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Eaton Innovates Hydraulics, the Hidden Technology

April 21, 2015
Manufacturing has grown more sophisticated, and "hydraulics plays an important role," says Astrid Mozes.

Astrid Mozes describes hydraulics as the "hidden technology."

While you don't really see it, says the chief technology officer for the hydraulics group at Eaton Corp., hydraulics helps construction and agricultural equipment lift and move heavy loads from point A to point B. It positions work tools, punches holes and provides air conditioning on heavy equipment. It plays an important role in renewable energies, from pitch control on a windmill to moving solar platforms that follow the track of the sun.

And that's the short list of hydraulics applications.

It seems a ripe terrain of opportunity for engineers, and Mozes certainly qualifies. Educated in Sweden at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, she holds a master's degree in mechanical engineering and machine design. Since joining Eaton in 1990, she has held multiple roles within the organization, including president, hydraulics EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa).

Earlier this year Mozes was among the recipients of the Manufacturing Institute's Women in Manufacturing STEP Ahead Awards. These awards honor women at all levels in manufacturing who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers.  

The Eaton CTO says her interest in engineering is a long-standing one.

"I wanted to be an engineer from a very early age. I like to understand how things work and I like the technical space. I had good mentors in high school and college, I liked math quite a bit, and that was the route I chose," she says.

It was not a route she saw many women choosing when she began engineering studies more than 20 years ago.

The real big message is to innovate products and technologies to keep us moving forward."

"We were definitely in the minority. I studied in Stockholm at the Royal Institute of Technology, and there were only two women in my class, including myself," Mozes says.

Moreover, she adds, "There have been instances in my early career when you felt as a women a little more tested than a male colleague. But things have changed, and once you earn the credibility people look past that."

What also has changed is manufacturing itself, Mozes says. Quite simply, it's more sophisticated.

"I think industry needs to promote the capabilities in manufacturing and all the advances in technology. Oftentimes, when people hear manufacturing they think it’s the old way of cutting steel or the old way of testing material, but the manufacturing space has changed dramatically. Some of the sites that I have had the privilege to walk through, they're very advanced in technology,” she says.

Likewise, climb into the cab of today's construction or agricultural machine, and it's impossible to overlook the push buttons and electronic interfaces. "And hydraulics plays an important role," Mozes adds.

The Innovation Message

As CTO of the hydraulics group, Mozes' focus is on delivering innovation. "The real big message is to innovate products and technologies to keep us moving forward.  Essentially what that means is we focus our innovation on efficiency improvements, on bringing more intelligence into the components, on providing subsystems and solutions in a more reliable way, and finally, [delivering] more power density in the packaging," she says.

There's yet another layer to the innovation -- and that is meeting customers' current needs, their latent needs (which are not yet clearly articulated) and their future needs, which don't yet exist.

"We know they will appear with great probability in the future, and that is what I describe as 'new to the world' innovation. In that specific area, you have the ability to teach what is possible with your technology."

About the Author

Jill Jusko

Bio: Jill Jusko is executive editor for IndustryWeek. She has been writing about manufacturing operations leadership for more than 20 years. Her coverage spotlights companies that are in pursuit of world-class results in quality, productivity, cost and other benchmarks by implementing the latest continuous improvement and lean/Six-Sigma strategies. Jill also coordinates IndustryWeek’s Best Plants Awards Program, which annually salutes the leading manufacturing facilities in North America.

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