The National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) has developed a technology roadmap outlining major challenges facing the hydraulics industry. The primary motivation behind this “roadmap” is realizing that the industry must evolve to overcome threats from electromechanical solutions.

Electromechanical solutions are increasingly being used in lieu of hydraulic equipment in the fluid industry’s core businesses, like power generation and sub-sea drilling applications.

Here are some key factors the NFPA, along with researchers from the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP), agree should be considered:

1 From a sustainability perspective, fluid power is similar to electric power and engine technology because improved efficiency is required for development of smaller machines, which consume fewer resources and emit fewer pollutants.

2 Arguably, hydraulic fluids are essentially the same as they were three decades ago. Some experts claim that without change, hydraulics could become an obsolete power source within the next 30 years.

3 Tribology (the study of friction wear, lubrication and the design of bearings) has been designated as one means of improving the efficiency of hydraulic equipment. It is one of the key areas being focused on at the CCEFP to ensure the necessity and relevance of the next generation of hydraulic systems.

4 The center’s experts want to change how fluid power technology is researched, applied, and studied. They want to reduce polluting petroleum usage and increase the ways in which fluid power improves the quality of life for certain population segments.

5 Other key research areas include: Improving system monitoring and maintenance, optimizing fluid selection, developing new fluids, and redesigning systems and components.

6 While there is an obvious focus on cutting costs in the manufacturing sector, maintaining a competitive edge by trimming the fat also places hydraulics at an advantage over electronics, because it has the potential to be much more cost effective.

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