With nearly 20 years at Sun Hydraulics, including the past decade as its chief financial officer, incoming National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) Chairwoman Tricia Fulton has watched the industry go through up and down cycles, so she sees the current weakness in some industrial markets as par for the course. Fulton recently discussed her company and the future of fluid power with Today’s Motor Vehicles.
Today’s Motor Vehicles: With manufacturing and machinery getting more precise, how have Sun’s products adapted?
Tricia Fulton: Sun’s products typically perform at higher pressures and flow rates than our competitors, and we have always developed technology and processes to produce high-quality, reliable products. Sophistication of machinery and equipment is a global megatrend that is having, and will continue to have, a large impact on our industry.
TMV: How important do you think software and apps will be in combining traditional industrial power systems (hydraulics and pneumatics) with data systems?
TF: One of the global megatrends impacting the future of capital and industrial goods markets is computing power which encompasses electrification, digitalization, and energy savings. Digital tools which combine the power of hydraulics with data systems are important now and their relevance will continue to escalate for the equipment builders utilizing our products.
Sun introduced a new smart valve last year which utilizes a Bluetooth-configurable embedded amplifier to easily set or adjust the valve using your smart phone, even from 30ft away. This product was developed in conjunction with our electronic controls company, High Country Tek (HCT). Electronic machine control is a growing part of most hydraulic systems.
TMV: What are the biggest opportunities facing the industry?
TF: Every day there are new applications identified for fluid power. We need companies in our industry to be creative and find new ways to exploit the power of hydraulics and pneumatics.
TMV: How is the NFPA preparing he industry for the future?
TF: The NFPA has been working with the Center for Compact & Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP) the past several years to identify funding sources for pre-competitive research projects related to fluid power. CCEFP is working with several governmental agencies to secure grant funding for research projects that cover many topics affecting our industry.
Universities participating in the CCEFP have introduced thousands of engineering students to fluid power through their curriculums and research projects. These students are the incoming and future engineers and company leaders in our industry. We are engaged in programs to introduce and further the education of students at the technical school and university level as well as middle and high school students.
Sun Hydraulics Corp.