When I attended my first IFPE back in 2011, I really had no idea what to expect. But three years makes a big difference and I came in excited and ready to go. And after several successful meetings and booth tours, I think it’s safe to say that the theme from many of the manufacturers this year is the importance of systems integration. These companies, be they Parker Hannifin, Bosch Rexroth, or HydraForce, don’t want to just sell components. They want to be a complete system integrator for their clients, thus are showing their capabilities throughout an entire machine at this year’s IFPE.
And it’s not just talk either; the visual aids in the booths are truly bringing this system-wide design to life. A quick tour at HydraForce’s booth wrapped up with a look at a special touch screen it has, in which mobile machinery, be it excavators, backhoes and the like, are driving around a small area of land. Clicking on any of these machines gives the user the option to select systems throughout the machine, and then clicking further gives product and technology options HydraForce can supply. It was a cool visual display and a useful tool to truly bring these components and systems to life.
Up next was a tour of the Parker Hannifin booth, where open, simple “models” of mobile machines showed the system designs available from that company. As Parker’s Bill Brandt, business development manager, said, his group’s goal is to break the customer’s needs down by market, then by platform, and then finally by subsystem. The models on display showed a variety of components—from displays and touch screens to electric motors and Kleenvent reservoirs to the new EZ form hose—applied in machine subsystems. Instead of simply specifying a component that might suit a customer’s needs, the systems team is meant to look at a function and find out how to make it most efficient using Parker technologies. In the end, this will hopefully eliminate leak points, reduce installation time, and reduce costs, Brandt said.
Finally, the “pop” at Bosch Rexroth’s booth came in the form of its multifunctional display, which again highlighted the company’s technologies throughout a generic mobile machine. Said Jorn Petersen, the intent is to detach from what Bosch Rexroth is showing and portray its overall capabilities for OEMs. Encompassing actual products to touch screen videos and animations, the display—which showed everything from fuel injectors to cooling packages and hydromechanical variable transmissions to open loop pumps—was designed to show how Bosch can help OEMs continue to meet Tier IV requirements by managing energy consumption.
This trend of system integration has slowly been gaining momentum and will clearly continue to grow. Although they have always had a truly systems approach, it’s clear that fluid power manufacturers are no longer focused on the narrow concept of just selling products but more of being the complete provider of system design.