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Q&A: Updates in Hydraulics Drive 'Technology of Choice'

Modern day demands have called for - and brought - technological enhancements.

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Motion Repair & Services

Hydraulic equipment has long held a place in the industrial workplace, but modern day demands have called for - and brought - technological enhancements.

Longtime supplier and repair specialist, Motion brings a unique perspective on hydraulic equipment – especially considering its recent acquisition of two businesses focused on this vertical. We recently spoke with Ed Van Hell, Vice President – Group Executive of Motion Repair & Services, to learn more about the company’s hydraulics strategy, as well as what its customers require.

With 30 years of industry experience, Ed is responsible for leading, developing and managing the company’s repair and service business across North America.

IEN: Motion’s acquisitions of Perfetto Manufacturing and SER Hydraulics closed at the end of February. How does this strategy tie in with Motion’s goals and the direction of hydraulics in general?

EV: Acquisitions continue to be a key element of Motion’s growth strategy. SER Hydraulics and Perfetto Manufacturing checked all the boxes we look for in a potential acquisition: strategic alignment, cultural and talent fit, and immediate accretion to our business. Our vision is to maintain our place as our customers’ premier industrial solutions provider. Investing in businesses that provide hydraulics and fluid power is multidimensional.

Not only is there an opportunity to provide a broader range of products, but as SER and Perfetto demonstrate, an opportunity to engage in related repair services, field support and design/build/install/commission of complex turnkey systems. Hydraulics continues to be the technology of choice for many industries and applications. As a result, Motion intends to continue investing in this area. 

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IEN: What benefits do you see for customers from this expansion?

EV: Before the acquisitions, Motion’s presence in the markets that SER and Perfetto serve was limited. Adding these businesses expands our footprint in one of the largest mining communities in Canada. Existing SER and Perfetto customers will benefit from local infrastructure where they can access the full breadth of Motion’s products and services. Existing Motion customers will benefit from the exceptional talent and expertise of the SER and Perfetto teams. The combined entities will offer unparalleled local capabilities and support.

IEN: Can you elaborate a bit about hydraulic trends in the industrial landscape?

EV: Advances in electrification may suggest that the use of hydraulics is in decline, with obsolescence an eventuality. While this is proving out in some applications, particularly for plant floor stationary applications, mobile equipment is different. Hydraulics continues to have a significant advantage in terms of power density.

Industries such as mining, forestry, construction, agriculture, material handling and aerospace rely on technologies that maximize power delivery while minimizing space requirements. Surging construction activity due to government stimulus and the increasing need for metals consumed by EV manufacturers are good examples of industry trendsdriving growth in hydraulics. 

IEN: Is the outlook any different in Canada compared to the U.S., as Motion’s newest acquisitions are based in eastern Canada?

EV: Regarding hydraulics, we view Canada and the U.S. very similarly. The industry trends driving potential growth in hydraulics are consistent in both countries. Where we may see differentiation is in local markets. Sudbury, Ontario, where SER and Perfetto are located, is a good example. The Sudbury economy is driven by natural resources. Key customers in this geography are mining nickel, copper, silver, platinum, cobalt and gold. Also, many companies are engaged in developing and building mining equipment—some of which are global in scale.

Recent announcements from Stellantis and Volkswagen to invest in world-scale EV battery manufacturing facilities in Ontario indicate what is in store for mining and its support businesses in Sudbury. As a result, we are very bullish on this acquisition and the growth prospects for Motion and our customers in this region. 

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IEN: How are the options changing regarding technology?

EV: Hydraulic technology is rapidly evolving. Integrating digital technologies with hydraulics is significantly impacting the industry. Integrating sensors, IoT, and data analytics improves performance, reliability, and predictive and preventive maintenance. All of these things drive improved productivity and cost savings for end users. For solution providers such as Motion, the lines are becoming increasingly blurred between the hydraulics, controls and automation disciplines.

Customers find it increasingly difficult to find sole-source providers offering bundled solutions across all disciplines. In response, Motion continues to invest in our North American network of Repair & Services shops, complemented by multidisciplined engineering and specialist teams. We are well-positioned to deliver the integrated turnkey solutions our customers need. 

IEN: What are Motion’s customers looking for regarding hydraulic solutions, now and planning for the short- and longer-term future?

EV: Our customers are looking to Motion for many things: supply chain stability, diversity in our product offering, communication of the latest technology trends, technical and engineering support, and skilled technicians who can repair components, assemble systems, and provide site installation and commissioning support. Rapidly changing technology combined with a skills shortage  magnifies the need for enhanced customer support.

Motion continues to work internally and with our manufacturer partners to address customer needs. Ongoing investments in growing our product and service portfolio, both organically and through acquisitions, will continue to position Motion as the preferred hydraulic solutions provider.

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Ed Van HellEd Van HellMotion Repair & Services

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