It’s been a long three-year wait for this iteration of the IFPE Show, co-located with CONEXPO and CON/AGG in sunny Las Vegas. But we’re finally here, and attendees began spilling onto the floor right at 9:00 a.m. Walking the floor of the South Hall, where most of the IFPE exhibitors are located, it’s pretty impressive to see the amount of fluid power manufacturers represented here.
My morning’s highlight was a press meeting with executives from Bosch Rexroth, including Dr. Karl Tragl, Chairman of the Executive Board for Bosch Rexroth AG and Berend Bracht, President and CEO of Bosch Rexroth Americas.
Tragl said that the U.S. market is a key one for the company, and they see a lot of reindustrialization happening. The marine and offshore markets are particularly good for BR; they “grew in the double digits” there last year. But once hot China isn’t so hot anymore; the excavator market plummeted 80% last year and the crane market went down 40%.
Tragl spoke about how the so-called mega trend for this year’s combined shows was energy efficiency. And he said that his company, cognizant of global warming, was trying to do its part, continually asking, “How can we increase productivity and reduce energy use?” Some of the focuses for BR include energy recovery (be it mechanically, electrically, or hydraulic in nature), more work on energy on demand, and focusing on the design process, so that the entire end machine is optimized to be energy efficient.
Bracht added that, “We cannot only talk about products, we have to talk about innovation … such as speed to market for our customers.” Bracht explained that the company needs to invest in things like quality control and aftermarket service to keep customers happy. BR recently opened a new service center in Houston, and keeps growing its rapid delivery program, which now includes 4200 part numbers and promises those parts to the marketplace in 10 days or less. What’s more, the service is now in place in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Central Europe.
Other items of note:
* Tragl thinks the pendulum is swinging back as far as reshoring–somewhat. How much manufacturing comes back to the U.S. remains to be seen.
* BR is a believer in local production for local demand, as opposed to having a single inexpensive plant producing for the entire world.
* Their Bethlehem, Pa. plant is undergoing a 100,000 sq-ft expansion, with a planned opening in April.
* The company feels that hybrid technology will be gradually introduced to the markets on an evolving basis, and the agricultural machinery markets will likely lead the way, ahead of construction machinery.