With 2023 coming to a close, the Power & Motion team wanted to take a look back at some of the top articles of the year. Doing so helps to provide insight on where the fluid power and electronic motion control industry currently stands as well as dominating trends.
This year's top 10 articles were centered around three key themes:
- mergers and acquisitions
- new technology launches
While not new trends by any means, these themes help to demonstrate what is happening in the industry and are somewhat related to one another.
The business landscape is changing as more companies merge or acquire other companies. Over the last several years it has certainly felt like this is a trend which has greatly picked up steam. And it is only likely continue to help advance technology developments, especially those to meet the larger trends of electrification, automation and others. Companies can combine their expertise to speed up development time and more easily bring this knowledge in house.
Several of our top articles were related to coverage of technology launches at major industry events, which are always a great way to not only see a range of new concepts but also gauge the key areas of focus for manufacturers in the fluid power and electronic motion control space.
And with the ongoing push toward further electrification of everything from passenger cars and bicycles up to the largest trains and mining trucks, new technologies are being brought to market to enable this transition, including new batteries. There are also many companies coming together to better develop and optimize necessary solutions.
As our top 10 articles of 2023 show, there is a lot going on in the fluid power and electronic motion control industry to help further advance technology and the industry itself.
1 and 7. Emerson Acquires NI
Emerson's acquisition of NI (formerly National Instruments) took two of the spots on our top 10 list. The company's initial announcement of its acquisition plan in January 2023 was our most read article of the year. The company cited its admiration for NI's work and the enhancements possible to its own automation solutions as reasonsings for the acquisition.
In April, Emerson entered into a definitive agreement to acquire NI. Our updated piece on the progress of this merger was also high on our top 10 articles list, demonstrating the interest it garnered in the industry.
2. CONEXPO 2023: Construction Equipment Launches
CONEXPO-CON/AGG, one of the largest construction industry events which is co-located with the International Fluid Power Exposition (IFPE), took place in March 2023 and was the biggest yet. After the 2020 edition which was hampered by the COVID pandemic, it was clear the industry was ready to get back out there and see what new technologies were available.
Given construction equipment is the largest customer segment for the fluid power industry, and electronic motion control technologies like electric actuators are starting to make their way into this space, it was no surprise this piece on new equipment launches was at the top of our list. The number of electrification and automation announcements from OEMs during the show also helped demonstrate where the industry is with these growing trends.
3. Technology is Key to the Future of Farming
The agricultural industry has always been one of the more technologically advanced sectors in the heavy equipment space, and this will only increase as it struggles with finding skilled labor. Automation in particular is seen as a way to help farmers get more done with less, and is a key area of development for John Deere.
During CES 2023 — the world's largest electronics and technology show — the company discussed how technology will continue to help farmers feed a growing global population. It showcased its latest vision systems which help to monitor and automate various processes. It also debuted its first fully electric excavator, which was shown 2 months later at CONEXPO.
4. Technology Highlights from CES 2023
As noted above, CES has become the largest technology event and moved well beyond the consumer electronics focus it began with. Each year a range of companies, including those applicable to the fluid power and electronic motion control markets, showcase their latest developments.
New sensor and vision system technologies, electrification solutions and more are among those on display and of interest to our readers, as is the growing number of heavy equipment OEMs who have started making CES an annual part of their tradeshow circuit; besides John Deere, there are other major players including Caterpillar, Bobcat, New Holland Agriculture and several others exhibiting their advanced technologies.
5. Work Truck Show 2023: New Truck and Component Launches
Another major event which took place in the first part of 2023 was The Work Truck Show, an event which has grown over the years to become one of the events for the trucking industry. It has also grown to include more and more fluid power companies each year, which is not surprising as it is an important sector for the hydraulics and pneumatics industry.
This event covers a range of technology interests, including those geared toward making the trucking industry more sustainable.
6. The Current State of Battery Technology
Batteries are a key component within the electrification space, and the various chemistries available continues to expand. Research into new chemistries is happening to find options which are more sustainable as well as able to meet the power needs of various vehicles, including heavy-duty equipment.
The interaction between fluid power systems and batteries are an important one to ensure a fully optimized vehicle or machine, making it important information for those working with hydraulics and pneumatics to monitor.
8. Sodium vs. Lithium: Which is the Better Battery Type
This piece delves further into the potential of two battery chemistries, lithium and sodium. Lithium batteries are currently the most commonly used, but have their drawbacks.
Research into sodium for batteries has shown potential for a range of industries, and development efforts have increased in recent years to make this a feasible battery option.
9. Rockwell Acquisition of Clearpath Robotics Demonstrates Growth of Mobile Robots
In September, Rockwell Automation announced its plans to acquire Clearpath Robotics Inc., a developer of automated mobile robots (AMR). Doing so would increase the number of automation solutions Rockwell Automation could provide customers in the industrial space.
Use of AMR is increasing in manufacturing and a range of other industries to help overcome labor challenges and offer a means of improving efficiency within an operation as the robots can quickly and easily move materials, leaving human workers free to focus on other, more important matters. Rockwell Automation intends to bring its own expertise in developing technology for robots together with that of Clearpath Robotics to provide customers with various types of robotic options.
10. Bosch Rexroth Completes HydraForce Acquisition
Another major announcement at the begining of 2023 was that of Bosch Rexroth completing its acquisition of HydraForce. The companies initially signed an acquisition agreement in July 2022.
HydraForce is now part of Bosch Rexroth's Compact Hydraulics business, bringing with it expertise in developing both mechanical and electric cartridge valves as well as hydraulic integrated circuits. Meanwhile, HydraForce sees the benefit of being part of a company which values innovation as much as it does.