By Michael Degan, Editor, Fluid Power Journal.
Get ready for March madness. No, not that one. We’re talking about IFPE.
If you’re attending the International Fluid Power Exposition, March 14-18 in Las Vegas, you’ll be able to see other people’s faces, shake hands, gather closely in small groups, and you won’t have to sanitize every two minutes.
Three years ago at IFPE, the coronavirus pandemic was just taking hold in the U.S. The sense of uncertainty throughout the exhibit hall was palpable. Travel restrictions kept some international companies away, and four of fluid power’s biggest players – Parker Hannifin, Eaton, Danfoss, and Bosch Rexroth – stayed home, as the saying goes, out of an abundance of caution.
As the concerns of show organizers grew, they worked closely with health authorities and instituted protocols aimed at preventing the spread of the illness. They encouraged a “no-handshake policy” and suggested attendees greet each other with fist or elbow bumps. They posted hand sanitizers all over the exhibit halls and worked to keep the place cleaner than usual.
Meanwhile, throughout the week of IFPE, U.S. health authorities and the media began talking in evermore urgent tones about the spreading coronavirus. State governments classified businesses as “essential” and “nonessential,” the latter of which were ordered to shut down and keep their employees home. (Most fluid power companies were categorized as essential.) Responding to this growing sense of alarm, and as travel restrictions grew, IFPE organizers decided to end the show a day early, closing Friday instead of Saturday as usual.
After IFPE 2020, organizers reported that more than 130,000 people attended and cancellations were relatively few. Most exhibitors said they experienced “slow but steady foot traffic” during the show, Fluid Power Journal reported in its May 2020 issue.
Three years later, the industry has other worries. Economists forecast a recession this year. Inflation has been driving up costs, but fighting it by raising interest rates slows growth in many fluid power segments. Supply chain bottlenecks are easing but still common and damaging. And how can companies keep up with ever-increasing government regulations and mandates?
As fluid power companies wrestle with these and other problems, IFPE brings industry segments together to display new technologies and products, share knowledge, network, and buy equipment. Every three years at IFPE, industry stakeholders encounter the innovations and insights that equip fluid power engineers and manufacturers for the never-ending quest to increase efficiency, contain costs, and improve the performance of their hydraulic and pneumatic applications.
In March at the Las Vegas Convention Center, IFPE sets up shop alongside CONEXPO-CON/AGG, which organizers call the largest construction trade show in North America.
CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE have brought back the International Trade Center to help exhibitors and attendees “connect across oceans and languages,” the organizers said in a press release.
“The international audience for IFPE is significant,” John Rozum, IFPE show director, said in the press release. “These are the engineers, the product planners, the executives from OEMs all over the world. The fluid power and motion control technology on display at IFPE is what makes the construction equipment you see at CONEXPO-CON/AGG work, and that doesn’t change regardless of where the product is made.”
“The ITC is a really useful resource for international salespeople like me,” Matt McCormick, director of international sales at Cimline, said in the press release. “Having an area with translators on call in a quiet environment where we can offer an overseas visitor hospitality is valuable. I also find the input and presentations from the staff at the ITC to be useful.”
As always, IFPE offers a plethora of seminars and education sessions. Two workshops IFPE is heavily promoting are presented by professors from the Milwaukee School of Engineering. MSOE’s Medhat Khalil, director of professional education, leads Fundamentals of Hydraulic Systems 101 on Monday at 8 a.m. At 1 p.m., Paul Michael, an MSOE research chemist, presents Hydraulic Fluid Properties, Efficiency and Contamination Control.
For more information, visit www.ifpe.com.