By Eric Lanke, NFPA President/CEO
Eighty-four members of the NFPA Roadmap Committee met virtually on March 4, 2021, to review the results of a recent survey NFPA conducted on capability improvements needed for fluid power systems to better meet the needs expressed by key technology drivers in fluid power’s largest customer markets.
The survey received responses from 70 individuals across the fluid power supply chain, including many members of partnering distribution and customer market trade associations. Respondents were first asked to rank the importance of each technology driver in fluid power’s largest customer markets. Based on that feedback, the Roadmap Committee finalized the following list of customer drivers for the 2021 NFPA Technology Roadmap:
- Increased availability and up-time
- Increased productivity and performance, including through efforts to provide autonomous functions and operations, and to use integrated data and intelligence
- On-time delivery of the machine, including through efforts to decrease lead time in getting the machine
- Lower capital and operating costs
- Compliance with environmental and safety regulations and machine directives
- Easier and more predictable maintenance, including through efforts to use integrated data and intelligence
- Increased energy efficiency, including though efforts to reduce weight and increase power density
- Increased availability and up-time
The survey also tested fluid power’s current alignment with these customer needs, and the areas, or capability improvements, where fluid power components and systems should focus in order to meet or better meet them. Based on that feedback, the Roadmap Committee drafted the following list of capability improvements to drive the remaining discussions in the Roadmap refresh process:
- Improve fluid power control systems (including through electrification)
- Monitor, gather and use data generated from working fluid power products to add value
- Improve fluid power’s reliability and durability
- Increase fluid power’s energy efficiency
- Increase fluid power’s power density
- Reduce the environmental impact of fluid power components and systems
- Reduce lead time for fluid power components and their control elements
A full report of the survey results, which shows the detailed rankings and scores for the customers drivers and capability improvements, 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 fluid power customer markets in helping them determine the objectives that are driving their technology decisions and areas of improvement for their own products.
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 recent meeting on capability improvements was the second 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.
Next up is an analysis of the pre-competitive research areas that the fluid power industry should embrace in order to bring about the improvements described by the capability improvements. A new survey on all that subject has been launched at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HY85FS7
The new survey will also help the Committee prioritize the capability improvements and align them with the customer drivers. The survey contains a lot of detail, and will probably take about 20-30 minutes to complete. It will remain open until April 1, 2021.
The Roadmap Committee will review the new survey results at a series of Working Group meetings in April and May 2021, and then reconvene to harmonize all the individual Working Group discussions at its next scheduled meeting on June 3, 2021.
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