SIC 3593

This classification covers establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders and actuators for use in fluid power systems.

NAICS Code(s)

333995 (Fluid Power and Actuator Manufacturing)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's Statistics of U.S. Businesses, 303 establishments operated in this category for some or all of 2001, a decrease from previous years. Industry-wide employment totaled 22,908 workers receiving a payroll of more than $1 billion. Overall shipments for the industry were valued at almost $3.4 billion.

Companies in the fluid power cylinders and actuators industry manufacture hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders used in various devices, such as jacks, lifters, and machine tools. These devices are used to exert massive amounts of force in a controlled manner. One of the simplest machines that uses a fluid power cylinder is the hydraulic press, which is used to press plastics into forms. Important markets for this industry included the aerospace and defense industries.

The three primary types of modern hydraulic cylinders are single-acting, double-acting, and differential. Single-acting devices consist of a large plunger, or piston, into which oil (or air in a pneumatic cylinder) is pumped. A valve keeps the oil from backing up into the pump and allows a controlled release of the pressure. Double-acting cylinders work similarly, but oil is pushed against one side of the cylinder, thus allowing a push or pull motion; these cylinders are used in construction machinery such as cranes and earth-moving machines. A differential cylinder has a large piston that requires a greater amount of oil to displace the cylinder, thus allowing greater uniformity of force than a typical single-acting cylinder.

Although hydraulic pumps for powering hydraulic cylinders were developed in the 19th century, it was not until the twentieth century that fluid power devices became a widespread means of energy transmission. By 1987, the first year in which this industry was classified separately by the federal government, fluid power cylinder manufacturers were generating sales of about $1.9 billion. Although receipts rose to more than $2.2 billion by 1989, a recession in the late 1980s and early 1990s reduced demand from industrial sectors such that sales slipped below $2 billion annually during the early 1990s.

Industry participants in the mid-1990s benefited from a gradual U.S. economic recovery. The total value of product shipments in the industry was $2.56 billion in 1995, up 42 percent from 1992. Although growth was flat in the aerospace industry in the early 1990s, there was steady recovery for this market through the end of the decade. However, continued slack demand from the defense industry and a slumping commercial airline industry boded poorly for overall industry growth. As domestic market growth was uncertain, manufacturers were looking to exports and advanced technology to boost sales. From 1998 to 2003, industry leader Curtiss-Wright reported that the majority of its revenues was due to sales to the military defense, power generation, and commercial aerospace sectors.

The industry leader for 2001 was Cleveland-based Parker Hannifin Corp., with sales of $6.1 billion. Soon after the turn of the millennium, the United States Navy supported second place company Curtiss-Wright Corp. of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, with a contract to manufacture shuttle assemblies. These new assemblies were needed to replace worn ones in aircraft catapult propulsion systems mounted aboard all naval aircraft carriers. Curtiss-Wright posted 2001 revenues of $343 million. At the close of 2003, Curtiss-Wright acquired several companies that catered to aerospace markets. That year, the company posted revenues of more than $746 million. In third place was Parker Aerospace of Irvine, California, with $107 million in sales.

Further Reading

Baker, Deborah J., ed. Ward's Business Directory of US Private and Public Companies. Detroit, MI: Thomson Gale, 2003.

"Curtiss-Wright Chairman and CEO Interview." The America's Intelligence Wire, 12 December 2003.

"Curtiss-Wright Initiates Buying Binge." Private Placement Letter, 15 December 2003.

"Curtiss-Wright Receives Contracts to Supply Key Components for the United States Navy." PR Newswire, 20 January 2000.

Hoover's Company Fact Sheet. "Curtiss-Wright Corporation." 2 March 2004. Available from .

——. "Parker Hannifin Corp." 6 March 2004. Available from .

Infotrac Company Profiles. 17 February 2000. Available from .

U.S. Census Bureau. 1997 Economic Census, 17 February 2000. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1999. Available from .

——. Statistics of U.S. Businesses: 2001. 1 March 2004. Available from .

U.S. Department of Commerce. Annual Survey of Manufactures. Washington: GPO, 2002.

U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economic and Employment Projections. 11 February 2004. Available from .

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