The mood at the IFPE 2005 conference in Las Vegas is upbeat, with many vendors saying the recession that started the decade is a fading memory. Most say that after a surprisingly strong 2004, the coming year looks solidly upbeat.
Orders for the total fluid power industry rose 14.5 % during the past year, according to the Confidential Shipment Statistics report published by the National Fluid Power Association. “In 2004, we saw an aggressive recovery from the long recession,” says Eric Armstrong, economic and statistical services manager at the NFPA, headquartered in Milwaukee, WI (www.nfpa.com/default.asp?pid=64).
Most of that growth was in hydraulic systems, which rose 19.4 %. Both categories within hydraulics, mobile, industrial, grew at roughly the same rates, though orders in mobile applications were slightly higher. Shipments were a bit lower than orders, at 14.8 %.
The NFPA is expanding its categories to address the rapid growth in electronically-controlled hydraulics. Beginning this month, electronic controls will be included in company surveys. The other market tracked in the confidential statistics reports, pneumatics, saw a rise in orders of a scant 0.2 % during 2004.
Vendors are perhaps even more bullish on the current year after last year’s successes. “Our business was up over 40 % in 2004, and 2005 looks equally good,” says John Strickland, marketing director at Fairfield Manufacturing Co. Inc., a maker of hydrostatic drives based in Lafayette, IN (www.fairfieldmfg.com).
The outlook for other equipment suppliers is also upbeat. Engine maker Cummins Inc. of Columbus, IN, which sells many engines in off highway applications, notes that last year was surprisingly strong. “We sold 700,000 engines in 2004. That’s phenomenal,” says Dave Crompton, Cummins Vice President - MidRange Engine Sales. Cummins also expects to see continued growth this year (www.cummins.com).
Growth in hydraulic systems rose steadily in 2004.