1. Positive reviews. Exhibitors and attendees across the board said the show was a successful endeavor. Record-breaking attendance topped 18,000 this year, up 13% from the 2013 gathering, and 950 exhibitors included more than 250 new entrants.
The biggest downside: rotten weather. Cool and rainy conditions plagued the show for most of the three-day run, putting a damper on foot traffic in the extensive outdoor exhibition areas.
2. Fluid-power focus. ICUEE has become one of the premier fluid-power shows in the U.S. Officially, about 60 companies exhibited hydraulic components and systems. But add in all the manufacturers of controls, sensors, software and related gear and that number easily doubles.
In tandem with hydraulics manufacturers was a wide range of OEMs showcasing fluid-power’s strengths. Virtually every fluid-power exhibitor not only talked up its products, but touted actual examples in various machines at ICUEE. Literally hundreds of pieces of equipment were on display including scores of aerial lifts, as well as skid steers, boring machines, chipper/shredders, compactors, cranes, and excavators. On top of that, more than 40 companies showed off attachments, most hydraulically powered, like grapples, tiltrotators, mowers and augers.
3. Hands-on show. For engineers usually chained to their desks, ICUEE is a great opportunity to look under the hood, climb on or under equipment, see numerous live demonstrations, and even take a test drive. If you’re skeptical, stay tuned for a video of my colleague, Associate Editor Mike Santora, 105 feet up in a Terex Hi-Ranger aerial lift!
4. “Nervous” outlook. Based on conversations at the show, most hydraulics manufacturers and OEMs feel that current economic conditions are unsettled at best. Anything related to ag, mining, or fracking has taken a major revenue hit. Construction is treading water. Fortunately, some industrial and consumer-related sectors are doing relatively well. But most fear there is more potential pain ahead, rather than an upturn.
5. The Chinese are coming. This year’s ICUEE included a small China pavilion, as well as a number of other Asian companies new to the show. Companies from across the Pacific aren’t new to the U.S., but they’re increasing in number and the growing vibe is that they are getting serious about making inroads. They’re obviously looking to expand from their home turf and tackle the huge North America market, touting extensive design and manufacturing experience, price advantages, and quality.
6. Domestic manufacturers aren’t standing pat. No one is blindsided by advances from Asia. Domestic manufacturers, and European fluid-power companies with a long presence in the U.S., are working hard to head off the new competition by stressing unmatched quality, engineering expertise, application experience, reliability, and better overall value – total cost of ownership.
Stay tuned to see who will best benefit OEMs in the long run.