NFPA Provides an Effective Forum for the Fluid Power Industry

Eric Lanke headshot 2017

By Eric Lanke
NFPA President/CEO

As our Board Chair Ray Chambers recently communicated, the NFPA Board of Directors met virtually in late June 2020 for its annual strategic retreat. Among other topics of focus, the Board reviewed the program successes NFPA achieved in its 2019-20 fiscal year. In this post, I would like to share with our membership ways for them to connect to those successful programs, especially those associated with NFPA’s first major objective: Providing our members with an effective forum, where fluid power suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors can work together to advance their collective interests.

In Ray’s previous post, he summarized our success in this area like this:

“Effective Forum is what we call our objective of bringing our membership together in ways that allow them to find new business opportunities and advance their collective interests. Here, we maintained our traditionally strong retention rate among members, which this year was buoyed by data from our biennial member satisfaction survey that showed high levels of satisfaction with NFPA. This diverse forum of fluid power suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors came together in near-record numbers at our numerous education and networking events, including our successful Annual Conference in Miami, our new Executive Leadership Program in partnership with the Kellogg School of Management, and in our many leadership and standards-setting committees and activities. Our members were joined by an increasing number of OEMs at our regional conferences, which have temporarily but successfully transitioned to an online format.”

There are a lot of ways for members to engage in these successful programs.

Our next Annual Conference, which we are currently planning as an in-person event at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona, will be held February 23-25, 2021. The NFPA Annual Conference is really a who’s-who of the fluid power industry, with company presidents, division presidents, high-level sales and marketing executives from across the fluid power supply chain always in attendance. The education program is right now coming together and is likely to focus on changes to global supply chain strategies, leading in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world, and voices of the customer in important markets.

  • Registration will open later this year, but preliminary information and access to the programs from past Annual Conferences can be found here.

Another education and virtual connection for everyone is the Red Bear Negotiations Workshop we’re hosting on September 9, 2020. At every major conference our Distributor Council hosts a special education event for our distributor members and any other member that wishes to participate, and this four-hour session with Red Bear arose out of a shorter event they hosted at the 2019 IEOC. It will be a great opportunity for people to learn and practice new negotiation skills.

  • Full information and registration details can be found here.

Our new Executive Leadership Program is going strong – again virtually during the pandemic, but coming back together in-person as soon as it is safe to do so. We’re working in collaboration with the Kellogg School of Management to offer a series of six programs on the topics most needed to help develop future leaders for our member companies. Cadenced over an eighteen-month period of time, the twenty or so participants enrolled in our first cohort work between sessions with their learning partners to apply the things that they are learning and to up their performance for their companies. Anyone interested in joining the second cohort – which will launch with the 2022 Annual Conference, should email me at elanke@nfpa.com.

  • More details on program content and fees can be found here.

A long list of leadership and standards-setting committees are still operating and serve as great opportunities to connect with your colleagues, competitors, and customers. On the standards side, remember that NFPA is the ISO secretariat for fluid power, responsible for 233 published ISO standards with 29 other standards currently under development. We have more than 150 industry volunteers working within these structures to help ensure a fair playing field for U.S.-based fluid power manufacturing, but we could certainly use more.

  • If you or your engineers would like to join the standards development efforts, your best bet is to contact Denise Husenica at the NFPA office at dhusenica@nfpa.com.

There are a lot of other engagement opportunities in our NFPA committees – with one of the most prominent being our Roadmap Committee, which, in early 2021, will begin it biennial process to update the NFPA Technology Roadmap. This process brings together a wide cross section of the fluid power supply chain to accomplish three key outcomes:

  1. Describe the evolving needs of our customers;
  2. Assess fluid power’s ability to meet those needs; and
  3. Identify R&D objectives that will help fluid power better meet those needs in the future.

A lot of members use this committee’s report to shape their own product development plans – and NFPA uses it to choose the topics that get presented at our Regional Conferences.

  • Those interested in joining the Roadmap Committee should contact me at elanke@nfpa.com.
  • You can find more information and download last year’s Roadmap document here.

And finally, those Regional Conferences are still being held every quarter – again, virtually until it is safe to go back to in-person gatherings. The next one will be on September 3, 2020, and its topic is focused on contamination and its impact on fluid power system efficiency, reliability and durability. These events are a great way for NFPA members to keep up-to-date on the latest technological changes in the industry. They are held in partnership with MSOE’s Fluid Power Industrial Consortium, which helps connect these programs to the all-important customers and OEMs that are driving many of the technological changes we discuss.

  • Registration for the September 3 event is now open here.

All of these activities mean that NFPA is the place where the fluid power industry can come together in an effective forum for its own education, networking, business development, and, when needed, collective action. If you would like your company to become more engaged with NFPA, please reach out to me at elanke@nfpa.com or (414) 778-3351.

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