By Roger Sherrard
Vice President and President, Aerospace Group, Parker Hannifin Corporation

As I take on the role of Chairman of the NFPA Board of Directors, we are witnessing a fluid power industry that is being shaped by changes in both technology and geography. On the technology front, electronic controls and hybrid-electric systems are changing fluid power's capabilities and applications focus. They are also changing the product offerings of many NFPA members. On the geographic front, U.S.-based fluid power companies are increasingly global in their footprints and their market strategies.
In this environment, NFPA's geographic and technological focus has remained steady on "North American fluid power for motion control applications." Your Board of Directors believes that the industry continues to value an association focused in this way, but if we are to understand the totality of our marketplace and position the association appropriately within its context, we need a mechanism to examine these "megatrends" and to help identify options for organizational growth and change.
It was for this purpose that I recently chaired NFPA’s Future of the Industry Task Force. In examining these issues, the task force members and I helped shape the strategy agenda that I led at the recent June 2013 NFPA Board of Directors Meeting.

In discussing the future geographic focus of the industry, several major drivers of change were identified. Among them, the increasing demand for food, urbanization, power, infrastructure and transportation in emerging markets as populations there continue to grow in size and affluence was significant, likely creating new business opportunities for fluid power both overseas and at home. The increasingly global ownership of OEMs was also cited, driving their suppliers onto a consolidated, global platform to better serve their needs.

Likewise, in discussing the future technological focus on the industry, several major drivers of change were also identified. Among them, increasing customer demand for customized products, manufactured and delivered quickly, and accompanying engineering design work was significant, likely creating rewards for suppliers with multi-technology capabilities and solutions-based approaches. Customer demand for products with better data acquisition properties, that integrate with GPS technology, and which contribute to sustainability and energy efficiency objectives were also cited, driving the course of technological development within the industry.

With these concepts providing an environmental framework, the Board then discussed NFPA’s mission to strengthen the fluid power industry, and potential future impacts on our three areas of strategic priority:
  • Workforce: Building and connecting our members to an educated fluid power workforce.
  • Technology: Promoting fluid power technology and fostering an innovative environment for the fluid power industry.
  • Inclusiveness: Serving as a forum where all fluid power channel partners work together.
It was an engaging and fruitful discussion. As an NFPA member, you should be assured that your Board is focused on the issues affecting the future of our industry, and that it works diligently to inject the latest thinking into our plans and activities.

We believe that even as fluid power becomes ever more integrated into a portfolio of motion control technologies, NFPA must remain focused on the core technologies of hydraulics and pneumatics.
  • As part of our Workforce strategy, we will continue to increase the amount of fluid power included in high school, 2-year college and university curriculums, knowing that the necessary workforce of the future will increasingly be comprised of a team of engineering and technical specialists, each needing a knowledge of fluid power to provide the best solutions to our customers.
  • As part of our Technology strategy, we will increase the exposure of fluid power doing good things in the marketplace—especially when integrated with other technologies and when addressing the greatest problems facing mankind. We know fluid power has exciting stories to tell, and it’s important for us to tell them more effectively.
  • And as part of our Inclusiveness strategy, we will re-examine the stakeholders important to our future growth and find new strategies for engaging with them. In this environment, national and international suppliers, fluid power component manufacturers, distributors and system integrators, OEMs and end-users all represent important engagement opportunities.
I am honored to serve as the NFPA Chairman this year. Please feel  free to contact me through the NFPA office if you have any questions, or would like to add your support to any of our efforts in our three key strategic areas.

Members of the 2013 NFPA Future of the Industry Task Force

•    Roger Sherrard, Vice President and President, Aerospace, Parker Hannifin

•    Jeffrey Finch, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Hydraulics, Eaton
•    Sean Gartland, President, Industrial Group, Moog
•    Richard Huss, President and CEO, Festo
•    Kevin Kampe, Vice President, Womack Machine Supply
•    Timothy Kuchta, Sales Director, SMC Corporation of America
•    Pat Lee, President, North American Fluid Power, Gates
•    Phil McCluskey, System Product Manager, Caterpillar
•    Art Smith, Vice President, International Marketing, Hydraforce
•    Jeff Stuart, President, Hydra-Power Systems
•    Marc Weston, Executive Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer, Sauer-Danfoss
•    Erwin Wieckowski, Vice President, Automation, Bosch Rexroth