologies, and what adjustments, if any, NFPA should make to better accommodate and represent the emerging technologies.

In framing this initial discussion, the Board referenced the recent work of the NFPA Roadmap Committee, which has helped identify the key technological trends driving change in fluid power’s many customer markets. It came as no surprise to our Board members that the machine builders that represent our customer base are being driven by a small handful of top-level performance objectives – and that among those are the need for increased availability, increased productivity, lower costs, and compliance with regulations. But those machine builders are also employing an increasing number of technology strategies in order to achieve those objectives – and those strategies include significant moves towards autonomous functions, compact designs, connected capabilities, electrified power sources, energy efficiency, easier maintenance, sustainable materials, and lowering noise. This is the landscape in which fluid power finds itself adapting to better compete against other actuation technologies.

The Board has long recognized that fluid power technology is the connective tissue of our association, and that NFPA is uniquely positioned to represent the broad fluid power supply chain – bringing together a diverse set of stakeholders whose common interest remains the development and application of fluid power technologies. But, partially in response to these customer market trends, fluid power is incorporating more and more ancillary technologies (sensors, data analytics, automated controls, artificial intelligence, etc.) in order to better serve the needs of its customer base. So, the Board conducted an exploratory conversation about these technology zones, and ways that NFPA may expand its technology scope in order to better represent and support the evolving industry. Perhaps most importantly, the Board decided to theme much of its upcoming strategic retreat around this topic, with the goal of identifying tangible success metrics for NFPA to pursue.

Any NFPA member with an interest in this topic is welcome to participate in this upcoming discussion. One good way to do that is to join our Roadmap Committee and to participate in the many calls and discussions around these technology zones, and how fluid power is evolving and how it should evolve in order to increase its value to our customers. Please feel free to contact me at elanke@nfpa.com if you’d like to get more engaged.

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