Over my 20-plus years covering the fluid power industry, I’ve been to a lot of this industry’s trade shows—including EIGHT IFPEs—talk about feeling old! I have been to shows all over the United States, as well as the U.K., Germany, Brazil, and Canada. So, I was very interested to see my first show in Japan, one of the world’s leading countries in fluid power innovation. IFPEX, held every three years, is perhaps one of the most important fluid power shows in Asia, and is being held at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center (also known as Tokyo Big Sight) this week, from the 13th through the 15th. Here are a handful of thoughts from my experience.
- There were familiar faces here. It was a pleasant surprise to see representatives from companies that I know well in the U.S. market. Seeing HYDAC, SMC Corp., Faster, Moog, WIKA, Yuken, and others here gave me a nice touchpoint to the industry I’ve long covered.
- It was amazing to me to be introduced to companies with broad product lines that I hadn’t been familiar with—or companies where I hadn’t realized their size and breadth. For example, I was impressed with the large Pisco booth. The Minamiminowa-based company had a plethora of pneumatic products, such as pressure sensors, vacuum accessories, rotary joints, and valves. Or the Taiwan-based Winner Hydraulics featured both industrial and mobile hydraulic components, including screw-in cartridge valves, manifolds and power packs.
- Robotics is big here. But hey, would you expect any different from Japan? Plenty of companies had interactive robots at their booths, while many others used robotic arms to demonstrate everything from actuators and valves to grippers.
- Miniaturization is in. Companies like Koganei are leading the way in creating smaller and smaller pneumatic products—such as valves that boast thin profiles, compact sizes, and lower power consumption, for use in industries as varied as aerospace and in vitro diagnostic devices. Check out Wayne Rickiby, General Manager for Montreal-based Cowper, one of Koganei’s distributors, as he describes some of the company’s latest work in IO-link compatible products.