The Global Fluid Power Society (GFPS) was created in 2016 as a merge of two long-lasting organizations: Fluid Power Net International (FPNI) and the Network of Fluid Power Centres of Europe (FPCE). The main goal of this merge was to form a unique entity independent of a continent, which could inherit the spirit and the experience of both FPNI and FPCE, and that will be recognized as the main reference for the international fluid power community including academia and industry. The merge, highly desired by the Board of FPNI and of FPCE, was initially discussed in 2015, and finally ratified during a meeting in occasion of the 10th International Fluid Power Conference - IFK - in Dresden in March of 2016. The meeting was attended by about 20 fluid power institutes who unanimously voted for the merge and for the new name of the organization. Five provisional directors were also voted to guide the transition from FPNI-FPCE to GFPS:
- Hubertus Murrenhoff (IFAS, Germany) – chair
- Andrea Vacca (Purdue University, USA)
- Andrew Plummer (University of Bath, UK)
- Monika Ivantysynova (Purdue University, USA)
- Songjing Li (Harbin IT, China)
In the following paragraphs, a brief history about the two organizations that preceded GFPS is provided.
Fluid Power Net International
Fluid Power Net International was formed in 1998 with the objective of providing the infrastructure to build an international network of researchers and facilities to carry out major projects, and to:
- Promote international research cooperation in the field of fluid power technology and related areas,
- Provide information about worldwide research and industrial activities in the field of fluid power technology and related areas,
- Promote engineering education in the field of fluid power technology and related fields.
- Fluid Power Net International was a joint initiative of:
- Fluidteknikk, Institutt for Termisk Energi og Vannkraft (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway)
- Institute of Heavy Duty Machines (Cracow University of Technology, Poland)
- Department of Control and Engineering Design (Technical University of Denmark)
- Subsea Engineering Research Group, Department of Mechanical Engineering (Monash University, Australia)
In the FPNI Forums Cracow, Poland (1998 and 2000), Ferrara, Italy (2002), and Bad Ischl, Austria (2004) and in different members meetings initiatives have been discussed and launched to establish and foster and international scientific community in fluid power. Concrete outcomes have been
- The publication of the International Journal of Fluid Power
- Since 2000, biannual PhD Symposia
- Several Conferences on Modelling and Simulation in Fluid power
In 2004 it was decided to adapt the objectives and the organization of FPNI to emphasize the scientific networking rather than to be a virtual laboratory for carrying out major research projects. In a members meeting at the 4th PhD Symposium, Sarasota Florida, June 2006, new statutes have been decided and a new Board has been elected.
In 2012 it was decided to give an official form to FPNI as Non-Profit Organization which promotes an engineering field. FLUID POWER NET INTERNATIONAL Inc. was established in the United States to permit an easy management of all FPNI functions, including handling participation fees, expenses and donations.
The skeleton of the non-profit organization used for FPNI was adopted for GFPS, which is nowadays a registered non-profit and tax exempt organization registered in Indiana, USA.
Fluid Power Centres of Europe
After World War II the research activities in fluid power were concentrated at MIT in Boston, US and the names of Blackburn, Reethof and Shearer stand for the civilian projects that brought basic understanding of the subject to academia and industry. At that time companies like Moog, HR Textron and Parker next to many others were founded and are successful till today in fluid power technology worldwide.
In 1968 the Institute for Hydraulic and Pneumatic Drives and Controls (IHP) at RWTH Aachen University was founded and a strong Center under the leadership of the recently deceased Prof. Wolfgang Backé (7-21-2016) evolved. In 1974 the first AFK (Aachen Fluid Power Conference) started and with it the international visibility of the creation of broad fluid power research and teaching in Germany. At that time huge growth rates in production technology, mechanical engineering and the necessary drive technologies were common. The fluid power branch needed the higher educated engineers for sustainable growth in fluid power. This was satisfied by the graduates and it became more and more known as a success story. Thus additional Centers were founded in Europe e.g. in Bath, UK in Linköping, Sweden and Tampere, Finland, Braunschweig, Karlsruhe, Hamburg and Munich, Germany as well as in South Europe next to the activities in Eastern Europe before the fall of the iron curtain. Many international conferences were established in cooperation with the Centers as they evolved. After the fall of the great wall everything changed rapidly. So a Center in Dresden with the IFD was founded which was the cooperative birth of the IFK, the International Fluid Power Conference which had its 10th anniversary in 2016 in Dresden.
Meanwhile many Centers were established that dealt with research and development in the field of fluid power and the Scandinavian conferences, SCIFP, Bath FPMC workshop and the IFK in Germany, just to name a few, needed coordination between the Centers with regard to scheduling and the determination of subjects. For that reason a strong alliance has been built between the Centers. Lots of cooperation evolved with regard to student exchanges and regular meetings at the conferences. At the end of the 20th century the increased networking, the political ambitions of the EU and the upcoming massive use of the internet was the starting point to officially create a Network of Fluid Power Centers in Europe (FPCE) to highlight to the fluid power community and the whole branch what was already successfully practiced for a long time.
Thus a network was established in form of an informal association to extend the collaboration between the Centers regarding research activities, conduct common EU-projects and to provide interested parties from academia, industry, government and media with information about their facilities and capabilities. The association helped to enable easy access to partners for collaborative projects and provided information about the expertise in the field of fluid power technology.
Tasks of the Network of Fluid Power Centers in Europe included:
- Scheduling of international conferences in the field of fluid power
- Exchange of students and researchers
- Provision of easy access to advice and information through the internet and the network of contacts
- Continuous updating of home pages by each Center
In 2016 FPCE comprised of 14 centers in Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Meetings were held regularly during the international conferences. With a continuously changing world, the establishment of new institutions in the field of fluid power internationally and inspired by common meetings with the FPNI it was decided to increase the horizon to the Americas and Asia and form a new society, the birth of GFPS.