Each year the National Fluid Power Association publishes an Annual Report on the U.S. Fluid Power Industry. The report is always full of the latest industry stats. For example the 2015 report included:
- Fluid power (hydraulics and pneumatics) is a workhorse of the U.S. economy. It is a cross-cutting technology of choice for dozens of industries and hundreds of applications.
- In 2015, the manufacture of fluid power components was a $19.3 billion industry.
- The U.S. fluid power industry is strongly competitive around the world, with 2015 exports valued at $5.7 billion.
- It is estimated that 846 companies in the United States employ more than 72,500 people in the manufacture of fluid power components, representing an annual payroll of more than $4.7 billion.
- Fluid power has a significant downstream economic impact. Ten key industries that depend on fluid power are estimated to represent more than 23,700 companies in the United States, employing more than 884,200 people with an annual payroll of more than $56.1 billion.
While all of these facts are interesting and informative, the most intriguing part of the report was the look at where the industry is heading; Specifically R&D in the arena of human scale systems and collaborative robots for U.S. Military use.
In an era of increased terrorist actively, it becomes increasingly important to protect our nation’s infrastructure. Successfully accomplishing this function requires more than simple manpower. It requires overcoming human limitations including energy decline, boredom and physical inability. The Department of Defense has developed a Mobile Detection and Response System to provide automated intrusion detection for DoD warehouses and storage sites.
Intrusion detection isn’t the only military application that will require hydraulic integrated circuits. According to Henrik Christensen, director of the Institute for Contextual Robotics at UC San Diego, “Robots will continue to replace the dirty, dull and dangerous jobs. Logistics tasks will not be solved by people driving around in trucks. Instead, you will have fewer drivers. The lead driver in a convoy might be human, but every truck following behind will not be.”
The Department of Defense has pursued a large variety of unmanned undersea vehicles, (UUVs) during the past decade, mostly for mine clearing and ocean surveillance and launched from surface ships or shore. In many of these military applications, ways to decrease the size of fluid power components, or to combine them into compact and integrated systems, will be critical. Continued research is required to develop compact and lightweight fluid power sources.
What is clear is that there are multiple applications and need for HICs in both infrastructure and military applications. The development of compact systems will likely change the way the U.S. Military operates in the future. What is exciting is the roll that companies like Hydraulic Manifolds USA will play in the future. We’re proud to be part of an industry that plays such a vital role in both our economy and the defense of our nation. Contact the engineering experts at Hydraulic Manifolds USA for all of your custom hydraulic integrated circuit needs.