MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - Although the bleak economy has dampened prospects for traditionally strong nondestructive test (NDT) equipment markets, the industry still expects slow but steady growth. The growth will be fuelled by the high rate of infrastructure development in the Asia Pacific region and escalating governmental and environmental regulations in emerging countries. The advent of newer technologies and faster inspection methods combined with the need for compliance with safety legislations bodes well for NDT equipment manufacturers.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (www.testandmeasurement.frost.com), World Nondestructive Test (NDT) Equipment Markets, finds that market earned revenues of over $1.1 billion in 2008 and estimates this to reach $1.3 billion in 2013.
"The growth of industries, like power supply and transmission, transportation, water treatment, oil & gas, as well as aerospace has generated an increase in the demand for quality and frequency of inspection," says Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Analyst Vijay Mathew. "This trend has been witnessed in markets such as China, South Korea, India, and Thailand, as well as in Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine."
With the high economic growth rate witnessed in emerging regions, pollution has reached alarming levels and the need for compliance to mandates will positively impact NDT equipment sales. Advancements in ultrasonic and x-ray inspection techniques and the emergence of new application areas, including material testing, alternate energy, and complex electronics will also provide a strong thrust for the market in the coming years.
Overall, ongoing research in the field of materials technology to develop composite materials for use in the automotive, aerospace, and military segments generates the need for specialized NDT equipment. Also, as energy management concerns across the globe continues to rise, countries are looking to reduce their reliance on coal and other fossil fuels and turn towards alternate sources of energy such as nuclear, wind and hydroelectric; creating inspection opportunities for NDT equipment vendors.
However, while the advantages of nondestructive evaluation in improving safety and operational efficiency are apparent, both end-users and governing bodies have been slow to adopt new NDT technology. Dwindling inspection budgets of key consumers, particularly automotive and oil & gas, have not helped matters.
"Another factor that has reined in market penetration is that training institutions are not up-to-date with the latest NDT techniques, and are unable to provide adequate training programs," says Mathew. "Apart from the fact that training institutions form an important revenue stream for NDT vendors, the lack of available training on the latest NDT techniques hampers the possibility for new equipment sales."
To offer customers maximum value for their investments in NDT equipment, vendors are actively incorporating training programs through partnerships with service providers.
"The service segment offers significant potential for NDT equipment vendors," says Mathew. "NDT equipment vendors must go the extra mile and work closely with their customers to understand their specific demands while leveraging advancements in technology to deliver easy-to-use solutions."
In the present scenario, the majority of equipment vendors do not provide inspection services directly but build partnerships with service providers to augment their network and pave the way toward improved customer loyalty. As end-users are focused on increasing the residual life of their assets, a strong customer-centric approach becomes the key differentiator on which participants stake their businesses. The NDT service segment is estimated to be double that of the instrumentation market and provides demand opportunities for NDT equipment vendors for the future.