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Same old or change street sign

Imagining a “GPS for Change”

Nov. 1, 2021
On the road to transformation, standing still means you’re going to watch as others fly past you.

The road to change can be crowded, messy and occasionally clogged by collisions. That’s also almost unavoidable. Sometimes the road is paved with good intentions, but there are those willing to stick up roadblocks—internal and external—to keep change from moving forward. And since there’s no speed limit on the road to change, it’s impossible to know how fast you ought to be moving. Too slow often is as dangerous as too fast.

If this were a real road, you’d want to rely on a GPS system. GPS can show you not just where you’re at and where you’re headed, but also lays out the most efficient route and can alert you to roadblocks.

So is there a GPS for change? Absolutely.

We work in an age of sensors and analytics. They provide the fundamental knowledge of where your road is today. You can assess the current health of your system—everything from heat to vibration to efficiency of energy use. That allows you to know where you’re starting from. Now you have to figure out where you want to go.

Two recent H&P articles highlight companies that are picking their direction. We have an interview with Valeria Tirelli, CEO of Aidro, a hydraulics and fluid power manufacturer based in Taino, Italy that focuses on volume production hydraulic and fluid power systems for oil and gas, agricultural equipment, aerospace, mobile and industrial machinery. Aidro’s move to incorporate additive manufacturing into fluid power parts design was validated by its recent acquisition by Desktop Metal. This shows the potential for additive manufacturing in the fluid power industry.

Then there’s the use of PID controls (proportional-integral-derivative) to help correct errors in real time. As author Ian Miller of Motion notes, if you haven’t considered PID Controls in hydraulics, you should.

“Implementing PID control into hydraulic systems has resulted in unique technologies and equipment designs,” Miller writes this month. “When envisioning the possibilities, it is important to keep an open mind. The degree of system controllability is particularly interesting.”

The three keys words in that quote that jump out at me are “envisioning the possibilities.” The reality on the road to change is that standing still means you’re going to watch as other fly past you. That’s progress. And when you do get on the road again, catching up takes a lot of time and effort.

About the Author

Bob Vavra | Senior Content Director, Power & Motion and Machine Design

Bob Vavra is the Senior Content Director of Power & Motion and its sister publication Machine Design. Vavra has had a long career in publishing, media and events. He has covered all aspects of manufacturing for the past 20 years and is a regular attendee at events such as IMTS and Hannover Messe. Vavra is also a sought-after webcast moderator and event emcee, and has presided over events in the U.S., Germany and China. 

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