American manufacturing companies hold many keys to success. Lately, two ideas that come to mind most often are research and innovation. They are so connected, you can’t help but think of one without the other. Companies that manufacture and sell fluid power components are no exception. In fact, at the National Fluid Power Association’s Annual Conference last March, one of the speakers discussed the need for innovation — especially in fluid power technology.

On one hand, component manufacturers need to continuously conduct research and development of products to create new and better ones. The next generation of fluid power components is actually an ongoing development. As we’ve reported many times in this magazine, the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power is one example of where fluid power research is being done. Innovation comes from this type of research, and manufacturers must conduct research to help them develop products that serve the latest needs of their customers. They need to keep developing lighter, faster, quieter, and more efficient components to compete in the U.S. and world markets. I believe that our manufactures are winning and will continue to win in this arena.

On the other hand, here at H&P, we conduct a variety of research programs, for ourselves and our clients. Most recently, our OEM Outlook report indicated that the need for innovation is strong in all facets of engineering, including designers and users of fluid power systems. As the report indicates, engineering is a multidisciplinary profession, where innovation drives growth and provides a competitive advantage.

Key statistics summarized in this report include a roundup of several other research projects, such as the “Job Outlook 2013” survey, in which the National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that employers plan to hire 13% more new college graduates in 2012-13 than they did in 2011-12. Another figure indicates that manufacturing production will increase 2% in 2013 and 3.2% in 2014, with 3.6% growth from 2015 to 2017.

It’s information like this that shows we are — and will continue to be — in a strong, successful industry. Equipped with information such as this, providers and consumers of fluid power components can continue to move forward with new and more functional products in the marketplace. They continue to innovate and move our industry forward.