When 2011 started, I would have expected that the triennial IFPE show would have been the talk of the year. And the show was an impressive one, with more than 400 exhibitors, 100,000+ attendees at the combined co-located shows (including CONEXPO and CON/AGG) and a wonderful technical conference. But what I find perhaps most significant for the industry was how three of the main fluid power organizations came together in a joint effort to discuss efficiency.
In November, the NFPA, IFPS and FPDA all co-sponsored the first-ever Energy Efficient Hydraulics and Pneumatics Conference, a two-day event that dealt with this critical topic. Given that CCEFP research shows that between 2.3% and 3.0% of the energy consumed in the U.S. is transmitted through fluid power systems, and that the average efficiency of those systems is a mere 21%, it’s clear that there is work to be done. And that work could have drastic consequences. A 5% improvement in system efficiency over the next 5 years would mean a savings of between 9 and 11 BILLION dollars. That shows why the industry needs to focus on continual improvement in efficienct, from both the component design and the system design level. Hopefully, funding for critical programs like the CCEFP and the Compressed Air Challenge, will continue—and even increase.
I was also impressed with 2011’s unveiling of the Altair BUSolutions prototype, a series hydraulic bus that achieves 6.9 mpg compared to 3.3 mpg for a same class diesel bus. With companies like Parker Hannifin and Eaton heavy into refuse trucks and UPS delivery vehicles, the techology has been proven, and it seems logical for city buses to become the next big target. A lot of further improvements have to be made to consider such systems for larger SUVs, but the idea that they could someday make their way into the consumer vehicle market is not as farfetched as it was even a few years ago.
Beyond that, it has been interesting the watch how fluid power continues to grow online. iPad and iPhone apps, from our own Design World magazine, as well as companies like Trelleborg and Bosch Rexroth, continue to sprout. And websites are being redesigned outright or adding great functionality—Bimba, Peter Paul, Control Air and Norgren, just to name a few.
Looking forward to a great 2012—and continuing to bring you all the latest fluid power news, technology, training and more.