When Steve Orlando , Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Exotic Automation , first approached his engineering team and asked whether they could design the World ’ s Largest Hydraulic Power Unit , the response was simple and definite : “ Hell yeah , we can !”
The New Hudson-based maker of fluid power systems is one of many manufacturers in Michigan that thrives on innovation and advancing technology , however , the scale of this project was daunting even for them . The numbers behind the World ’ s Largest Hydraulic Power Unit are staggering : 4,800 horsepower , maximum flow of 2,700 gallons per minute , 1.9 miles of hydraulic tubing and a capacity of 11,000 gallons of hydraulic oil .
So how did a relatively small firm in Michigan get to be in a position to work on what would eventually become a record-breaking piece of power equipment ? It started by asking a few simple questions . “ Our customer was working with a manufacturer in Germany for almost a year in designing this and we were asked to come in and advise on maintenance ,” says Orlando . “ As we were looking at the design , we started asking questions , ‘ Why are you doing it like this ?’ and ‘ Why are you doing it like that ?’”
Over the course of several months in which Exotic became more engaged with the project , this large OEM customer decided to cut out the middleman and go right to the experts which also happened to be in their backyard .
“ Eventually , the customer realized that we have the expertise right here in Michigan with our engineers , and our manufacturers , and they asked us , ‘ Are you interested in quoting on this ?’”
Exotic was , of course , interested in quoting the project . After months of collaborative engineering and developing a design , Exotic won the project and then set to work on creating this monster power unit that is scheduled to run 24 / 7 for the next 30 years .
There are many points of pride Orlando can take away from the experience and being recognized as the “ Coolest Thing Made in Michigan ” for 2021 but , maybe at the top of the list , is being able to showcase the company ’ s engineering capabilities .
“ We were working against a global company with tremendous resources ,” says Orlando . “ And we were able to show that we have the technical resources , the engineering capacity right here in Michigan to compete with a company that is world class and has more experience in this market .”
The award is also very special to the team , he says . To get the job done , the company took two engineers off every other project and spread the work over five to six engineers , service technicians , fabrication teams and between seven to eight subsuppliers . Orlando fully credits the team for bringing this project to life and putting them on the map for this kind of system .
Being able to keep the economic investment in the state was also important to the customer and to Exotic . Between raw materials , fabrication , quality control and implementation , Orlando estimates they were able to “ push down ” roughly $ 10 million worth of commerce into the state economy by using locally sourced suppliers .
Exotic ’ s World ’ s Largest Hydraulic Power Unit perfectly exemplifies the “ Coolest Thing Made in Michigan ” as it involves innovation , advanced technical expertise and , perhaps most importantly , the willingness to take risks . From here , Orlando and Exotic are hoping to leverage the notoriety to continue to grow in this highly specialized market .
“ It ’ s really kind of put us on the map in a whole different arena and we ’ re hoping to grow and continue to expand into this segment ,” he says . 6