A cause for optimism in fluid power?

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It’s been the heart of trade show season the last few months, with the triennial IFPE and the annual Hannover Messe and Offshore Technology Conference keeping the fluid power manufacturing community—not to mention us in the media—quite busy. It is always great to get out and see the new technology firsthand, to put your hands on the metal and get a true feeling for the new products being unveiled.

It’s clear to see that the miniaturization and lower costs of sensors continues to affect the fluid power space in a positive way. Machine monitoring is really taking off, from individual components to entire systems. Everything can—and is—being monitored, from hose to bearings to pumps to cylinders to seals. As you can see in our coverage in this issue, things like the IoT and GPS assistance in agricultural applications are becoming commonplace, helping to make gains in efficiency, performance and maintenance. Anyone using this sort technology will attest that it will continue to grow in importance.

I also find a lot of value in simply talking to people at tradeshows about how their companies are doing and what the outlook is for them. I heard a lot of manufacturers say that 2017 is looking a bit more positive for them, and they have confidence moving forward into 2018. From an industry perspective, about the only market people aren’t excited about is mining (and even a few people said there were a very few tiny glints appearing even in that field). Construction is making gains and ag is doing well for many people. Energy, while somewhat of a mixed bag due to oil prices, is still an area that companies see investment going into. Exhibitors at the OTC were cautiously optimistic about the remainder of the year.

And there’s good news on the trade show front, too. The combined IFPE-CONEXPO/CON-AGG shows featured a record 2.8 million square feet, with 128,000 attendees descending on the Las Vegas Convention Center. Meanwhile, the Hannover Messe announced that it was changing its every-other-year focus on fluid power and motion control technology to an annual thing—so the fluid power-centered halls at the trade fair will be open every year, instead of only during odd-numbered years. The change goes into effect in 2018.

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