What Is the Future of the Hydraulics Industry?
Our hydraulic industry is becoming more proactive. Up until now, most of us just gave the customers what they want. If their needs evolve into something new or different, we develop the specific request. It's nice to solve problems and we at Hydraulic Solutions of Wisconsin, Inc. take a great deal of pride in doing it.
But every once in a while, it's good to gaze into a crystal ball and see what might be just over the horizon. What is the future of hydraulics?
Electronic Control Will Make Hydraulic Equipment Smarter:
One thing hydraulics has going for it is its tremendous concentration of power. We refer to it as power density. Electronics can't match it, at least not yet. What electronics can provide is far better coordination and control. Then you get hydraulics for the brawn and computers for the brain. Matching these two better can't help but make hydraulics smarter and more efficient. Noise could be greatly reduced. It simply must happen.
Computers will become mounted more frequently on the hydraulic equipment itself. This will assure accurately distributed control. Think about what this will mean for motors, cylinders, valves and pumps. This is "electrohydraulics" and it is coming.
Worker Safety Will Be Much More Important
Hydraulic equipment is becoming ever more powerful. Unfortunately, operator skill is not developing at the same rate. A new operator - relatively unskilled - is often running demanding equipment which requires expertise from the operator. It's like a single engine airplane pilot being put at the controls of a 747. For the safety of the operator and the long-term viability of the equipment, the design of hydraulic equipment is going to have to be just like computers – more user-friendly.
Operational skill will always be important. The challenge will be to make the hydraulic equipment itself more "skillful." Computer-aided hydraulics are going to accomplish it. Get ready for hydraulic equipment with an ever-higher "IQ."
Size of Hydraulic Equipment May Shrink
These days, everything seems to be getting smaller. Computers, clothes (or are we all getting bigger?) and package sizes at the grocery store. It could be its hydraulics' turn to go on a diet to lose weight and trim size.
Think about the challenges our industry faces. Consider emission rules or fuel costs. If machine capability and performance can be maintained with a smaller size, there would be tremendous advantages in almost every regard - reduced costs, eco-friendliness and even engine size (if the hydraulic component would be smaller and require less power).
Tier 4 standards are being phased-in until 2015. These require particulate matter (PM) emissions and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions to be reduced by 90%. Better electronic controls and smarter hydraulics makes this goal much more achievable and affordable.
Hydraulic Maintenance Will Get Much More Attention
All across the industry, backup systems are being squeezed by cost considerations. This makes regular maintenance much more important. Here again, electronic controls can help deliver advancement. Perhaps component replacement will be accurately predicted. Maybe maintenance schedules can be better optimized. Downtime would be significantly reduced, resulting in less cost and more profits all across the board.
As you can see, the future of hydraulics is bright indeed. It plays a huge role in driving the American economy. Change is coming and it's accelerating. When it arrives, Hydraulic Solutions of Wisconsin will be right there with you to welcome it!