This November, the three leading fluid power organizations—The International Fluid Power Society (IFPS), the FPDA Motion and Control Network (FPDA), and the National Fluid Power Association (NFPA)—will once again embark on a mission of education and training to ensure fluid power is a more competitive and logical technology choice now and for the future. Based on industry feedback from the last two conferences, the curriculum development team (led by Jon Jensen, CFPAI, SMC Corp. of America; Pat Maluso, CPFAI, Western Hydrostatics; Rance Herren, CFPAI, National Oilwell Varco; and Mark Perry, CFPHS, Fitzsimmons Hydraulics) secured top-notch speakers for this year’s topics.
The Fluid Power Systems Conference (formerly known as the Energy Efficient Hydraulic and Pneumatic Conference) is being held from November 19-21, 2013 at the Doubletree Hotel in Rosemont, Ill. This successful conference will provide a dynamic, interactive environment where industry engineers and technicians can learn design concepts critical to developing efficient fluid power systems along with the diagnostic and maintenance techniques essential to keeping those systems operating at peak efficiency.
With fluid power used in dozens of industries and hundreds of applications to precisely control movement of machinery and material, the conference will provide an optimum setting to fortify the professional’s skill set. Included in this powerhouse symposium will be hands-on instruction, facilitated roundtables, and networking events designed to augment the participants’ knowledge base of the newest, cutting-edge developments in energy-efficient and reliable hydraulics and pneumatics.
Highlighting the conference’s agenda will be the keynote lecture by Gary W. Rogers, president and CEO of FEV, Inc. Mr. Rogers currently sits on the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) Board on Energy and Environmental Systems and on the Medium and Heavy-Duty Truck CO2 and Fuel Economy Phase 2 committee for the NAS. His address, “Reducing Energy and Expenses Utilizing Hydraulic Hybrid Waste Trucks, Transit Buses, and Delivery Vehicles,” will focus on the state of development of hydraulic hybrid systems with respect to commercial vehicles, including factors such as efficiency, commonality of infrastructure, and the total cost of ownership. The technology will be paralleled to hybrid electric and CNG-fueled alternatives.
The Fluid Power Systems Conference is your vehicle to enhancing your educational prowess, both for yourself and your organization. The key to maximizing gains from this three-day program is taking advantage of each instructional opportunity available. In today’s competitive marketplace, success depends on persuading potential customers that your company is the business of choice. How effectively and cost-efficiently you provide the positive-end results clients want depends on a vast array of expertise, good references, and rock-solid reputation.
Make the most of your experience at the conference, and if you have not already done so, consider certification in your respective discipline. This will reflect your dedication to the highest standards in the fluid power industry while acting as a conduit of satisfaction to customers, ensuring improved safety, reliability, and greater efficiency.
A host of educational opportunities are at your fingertips within the conference; don’t pass up this chance. For complete details and to register for the conference, go to www.ifps.org.
Donna Pollander, ACA, IFPS Executive Director
Certification adds a third dimension to your portfolio; education and experience are the other two.
In baseball, we look for a player with the complete package—one who can throw, bat, catch, run, and be smart enough to make the many quick decisions that inevitably impact the outcome of a game. Certification in our industry mimics this complete package. It lets people know that you have, in addition to experience and education, specialization in fluid power and that you have taken the time to document your expertise. It lets the world know you are a critical member of the “team.”
Fluid power has had many innovations since the 1980s. Probably the most significant is proportional controls. Fast forward 30 years and all of a sudden we are dealing with programmable logic controllers, motion controllers, analog and digital drivers, load cells, linear variable displacement transducers (LVDT), proportional integral derivative (PID) controllers—the list goes on and on. These innovative technologies require in-depth knowledge of electronics in addition to basic hydraulics.
Fluid power isn’t just for log splitting anymore. In addition to electronics, advances in proportional valve technology and servo valve technology have allowed fluid power to reach into applications that used to be reserved for the electromechanical industry. Again, applying these valves requires knowledge of frequency response technology and closed-loop controls. Certification is a key way of keeping up with this technology and letting your industry know that you have the fundamental knowledge necessary to apply it.
When I first heard of fluid power certification in the early 90s, I was very interested. I saw it as a way to achieve a higher level of accomplishment. Monetary gain was not the main motive. For me, it was more about pride and bragging rights. Since then, I have had many discussions with colleagues about the benefits of being certified. It’s funny how almost everybody who isn’t certified doesn’t feel the need to certify, whereas those who are certified are always looking for new certifications to add to their portfolios and other ways of growing professionally.
Recently, a group of young engineers that I work with decided to take the certification test. They were also joined by a few senior engineers motivated by the younger group. I met with them several times when they were preparing for the test. I reminded them that taking the test is not like running a race—it’s more like achieving a goal. So, if you don’t pass the first time, there’s no shame in going back and taking the test again and again. And again, until you pass. Afterward, while they all agreed that taking the test was no walk in the park, most of them passed the test. The one thing that impressed me the most was that one of the fellows who didn’t pass the test went ahead and re-took the test almost immediately. And he passed it. I don’t know who was more proud.
At the end of the day, it’s really up to us—on an individual level—to take the next step. If you haven’t gotten your certification, look into it. Get started by preparing to take the test. Don’t assume that just because you’ve been in fluid power for years you’re going to breeze through the test. It takes hard work and substantial preparation. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the rewards of getting certified are real. You probably won’t become the next CEO of your company, but the CEO will surely look at you differently. So, too, will your customers and colleagues see you in a different professional light.
For those of you who have been certified, I urge you to promote the certification process as a positive experience for both the employer and the employee—not as a competitive challenge. This will simply drive people away.
As the industry continues to move forward in areas like energy recovery, energy-efficient systems, alternative energy, smart components, etc., the certification process will become increasingly beneficial and integral to our professional growth. With all of these fast-paced developments, I ask: Can you really afford not to be certified?
About the Author: Bert Martinez, CFPE, CMfgE, has 44 years of experience in hydraulic cartridge valves, integrated circuits, and electrohydraulics. He currently works in marketing/engineering for Sun Hydraulics.
The term “outreach” isn’t typically associated with our professional lives. When I think of outreach, I think of church or a volunteer organization. There are plenty of opportunities and organizations to choose from; just throw a stone in any direction and you’ll hit a target.
As a member of IFPS’s Chapter 49 & 50 in my seventh year, I’m proud to have been a part of outreach in a way I never imagined as a fluid power professional. If your chapter is looking for ways to benefit your local community, you’re in luck, as our chapter has done this for years. This is how it started.
If you’ve ever been to a local chapter meeting, chances are you’ve met a fluid power vendor (or are one) and that vendor’s (or your – eek!) competitor. That can be a tricky scenario to navigate for everyone involved.
Our solution to that issue came in the form of a high school student. Our chapter treasurer, Ryan Remmers, had a son who was involved in FIRST, a robotics competition. The goal at the high school level is to build a robot within certain specifications and pilot it remotely, coordinating tasks with other teams while trying to outscore opponents. I highly recommend checking out www.usfirst.org for ways to volunteer anywhere in the world.
The budget for a team’s competition season can be as much as $20,000 or more. Teams fundraise with activities such as car washes and bake sales. As we were discussing upcoming chapter meeting topics, Ryan suggested the chapter donate funds to local FIRST teams that were in need.
This was terrific, as it instantly hit several points for a chapter’s existence:
- Users of fluid power + competitors + small meeting room = potential hornet’s nest!
- Outreach provides a reason for a chapter to exist and a task that everyone, regardless of professional position, can focus on and give to equally.
- Big key: With outreach, you can influence your community within your profession and pass along skills to kids. How cool is that?
We invited three FIRST teams to our November 2007 meeting and asked them to make a presentation. Each team told us about “Gracious Professionalism” (see the website for more information), details of last year’s robot, different jobs and their requirements (programmers, pilots, mechanical designers), and all about team spirit. It was a blast to see the enthusiasm about robotics and in our case, fluid power. Teams are usually allowed an air compressor and a reason to use an actuator, an example being shooting a basketball at a hoop.
We ended up giving away more than $3,000 that night! After the teams left our meeting, we were all in shock as to how much fun this event was. We’ve done this every year since and have donated more than $18,000 total.
Please contact me with any questions. Everyone associated with our chapter would tell you that outreach is worth your time. Imagine finding an opportunity to help your community via your profession…it’s right in front of you.
By Scott Gower, CFPS, IFPS Chapter 49 & 50 – Treasurer, Past President (email@example.com)