Fluid Power Journal

Notable Words

Next-Generation Hydraulics: Efficient Machines, Precise Control

Nate-AlmeIn today’s hydraulic marketplace, manufacturers and end users need efficient equipment they can rely on to get the job done. Regardless of the end application, equipment is facing growing expectations for productivity, efficiency, safety, and machine controllability.

As companies look to build smarter, more precise machines, hydraulics needs to become smarter, as well. Where hydraulic equipment typically provides the muscle to make machines effective, the new trend towards intelligent machinery is driving changes in the industry. Utilizing hydraulic products with embedded electronic technology helps make machines even more effective, with the level of controls needed for efficient and productive operation.

Precision control, a key part of Eaton’s complete hydraulic solution for a precise and powerful excavator, is a must-have to keep machines operating at maximum efficiency. During the recent International Fluid Power Expo, Eaton hosted a contest on an excavator demonstrator – the fastest operator to score four baskets was the winner. Our winner sunk all four basketballs in an astonishing 39 seconds – imagine that kind of speed and precision applied on a jobsite. The demonstrator featured Eaton’s DuraForceTM piston pumps and motors, which offer extreme precision and durability to keep construction and mining applications up and running.

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Nate Alme leads the marketing initiatives for Eaton’s mobile hydraulics portfolio. He joined the company in 1988 and has progressed through numerous roles in product engineering, application and system engineering, product management, and marketing. To learn more about Eaton’s hydraulic solutions, visit www.eaton.com/hydraulics.

MOOCs and the Future of Fluid Power Education

kim-stelsonFluid power is an important enabling technology for mechanical, agricultural, and aerospace engineering. These disciplines graduate over 20,000 engineers a year, and every one of these graduates should be familiar with fluid power as part of their degree program. However, access to fluid power education is an enormous challenge at the university level. This challenge must be addressed, since familiarity with fluid power is important for all engineers, not just those working in the industry. Potential applications of fluid power exist in nearly all industries, and it is important to have well-educated potential users.

We at the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power are committed to greatly expanding access to fluid power instruction. To help address the need, we have made fluid power videos available to the general public (www.ccefp.org/education-outreach/public-outreach/fluid-power-documentary), and have created a collection of open courseware at the university level, including lecture notes, mini-books, and videos of lectures (https://sites.google.com/site/fluidpoweropencourseware/material). Our two popular mini-books, “Fluid Power System Dynamics” by William Durfee and Zongxuan Sun of the University of Minnesota and “The Electrohydraulic Servovalve Coloring Book” by Rosamond Dolid of MTS System Corp., are available in downloadable PDF form for free or in bound form for a modest fee.

In spite of our best efforts, however, the expansion of fluid power education has been slow. Recently, a new and exciting approach, MOOCs, have emerged as a way of greatly expanding educational access. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course, and it is not unusual for a MOOC to have more than one million students. The University of Minnesota and CCEFP are developing a university-level fluid power MOOC entitled “Fundamentals of Fluid Power.” The course will be first taught in September of this year. The instructors are Will Durfee and Jim Van de Ven. The course is free and available to anyone, anywhere in the world. You can learn more from the Coursera link to the course: www.coursera.org/course/fluidpower. Please help us spread the word to those who may benefit.

By Kim A. Stelson, Professor and Director, Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP)

CCEFP is a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center established in June 2006. It is a network of researchers, educators, students, and industry working together to transform the fluid power industry—how it is researched, applied and studied. In addition to its grant from NSF, the Center is supported by its seven participating universities and more than 50 industrial partners. Visit www.ccefp.org.

Training the Fluid Power Professionals of the Future

brian-carrAsk a group of sixth graders what they would like to be when they grow up. You will receive glamorous answers, such as professional athletes and actors. You will hear prestigious answers, such as doctors and lawyers. You will also hear adventurous answers, such as police officers and pilots. If you ask the same question to that same group of students when they are high school seniors, you will likely receive some of the same answers, but many will state a profession they hadn’t thought about six years earlier. However, I’m fairly confident that a very small number of high school seniors utter the words “hydraulic” or “fluid power” when describing their future careers.

The fluid power industry, like many others, has the challenge of educating the populace about the industry and the opportunities within. Perfection Servo, a hydraulic and electronic industrial repair company, has faced this challenge for many years. Finding young talent with fluid power experience is difficult due to the pool being shallow, and finding experienced talent is even more difficult because those individuals are coveted assets of companies within our industry.

That typically leaves us to grow our talent from within. We will introduce intelligent and hardworking individuals to the world of fluid power by having them join our hydraulic teardown and prep team. Once they have paid their dues, we will offer company-sponsored fluid power education at local colleges. Those individuals who demonstrate an understanding of the discipline are then promoted into our hydraulic test department, and then the very best are selected to begin training as a hydraulic technician. This process of formal education and on-the-job training can take anywhere from 3-6 years. We invest a lot of time and money into these individuals, but in the end we are rewarded with a highly productive member of our team, and they are rewarded with a stable and high-paying career.

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This process has worked and will continue to work, but we are also experimenting with an internship program. We have partnered with Northwest State Community College and have offered two summer internships for those who are working towards their degree in Mechatronics. The program runs 10 weeks, and we provide a housing stipend and living wage. Our interns spend four days of every week working in our teardown/prep/test department, and one day shadowing an experienced technician. They learn a great deal about Perfection Servo’s business, the wide variety of hydraulic components in the marketplace, and the challenges that manufacturers and hydraulic service companies face.

The response we have received on the program has been terrific. Our interns have appreciated the real-world experience, and Perfection Servo has enjoyed contributing to the training of our future fluid power professionals. Perfection Servo’s internship program will continue to supply a steady infusion of talent and will enable Perfection Servo to remain a leader in the industrial hydraulic repair marketplace.

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Editor’s Note 

Does your company offer an internship and/or training program for the next generation of fluid power professionals? If so, we want to know about it. Contact kcoblitz@fluidpowerjournal.com to be featured in a future issue of the Fluid Power Journal.

By Brian J. Carr, General manager, Perfection Servo

Fluid Power Journal is the official publication of the International Fluid Power Society
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