In the latest newsletter from the British Fluid Power Association, BFPA reported on meetings with GAMBICA, the national organization representing the interests of companies in the instrumentation, control, automation, and laboratory technology industry in the UK. The diverse nature of the industry is reflected in the five industry sectors represented by the association.
The BFPA was invited to speak to GAMBICA's Technical and Safety Group, not with any pre-planned agenda but simply to explore areas of common interest. Around the table there were representatives from Balluff, Euchner, IFM, OEM Automatic, Omron, Pepperl + Fuchs, Pilz, Rechner, Rockwell Automation, Schmersal, Schneider Electric, SICK, Siemens, Turck Banner, and Wieland. Some are already work with the fluid power industry, while others were interested to find out more about our industry.
However all was not smooth going, and fluid power was criticized for a lack of knowledge in two main areas.
First, a lack of knowledge of many of the procedural requirements for safety analysis techniques was cited. As an example, one of the companies was trying to find some data on mean time before failure, and the fluid power company was either unable or unwilling to provide the required figures.
Second, GAMBICA representatives felt that the fluid power industry had a very low level of understanding of complex control systems that were interfacing with fluid power systems. BFPA did tell them that good quality electrohydraulic courses are available, but they were reporting the facts as they experienced them.
We are clearly in a time where technicians need to be updated on a regular basis just to keep up with the basic changes in the electronics/computing world, and it is the responsibility of the company to ensure that employees are equipped for the tasks that the employer sets. Should an employer ask an employee to do a job for which that person is inadequately equipped, and that includes having done monitored training, then that employer could be putting itself in line for a costly court case! However, there was clearly a desire from GAMBICA to work with the BFPA.
Here is a link to the original report:
Alan L. Hitchcox
Editor, Hydraulics & Pneumatics
Mean time between failure for mechanical devices depends a lot on the environment in which it is used. This would be a tough number to determine. However, I do agree that the hydraulic equipment and parts manufacturers make it almost impossible to really design a hydraulic system without first testing all the components like Caterpillar and other big companies do. The rest of us don't get accurate specifications that mean anything because there is often a big difference between the data sheets and the real parts. It would be nice to know the hydraulic capacitance of hose for unit of length. It would be nice to know the hydraulic resistance of hose per unit of length. This information simply isn't available.
We understand complex hydraulic control systems since we make them. We have competitors that should understand complex hydraulic control systems.
I am not impressed with the IFPS course for electronic control specialist.
1. It reeks of big company marketing influence. I didn't like our product being undefined as a hydraulic motion controller in the IFPS book. I withdrew our support after that. I won't trust them again.
2. Much of the information information simply isn't practical because the manufacturers do not provide information for the formulas or the books don't tell you why it is important and how to use what you have just learned.
For example, the IFPS book spends a few pages talking about velocity constants. What a waste. None of those parameters have to do with force and mass. Newtons second law is ignored.
3. I cringe when I see examples of using counter balance valves in a servo system.
4. Students are taught about how to make steady state calculations not dynamic ones. Motion control requires being able to calculate how an actuator will accelerate.
I can go on.
Most students can't do the math, calculus or differential equations.
Who teaches the teachers?This message has been edited. Last edited by: Peter Nachtwey,
"Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.." John Lennon, Strawberry Fields.
Peter, I must agree that the current state of fluid power education is not "user friendly". Most field service technicians,(certified) have very little field experience and no "common sense" to back up any of their findings......at one time I had wished I had a formal fluid power education.I'm thankful today, my (self taught)interest in fluid power grows everyday.....I always tell the newbies: you have to see in your mind without seeing how the system works....Brett
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