ONS: Hydraulics over the Internet

Automation engineer Aksel Fossbakken has, together with his colleagues Tommy Skibelid and Håkon Strømme, formed the company Fluid Power Control AS (FPC) for calculation of hydraulic and pneumatic systems. The three of then are spread about, one at Røyken outside Oslo and one at Lillesand near Kristiansand, while Fossbakken himself is in Stavanger. They work together via the Internet in a so-called virtual company. “This functions just fine. Telephone and e-mail give us great freedom to serve customers nationwide regardless of where we’re sitting”, says Fossbakken, who is general manager and so far sole proprietor.

Increasing needs

The trend is towards ever more advanced systems for management and control of equipment on board oil installations. Many people are talking of an IT revolution, but if the advanced electronics and computer boxes had nothing to manage, they wouldn’t be worth much. In many areas, big hydraulic systems carry out orders from operators and computers. The new company is a typical exponent of specialists within a limited field who seize the opportunities offered by big hydraulic systems. “I think that offshore will be our main market for many years to come. FPC will develop calculation tools for both simple and complex hydraulic and pneumatic systems. In addition, we will provide services to help suppliers with the design of such systems”, says Fossbakken.

It is two years since he formed FPC together with his two colleagues. “Many companies have improvement potential in increased expertise within calculation of these,” Fossbakken thinks. “With an increasing degree of automation there is also a need for consultancy services within this sector.”

Software sales

FPC has developed a useful software tool for calculating components and capacities in hydraulic and pneumatic systems. The software product, called HpCalc(, will be available over the Internet (at www.fluid-power-control.no/) from October on. Successive beta versions will be posted on FPC’s home pages from August onwards. “We are aiming to supply most of our services over the Internet. This also applies to sales of HpCalc(, a demo version of which customers can download for a trial period before purchasing the tool from us. We think the system can also be an international success. FPC has already sold HpCalc( to the Stavanger firm Hitec Products AS, which has bought a combined package of software and courses. Hitec Products is a subsidiary of HitecVision AS, which supplies electro-hydraulic control systems for the offshore industry. In the future FPC will concentrate its activities on customisation of software solutions for its customers. This applies to systems for design of plants and simulation tools. “I expect to develop this concept further when we get to selling our software in more regular forms after October”, says Fossbakken. “Then we’ll have the money to refine our tools still more.”