16 July, 2019

Special 21st Anniversary Report - Eventful journey

12 December, 2017

This issue of Hydraulics & Pneumatics marks its 21st anniversary. To celebrate this milestone, a number of prominent spokespeople within the fluid power and wider motion control sectors consider some of the key technological, political and legislative changes that have come to pass over the past two decades.

The fluid power and related equipment and systems industry is in a state of constant development; adapting to the needs of the end user and OEM, as well as keeping up with legislative changes concerning areas such as environmental responsibility and health & safety. Since its inception back in 1996, Hydraulics & Pneumatics magazine’s core brief has always been to report on and reflect these changes, and this has never been more so now that the fluid power industry is increasingly playing a major part within the wider and fast-evolving motion control and robotics sphere. To celebrate the journal’s eventful journey over the years, we invited key figures from our industry to offer their views on key areas of development over the past two decades or so.

In the beginning

However, to kick-off the proceedings, Bob Dobson, the journal’s launch editor, briefly takes us back to the time leading up to the launch of this long-serving publication: “I felt like a great she-elephant at the launch of Hydraulics & Pneumatics in 1996 – the gestation period was that long. We had had the idea for the magazine several years earlier, but could never get enough time together to develop a proper business plan and put the necessary wheels into motion.

“My colleagues and I were actually on the point of launching another magazine to complement our existing title Drives & Controls in about 1990, and fluid power, hydraulics and pneumatics, seemed like the best field to address. At this time the economy had turned very sour after the oh-so brief Thatcherite boom and the engineering industries were looking very sad. Most publishers were pulling in their horns, but we took the view that a low-key launch and tight financial management would put us in pole position for when the economy picked up again.

“But then a big-time publisher addressed the financial situation in a very dramatic way. Robert Maxwell disembarked from the back of his luxury yacht in mid-Atlantic. This affected us because one very small corner of his business empire was an exhibition called Drives Motors & Controls (DMC). We had worked in close co-operation with this show for the best part of ten years, and when its closure was announced we had some serious and immediate thinking to do.

Learning curve

“With DMC gone, we had no choice but to launch our own show, Drives & Controls, to protect our market from competitors. We knew nothing about running exhibitions, but it was sink or swim for us – and there were plenty of sharks circling. Almost unbelievably, the show was a rip-roaring success from Day One and we found ourselves on a rollercoaster learning curve that didn’t slow down for about five years as the show grew and grew.

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