About us

The British Fluid Power Association incorporating the British Fluid Power Distributors Association

“Working for hydraulics, pneumatics and motion control”

Formed in 1959 as the Association of Hydraulic Equipment Manufacturers (AHEM) and later re-branded as the British Fluid Power Association, BFPA has since enjoyed an unbroken record of sustained growth both in stature and in the membership services that it offers. Now firmly established as one of the UK’s leading trade associations in the Engineering sector, and based at its wholly owned premises in Oxfordshire, it offers a comprehensive suite of services to its members, all of which are designed to either directly or indirectly, improve the business of UK companies in the Fluid Power sector.

(The term ‘fluid power’ is broad and is often misunderstood.  At its simplest it means power derived from ‘pushing’ either a liquid (Hydraulics) or a gas (Pneumatics), i.e. anything except a solid; through a closed system!  The most obvious and familiar example would be the hydraulic breaking system in a domestic vehicle.  Less well recognised applications are in any application requiring the movement of very high payloads such as the Thames barrier or crain jibs in the construction sector.)

The BFPA currently serves approximately 250 UK companies (as of 2015). Members come from both the manufacturing and distributor community.  The latter enjoys its own brand within the BFPA called the British Fluid Power Distributors Association (BFPDA) although both are run by the same Executive team.

BFPA members operate in almost every industrial sector from Construction through Off-shore, Agriculture, Mining, Power Generation, Food, and any industry that seeks to invoke some form of ‘motion control.’   To this extent, the Association has also established a new organisation called the Motion Control Alliance UKMCA and has partnered with the British Compressed Air Society; (BCAS), in doing so. This is a relatively recent initiative (February 2015), and seeks to engage other trade associations as it develops and encompasses the newer emerging forms of motion control technology such as electro-mechanical drives, mechatronics and wider automation.  Collectively the new alliance now represents the interests of over 400 UK companies.

Governance:-

The BFPA is run and managed on a day to day basis by a Director & CEO and the Executive team of six staff supported by a wide selection of technical consultants and committee members from the membership.

Strategic oversight is fulfilled by a Board of twenty three Directors (comprising member company representatives and two BFPA Executive Directors) plus two co-opted guests to the Board Meetings – specifically the Chair of the Education & Training Committee and the Chair of the Technical Committees. The Board is led by a President supported by the Vice President, the Immediate Past President, the Director & CEO of the Association, the BFPDA Council Chairman and the Company Secretary. The latter officers also make up the Finance Committee which oversees the financial health of the Association.

UKMCA logo

Our services include:-

1 - Membership

Membership of the BFPA gives you and your organisation access to a wide range of valuable services and a host of useful information. We are committed to education and our training is second to none.
By joining BFPA, you are increasing the profile of this vital UK industry while helping to raise standards and secure its future.

2 -Technical standards development and publications

One of the main aims of BFPA is to create, raise and maintain standards in the fluid power industry. Our technical committees play a key role in framing worldwide best practice through the development of national,European and international standards. We also offer a supporting range of publications.

Technical committees:

Our ten technical and standards development committees drive standards in the industry forward. These committees are made up of BFPA members who are experts in their particular field. They work tirelessly-and voluntarily-on behalf of all of our members, using their expertise and experience to benefit their industry.

Standards:

We hold the external secretariat on behalf of the British Standards Institution, the UK’s National Standards Body. This ensures that BFPA committees have an input into all fluid power standards,wherever in the world they are produced or published. In many cases we will have been instrumental in their development.

Structure:

Our committees are structured to mirror that of the International Standards Organisation.  They cover:

3 - Statistics

Knowledge is power. For over 30 years, our statistical surveys have provided our members with valuable insight into the key trends in the fluid power industry.

This service is exclusive to our members and is one of the most prized benefits of BFPA membership.

Members only:

We collect information from our members and produce a comprehensive range of separate surveys for hydraulics, pneumatics and fluid power distribution. It is all done on a completely confidential basis. The surveys are available to contributing members only and we do not publish them externally. This allows members to contribute freely. In return they get an accurate insight into their industry, and an unparalleled opportunity to find out how their business compares on a number of metrics.

Economic forecasts and updates:

Accurate and reliable economic forecasts are a key aid to successful business planning. We work with Oxford Economics, the world’s leading economic consultancy and forecaster, to produce an annual forecast for the UK fluid power industry.
Published each Autumn, it looks ahead to the next five years and includes studies of end-user sectors as well as up-to-date economic summaries for Europe and the rest of the world. Members who subscribe to this service also receive a monthly economic update.

Global information:

As a member of CETOP, the European Trade Federation for national fluid power associations, BFPA participates in the exchange of top-level information with other CETOP members. In turn,CETOP exchanges data with other countries. We offer BFPA members access to this global information about fluid power through the members- only pages of this website.

Official statistics:

BFPA works on behalf of the hydraulics and pneumatics industries to monitor,collate and keep a watching brief on all the official fluid power production and trade codes and output statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics and HM Revenue & Customs.

News:

Members receive a newsletter several times a year with the latest news about fluid power statistics.

4 - Training

Maintaining high standards through training and education is one of the key remits of the BFPA.
The BFPA has been producing courses in both hydraulics and pneumatics for over 20 years.The courses lead to formal qualifications in fluid power that are recognised by European body CETOP as industry standard.

About the courses:

All our courses have been devised and developed by the industry’s foremost engineers and trainers,and are regularly reviewed to ensure they remain in line with the developments and current practice.
They are relevant to a wide range of industries, including construction,marine,agriculture, offshore,renewable energy,rail and mining. Companies of all sizes and in many sectors choose to enrol their employees on BFPA courses to improve knowledge, skills and safety.

Qualifications:

Using a progressive awards structure,BFPA courses can lead to qualifications in:

  • Industrial Hydraulics & Control
  • Mobile Hydraulics
  • Power Pneumatics & Control

We offer modulised programmes in all of these topics, plus integrated Fluid Power Control Systems. These allow students to cover the courses in their own time, at a speed to suit them and their workplace.

Recognition:

Working with European industry body CETOP, BFPA has helped create a Europe- wide structure of qualifications and standards. This has ensured that our British qualifications are accepted and recognised by the industry in the UK and Europe. We assure quality via a network of BFPA- verified Approved Training Centres.

5 -Events

The BFPA holds a number of events throughout the year. The busy calendar reflects the activity of association and offers significant opportunities for members to meet others. Each event is a chance for members to network, learn and share news and advice with their industry peers and experts.

Steering committees:

The BFPA’s key steering committees meet regularly, typically four times a year. These include the BFPA board and the British Fluid Power Distributors’ Association (BFPDA) Council,the leading bodies for each association. There are also active and lively meetings of the technical,marketing,statistics and education and training steering committees. These are usually held three to four times a year, mainly at BFPA offices in Oxfordshire, but we often hold these meetings at our members’ premises too.

Exhibition and trade shows:

The BFPA has a regular presence at the industry’s major European trade shows. The Fluid Power and Systems Show is held in the UK every two years, alternating annually with Motion, Drive and Automation in Hanover, Germany. We take a stand at each of these two important showcases, enabling us to raise the profile of our Association and our members. Our stand becomes a centre point for discussion and news about the issues facing the industry and is a valuable meeting place and networking area for British and International representatives of our widespread industry.

We also attend other shows from time to time, and in recent years have been in attendance at similar large trade forums in China and India.

Economic Seminar:

This is open to all members and is held annually in the Autumn. The venue changes from year to year and is always at a location of interest to members. In the past few years it has been hosted by manufacturers and technology centres- recent venues have included Yamazaki Mazak, Jaguar Land Rover and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory. Speakers have come from Oxford Economics and end user industry or technology centres. Subjects covered include the UK and world economics, a five year fluid power forecast and trends in specific end use markets or new technologies affecting our industry.

Industry Dinner:

Also held in the Autumn, at a hotel or conference venue, this networking event features an expert speaker and a hot topic of the day.

Regional meetings:

Our programme of regional meetings around the UK is organised periodically throughout the year,offering members a chance to catch up with others in their region and hear a speaker on matters relevant to their area. Past topics have been health and safety, social media, the Machinery Directive, CE marking and R & D tax claims.

AGM:

The BFPA and BFPDA annual general meetings are held together each May. The venue varies each year in order to reach all regions of the country. As well as reviewing the progress of the Association, it is an opportunity to network, and features a guest speaker.

Annual dinner and ball:

Our regular dinner and ball is usually held in February at the Dorchester Hotel in London. The event holds a special place in the industry’s calendar and is an opportunity for around 400 people, including members, customers and other stakeholders to socialise with each other and enjoy a celebration of our industry’s achievements.

Networking:

Golf days are held in May, July and September, at a variety of golf clubs in the Midlands and are open to all players connected to the fluid power industry, including their guests and customers. These meetings provide an ideal opportunity for networking in a relaxed and sociable setting. Other corporate social events organised by the BFPA have included motorbike track days,karting sessions and clay pigeon shooting.

6 - Industry Representation

A key role of any trade association is to represent its members’ interests among government and statutory bodies.

As the voice of the hydraulic and pneumatic industries in the UK, the BFPA works hard to represent them at national, European and international level. We work with government, legislative bodies and other professional associations.

Purpose:

We make sure we are at the table when key issues are being discussed, so that our industry is neither overlooked nor taken-even inadvertently- in a direction that may be wrong for our members. As a billion pound industry at the heart of the UK’s manufacturing capability, we make our presence felt and emphasise our members’ positive contribution to the economy, to manufacturing and to commerce.

National Government:

BFPA regularly meets with a range of government departments, including the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Environment Agency and the Ministry of Defence, when matters pertinent to our industry are under discussion.

National Standards, safety and statistics bodies:

We hold the external secretariat on behalf of the BSI, the UK’s National Standards Body. This work is harmonised with the International Standards Organisation and ensures that the BFPA has an input into all fluid power standards, wherever in the world they are produced or published. In many cases we will have been instrumental in their development.

We also work with the Health and Safety Executive in formulating best practice guidelines for the fluid power industry and producing widely respected health and safety publications.

We aim to to ensure that hydraulic and pneumatic industries are represented in the official statistics, by working with the Office for National Statistics and Eurostat when necessary. This is important because governments formulate their policies in the light of the key industry data with the official statistics.

International:

We represent the UK fluid power industry on joint international industry forums such as the European fluid power organisation (CETOP). This gives our members access to unique global market data, promotes their products abroad and allows them to influence technical and commercial matters, for example EU directives and product code changes, which might affect their business.

Working with other trade associations and bodies:

No one organisation can successfully change the regulatory landscape on its own. BFPA  is a member of the CBI which campaigns for a competitive policy landscape on behalf of all UK businesses including manufacturing. We are also members of Engineering and Machinery Alliance (EAMA), an alliance of 14 trade associations in the engineering sector. All have many common regulatory issues and aspirations. Our joint experience of government policy- making, and our professional approach to engaging with the regulators at all levels, ensures that the government will take account of our views when determining relevant policy.

Influence:

BFPA,through its association with other bodies, has influenced the development of a number of regulatory processes set to have an impact on UK engineering firms. We have been active in issues affecting capital allowances, small business rate relief and property rates, improved access to finance, fuel duty, late payments, R& D tax credit and skills and training.

Recent achievements:

We secure the exclusion of waste hoses and associated PPE from the Hazardous Framework Directive,saving the industry and BFPA members an estimated £18 million a year. We helped to ensure a level playing field in Europe and secure our members interests through our input into trade codes.

BFPA lobbied via CETOP for the creation of fluid power industry classification headings in NACE, the statistical classification for European industries.

Media:

We liase regularly with the media, highlighting key industry issues which would impact our member companies and their businesses.

7 -Strategic Alliance Partnerships

A new dimension:

BFPA can now offer an additional service to its members. We have formed strategic partnerships with a number of organisations who can provide their own specialist advice and services to BFPA members.

How it came about:

Consulting with our members, we established they they would welcome access to a number of non-core services to help them with the running of their day to day business.

We identified providers of these services, ensuring they they met our high standards and offered genuine value for money. In return for their commitment to high standards of service, we agreed to promote them to our members.

How it works:

BFPA members have access to a reliable range of business support services without having to undertake time- consuming research of the market, while the service providers pay the BFPA a small referral fee for any business secured through our strategic partnership agreement. This fee is then returned to the members through the provision of other membership services. It’s a win-win situation, benefitting our members most of all.

Helping your business to succeed:

Many of the services have the potential to improve our members’ bottom line- for example, lean engineering, training and assistance with selling more products and services.
Others are less direct but are still vital components of running a success business and can reduce the day to day burden- for example, insurance services, legal advice or recruitment.

Current services include:

  • marketing communications
  • commercial insurance services
  • business sale, acquisition and exit planning support
  • 3D product modelling for online catalogues
  • lean engineering and business improvement consultancy
  • access to capital for funding growth
  • growth accelerator: facilitation, coaching and general business consultancy
  • legal services
  • foreign exchange services
  • R & D tax claims advice
  • export services, especially with India, China and Brazil