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IndustryNet Blog

Key growth trends in the U.S. industrial hydraulics sector

Posted by IndustryNet on Wednesday, February 20, 2019

100000343_aircraft_hydraulicsIndustrial hydraulics are heavily used in construction and manufacturing, enabling massive cranes, excavators, precision machines and automated systems to function with often just one operator.

As a result of this, the health of the industrial hydraulic industry is closely tied to the health of these other industries.

Industry overview

Used in hundreds of different sectors, industrial hydraulics enable work to be accomplished at an exponential rate.

Widespread use resulted in the industrial hydraulics industry commanding nearly $24 billion of the U.S. economy.

The recent reshoring movement that revitalized American manufacturing also graced this sector. As manufacturers shifted strategies to avoid the tariffs imposed on imported Chinese goods, industrial hydraulics companies took advantage.

Sales increased by 1.45 percent over the previous year and 1,181 jobs were added, for an increase of 2.2 percent over the same interval. Domestic distribution remains slightly lower than other sectors at 70 percent, but this may change in the coming year as adjustments to tariffs become stabilized.

New uses for industrial hydraulics

Advances in technology have also assisted in the growth of the industry. Now on the rise in many factories and warehouses, robots and cobots have opened up an entirely new market for industrial hydraulics that control their motion.

In entertainment, robots designed to mimic human movements also utilize hydraulics to fine-tune their actions. Self-driving vehicles use hydraulics to control steering and avoid accidents.

Students at the University of Akron modified the hydraulic steering system on a boat to accept control inputs from a computer in order to test autonomous operations.

Eliminating the steering cable removed a potential failure source and reaction time is faster than that of a human. Just these two segments alone open up thousands of new applications for hydraulics and their related accessories.

New technology in hydraulics

Digital integration with hydraulics has enabled very precise control of given operations. Compared with analog controllers, digital controllers can command movements measured in fractions of a degree and with minimal energy use.

Digital technology has also enabled active diagnostic systems such as hose integrity systems. Through integrated wiring and sensors, operators can monitor hoses for impending failures and enact repairs before damage or disruption occurs.

Company distribution

With 1,656 companies identified in the industry nationwide, the geographic distribution is fairly similar to other industrial sectors.

By a slight margin, the majority are located in the Midwest, with 37 percent of companies located here.Tie_rod_cylinder_from_Georgia_Hydraulics

Trailing close behind is the South, with 33 percent of the total. The West is home to nearly 17.5 percent with the remaining 12.5 percent residing in the Northeast.

Five largest industrial hydraulic companies

Three industrial hydraulic companies have 1,000 employees or greater. Greater than 90 percent are privately owned, with the remainder obviously being public firms.

No companies reported a drop in sales and 2 percent reported sales growth.

Below is a brief review of the five largest industrial hydraulic companies currently in the United States.

Danfoss Power Solutions, Inc.

Starting in a small farmhouse in Denmark back in 1933, Danfoss has grown into a massive international supplier of innovative solutions. With a domestic headquarter located in Ames, Iowa, they supply hydraulic components and parts to various industries.

Some of their custom technology includes electrohydraulic steering components, agricultural steering systems and steer by wire solutions. Around 1,300 people work at this particular location.

HydraForce, Inc.

Located in Lincolnshire, Illinois, this company came to life in 1985 with the vision to produce the highest quality hydraulic cartridges and manifolds. Today they hold 13 patents and multiple ISO certifications as they lead the world in cartridge manufacturing.

Part of their efficiency stems from the use of what they term "group technology," or a modular design approach that allows dozens of unique configurations with minimal re-engineering costs. With an eye to open architecture, HydraForce offers free hydraulic system design software to enable customers to test solutions before ordering hardware.

See their custom hydraulic manifold, pictured below.


Graco, Inc.

Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Graco Inc. is an industry leader in fluid transfer and management. Starting in 1926 as a result of an invention by founding brother Russell Gray, Graco soon became known as lubrication equipment specialists.

With a history of innovation and investing in new ideas, Graco exceeded $1 billion in revenue for the first time in 2012. Today revenues are in excess of $1.5 billion, and thousands of customers are served in over 100 different countries.

Over 80 percent of its manufacturing capabilities are domestically located with 1,000 people working at the Minneapolis location alone.

Eaton Corp., Fluid Power Division

A major component of Eaton Corp.'s power management solutions is hydraulics. In Van Wert, Ohio, resides their Fluid Power Division. This segment of the company manufactures hydraulic hoses, couplings and fittings that are used in all manner of industrial and heavy hydraulics.

In addition to mining, forestry, material handling, molding, machine tools, power generation and transportation as primary markets, automotive racing is a significant part of their product line. This location is home to their Aeroquip racing performance hose line.

Race car owners and drivers can show up and have custom pieces fabricated and tested while they wait.

Bosch Rexroth Corp.

Part of the international engineering giant Bosch, the facility in Fountain Inn, South Carolina will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. As the company's largest hydraulics manufacturing facility in the United States, it sprawls over a 100-acre campus and employs 780 people.

Not just manufacturing, but assembly takes place inside the 510,000 square foot main building. Specializing in hydraulic pumps and hydraulic vane motors, this branch of the company also supports full scale research and development, engineering and apprentice training.

Top 10 U.S. industrial hydraulics companies

Danfoss Power Solutions, Inc.1,300AmesIA
HydraForce, Inc.1,100LincolnshireIL
Graco, Inc.1,000MinneapolisMN
Eaton Corp., Fluid Power Div.850Van WertOH
Bosch Rexroth Corp.780Fountain InnSC
Gates Corp.750IolaKS
Sun Hydraulics Corp.700SarasotaFL
Eaton Corp.656JacksonMI
Actuant Corp.650Menomonee FallsWI
Rosenboom Machine & Tool, Inc.630SheldonIA

Finding industrial hydraulic suppliers

Industrial hydraulics are poised to continue growing as other industries experience increased economic health. IndustryNet lists every industrial hydraulic manufacturer in the United States, as well as the nation's 400,000 manufacturers and suppliers of more than 10,000 products and services.

Visitors can set up a free user account, build custom lists of potential suppliers, send quote requests, download catalogs, view company photo and video libraries, and more.

IndustryNet is also a direct path for U.S manufacturers to increase their visibility among domestic industrial procurers.


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