SAN ANTONIO, TX-Nondestructive test (NDT) inspection service has been one of the few markets that performed impressively during the global economic downturn, according to market research firm Frost & Sullivan. It witnessed modest growth in 2009 and rebounded with an unexpectedly improved performance in 2010.

North America is the main contributor to revenues, due to high government safety regulations stipulating that inspection be carried out regularly, even during the downturn. Europe is the second largest contributor to revenues in this market. The development of wind farms across Western Europe, particularly in countries such as Spain and Germany, is creating demand for NDT inspection services. However, the growth of NDT inspection services in this region is expected to be slower when compared with other regions.

Frost & Sullivan says the worldwide NDT market earned revenues of $3.05 billion in 2010 and estimates this to reach $5.59 billion in 2017.

Even though industries were hit severely during the economic downturn, the global NDT inspection services market revenues registered a growth of 4.7% in 2009. However, with the U.S. economy still recovering from the effects of financial downturn and the European economy being troubled by a sovereign debt crisis, the primary regions being outlined for growth in the global market are Asia Pacific and Latin America.

“The rapid rate of infrastructure development in emerging economies such as India, China, and Brazil is driving the demand for NDT inspection,” notes Frost & Sullivan Research Associate Nikhil Jain. “In Japan, the accident at Fukushima nuclear reactor is expected to trigger widespread increase in safety regulations for nuclear power plants, besides driving short-term precautionary inspection in existing nuclear plants worldwide.”

Meanwhile, in Latin America, Brazil has been the vanguard of the market recovery. The Brazilian economy is the largest in Latin America, with oil and gas, power generation, aerospace and automotive sectors being the main revenue generators. In this region, the majority of the revenues came from oil and gas end use segment, which perform compliance-based maintenance inspection.

The power generation segment, especially wind energy and nuclear power, also provides expansion opportunities to NDT inspection service providers. The awareness of the need for NDT inspection in these regions is low; however, industries are beginning to understand the importance of protecting their assets against catastrophic failures.

“Although most established participants provide high-quality inspection, less established and relatively smaller participants occasionally compromise on safety and quality,” says Nikhil. “This is especially witnessed in Asia Pacific, where the end-users are highly price conscious.”

Price is a major hurdle for many NDT inspection service providers in Asia Pacific. The lack of government safety regulations has affected the effective implementation of NDT inspection in this region. End users are unconcerned about the reputation and quality of the inspection service provider, but they demand the most competitive price-performance ratio.

With the number of pipeline explosions and infrastructure failures being witnessed around the world, authorities have intensified the scrutiny of inspection performed. Also, many industries that are reluctant to incur the exorbitant installation costs of new infrastructure are trying to extend the useful life of their existing assets. This has led to relative aging of these assets and periodic inspection is essential to guard against catastrophic failure.

To tap this ever increasing demand for NDT inspection, the service providers need to increase their market presence and technicians employed. However, this offers a considerable challenge as there is a clear lack of qualified and skilled technicians in this industry. To overcome this challenge, NDT equipment manufacturers have dedicated their resources to simplify the operational complexity of the instrument used for inspection and increasing the speed of inspection. As a result, technicians have additional time to perform a thorough analysis of the data collected.

For more information, contact Sarah Saatzer at[email protected]or (210) 477-8427, or