Remembering the Henry Ford of Fluid Power

Remembering the Henry Ford of Fluid Power

It’s graduation time, and all across America, dignitaries are giving speeches telling graduates to make a difference and change the world. Changing the world might be a bit overly ambitious, but each of us can certainly make a difference in our part of the world.

Courtesy International Fluid Power Society.

Someone who made a difference in the fluid power world was Ray Hanley. I refer to him in the past tense because Ray died May 30, what many still consider the “real” Memorial Day, originally Decoration Day. Ray was a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, and although his death on May 30 was merely a coincidence, it seems rather fitting.

Like many from America’s Greatest Generation, Ray was an ambitious young man upon his Honorable Discharge from the Navy. More than 20 years ago,  he told me how he got started in fluid power technology shortly after his discharge. He worked on oil field equipment in the Pittsburgh area and became responsible for hydraulics when his predecessor took on another position. Ray was appointed the “hydraulics expert” mainly because he had done “a little work in pneumatics,” in his words. He may have been reluctant to accept such a sink-or-swim proposition, especially because he viewed his position at the time as sort of an interim job, rather than a career. But with thousands of returning soldiers and sailors looking for work, he figured he’d better seize the opportunity—at least until something better came along.

After awhile, though, Ray developed a strong interest in fluid power—or, as he put it, “got hooked.” He was active in fluid power ever since, and I’d consider him the Henry Ford of Fluid Power Certification. Henry Ford didn’t invent cars or the assembly line, but he brought the two together, and the mass production of cars has grown and evolved ever since. The same goes for Ray Hanley and fluid power certification.

Ray Hanley didn’t invent fluid power certification, but he and others saw the need to establish and measure a minimum level of competency not only in fluid power knowledge, but communication, technique, and procedure. Once Ray realized the benefits that certification would provide, he made it his personal mission to see that certification grew into every facet of fluid power technology. As a result, the International Fluid Power Society (IFPS) today offers certification for mechanics, technicians, engineers, system designers, and instructors, with others in the works.

Ray could look back at these accomplishments with pride, but he would’ve been the first to tell you that the success of IFPS Certification couldn’t have happened without an enormous amount of hard work from many others. Instead, I think he would’ve pointed to his eight children and many grandchildren as his way of making a difference in the world.

Click here to view our obituary about Ray Hanley or click here to view his personal obituary and leave a comment.

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