National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) published its original Technology Roadmap for the Fluid Power Industry in 2009 to provide NFPA member companies and their research partners with an industry-wide consensus regarding the research and development needs of the fluid power industry. Since its publication, the Roadmap has been used by the NFPA Education and Technology Foundation and the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP) to guide their respective research efforts, by NFPA to guide its standards development work, and by many NFPA members to inform decisions about research partnerships and product development.
NFPA is now releasing an updated document that revisits the six broad areas of Research Challenge identified by the original Roadmap. The update is the product of an NFPA task force comprised of fluid power component manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, and end-user representatives. In preparing its recommendations, the task force discussed research and market progress since 2009; reviewed customer feedback from a forum hosted by NFPA at the 2011 Energy Efficient Hydraulics and Pneumatics Conference, and defined and consulted a new definition for pre-competitive research projects. In its final analysis, the task force agreed to several revisions to the six Challenges, and organized them into categories to reflect the primary strategy that should be pursued in order to address each one.
The Research Challenges are to
- Increase the energy efficiency of fluid power components and systems;
- Improve and apply energy storage capabilities; and
- Reducie the size of fluid power components and systems.
The Market Education Challenges are to:
- Build “smart” components and systems;
- Improve the reliability of fluid power components and systems; and
- Reduce the environmental impact of fluid power components and systems.
Although the task force report suggests several market education and research and standardization initiatives to assist in addressing these challenges, it prioritizes education and the application of existing technologies and procedures in the marketplace as providing the greatest potential benefit in these areas.
The pre-competitive initiatives aligned with all six challenges comprise an agenda that can be used by organizations that wish to pursue projects of importance to the fluid power industry. NFPA will use the updated agenda to continue shaping and directing the research efforts of the NFPA Education & Technology Foundation and the CCEFP. With the addition of proposed standardization projects, NFPA will also use the agenda to propose activities for ISO Technical Committee 131, the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to that Committee, and other ISO Technical Committees associated with key end-use industries. With the addition of proposed market education projects, NFPA will also use the agenda to shape and direct a number of educational programs, including the Energy Efficient Hydraulics and Pneumatics Conference, now known as the Fluid Power Systems Conference, and the IFPE Technical Conference. It will also use the agenda as a vehicle by which to attract and organize additional funding for the projects and initiatives it describes.