By Eric Lanke
Eighty-eight members of the NFPA Roadmap Committee met virtually on January 21, 2021, to review the results of a recent survey NFPA conducted on technology drivers in the twenty largest fluid power customer markets.
The survey received responses from 113 individuals across the fluid power supply chain, including many members of partnering distribution and customer market trade associations. Respondents were asked to rank the importance of each customer driver that appeared in the 2019 NFPA Technology Roadmap for each customer market with which they were familiar. Those eight drivers, describing the capabilities that OEMs in these markets most want to deliver to their customers, are:
- Increased availability and up-time
- Increased productivity and performance
- Compliance with safety regulations and machine directives
- Lower capital and operating costs
- Easier and more predictable maintenance
- Greater integration of technologies, including data acquisition, utilization, and ownership
- Weight reductions and increased power density
- Autonomous operation
The survey results show some variations in importance for particular markets. In the aggregate, all the drivers were ranked as at least somewhat important, with “Increased availability and up-time” ranked highest and “Weight reductions and increased power density” ranked lowest.
A full report of the survey results, which shows the detailed rankings and scores for the eight customers drivers across the twenty markets, is included the Committee’s official report on its meeting, which can be downloaded here. The results can provide excellent guidance to companies that sell into these markets in helping them determine the objectives that are driving their technology decisions.
NFPA is also planning a panel discussion on this topic, to be held during its upcoming virtual Annual Conference on February 24, 2021. Click here to register for that event.
In addition to ranking the importance of the existing customer drivers, survey respondents were also asked to suggest any additional drivers that they would have ranked as important for the customer markets with which they were familiar. At its January 21 meeting, the Roadmap Committee reviewed these suggestions, and took specific actions to incorporate them into a revised list of customer drivers that will be used to frame the remaining elements of the 2021 NFPA Technology Roadmap. The suggestions dealt with several important trends in our customer markets, including on time delivery, connected intelligence, energy efficiency, automated functions, on-board diagnostics, and compliance with environmental regulations. A full description of these suggested drivers and the Committee’s action on each is included in their meeting report.
The NFPA Technology Roadmap is a document that 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. It is updated every two years under the guidance and leadership of the NFPA Roadmap Committee. Their initial meeting report on customer drivers is the first step in that refresh cycle that will culminate in the production of a new document in August 2021. Throughout this process, we will be seeking feedback from a wide array of stakeholders on the current needs of companies in fluid power’s many customer markets, how fluid power technologies currently align with those needs, and what improvements should be made to fluid power systems in order to better meet them.
A new survey on all those subjects has been launched at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GTHYQGJ
The new survey will help the Committee re-prioritize the revised list of customer drivers, define fluid power’s current ability to meet the needs expressed by those drivers, and explore the fluid power capability improvements that will be needed to better meet those needs in the future. The survey contains a lot of detail, and will probably take about 30-40 minutes to complete. It will remain open until February 18, 2021.
The Roadmap Committee will review the results and begin the process for defining needed fluid power capability improvements at its next meeting, scheduled for March 4, 2021.
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