NFPA’s International Economic Outlook Conference has become an annual event every August for hundreds of us in the fluid power industry. As much as I enjoy learning and writing about fluid power technology every month, it’s always a welcome diversion to view our industry from a different perspective.
One interesting aspect is the world economy. For example, a few years ago Dr. Alan Beaulieu, president of ITR Economics, explained that many large U.S. companies have revenues that exceed the gross domestic product (GDP) of most countries in the world. Walmart would have the world’s 25th largest economy—bigger than Norway’s, and Exxon Mobil would rank 30th, just ahead of Thailand.
More recently, Beaulieu compared individual U.S. state economies to national economies. California’s economy is roughly equal to the GDP of France. New York is on par with Canada, Texas is comparable to Brazil, and Pennsylvania can hold its own with Switzerland. And with all the riches Saudi Arabia enjoys from oil, its GNP is about the same as that of my home state, Ohio.
But that’s some of the fun stuff. The tone became more somber when examining industries tied directly to fluid power. Construction equipment is probably the single largest segment. Construction has been undergoing some modest growth, and it is expected to continue—and maybe improve—over the coming year.
Industrial production has also been okay, and several narrow sectors have even done pretty well. Mining, on the other hand, has logged some pretty low numbers of late—and it’s not expected to show any significant improvement within the coming months.
But rather than dwell on mining’s low numbers, let’s celebrate the coming of MINExpo in 2016. Las Vegas hosts this event only once every four years, so if you don’t embrace it now, you won’t get another chance for a while. As our exhibitor list shows in the article beginning on page 29, more than 70 companies will be promoting their fluid power products and services at this year’s MINExpo.
Most of the exhibits, however, will display mining equipment. We’ve published multiple articles from contacts made at MINExpo. So you can not only see lots of fluid power components, but also examine some pretty interesting and innovative designs. And while you’re at it, marvel at the sheer size of some of this equipment.
And who knows, when the next MINExpo rolls around, in 2020, the mining industry might be posting record numbers.