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Price declines and technological advances to provide level instruments market with momentum for growth
Keywords Marketing, Europe, Technological developments
End-user interest in continuous on-line monitoring has led to the removal of the switch or point level device as the prime level indicator in many applications. The continual drive for consistency and quality under safe, hygienic conditions as well as the handling of hazardous and corrosive substances have swayed many end-users towards non-contact or non-invasive level technology.
Technological innovation in the European level instruments market has been driven by the need for accuracy and robustness. In a number of application areas, greater emphasis is placed on features and benefits rather than price, reports a new study by Frost & Sullivan, the international marketing consulting company.
Prices for level instruments based upon new technology have decreased as a result of economies-of-scale, cheaper electronic components, improved manufacturing techniques and price pressure from both competitors and customers.
"With economic uncertainty across Europe spurred on by the monetary union, success or failure of the ECU is expected to affect the level instruments market either way. Technology transfers, component sharing, long-term alliances and mergers have all taken place in recent years as companies review their selling power in the market place", says Andreas Themis, Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
The European level instruments market, comprising instruments which incorporate a local data processing unit, amassed revenues worth US$677.4 million in 1998. Level instruments are crucial to the European manufacturing industry and operate at the heart of every industrialised process from food and pharmaceuticals to fuels and lubricants.
"Technical innovation has given birth to a wide variety of level measuring equipment all born from the simple float device to enable the measurement of many different substances ranging from sluggish, corrosive and part-foam to volatile and hazardous", adds Victoria Whiting, joint author of the study.
Victoria Whiting continues: "The main driving force behind recent growth in the level instruments market can be attributed to the technological capabilities of instruments supplied today along with greater emphasis from suppliers towards customer support and service since many of the instruments can be sold 'on the back' of other equipment sold".
The increasing trend towards non-intrusive measurement, the drive for on-line monitoring and accuracy, and price declines for technically advanced level instruments, such as ultrasonic and radar, are further factors boosting demand in the overall market for level instruments.
Along with technological innovations, such as the introduction of intelligent electronics and "SMART-HART" capabilities of transmitters, and increasingly stringent safety and environmental legislation, these driving forces are expected to catapult revenue growth to a level of US$706.9 million by the end of the study period in 2005.
The most active product sector is the market for radar level instruments which is expected to increase considerably as new markets materialise and competitive pricing policies penetrate further into the overall level instruments market. This segment is forecast to be the largest contributor to total revenues in 2005.
At present, however, the largest revenue-generating product market is the capacitive level instruments market. Market growth can be mainly attributed to ongoing technological developments particularly with combating the adverse effects of conductive coating, the rise in the demand for alarm switches and warning systems and the growth of the food industry. The capacitive level instrument faced increasing competition from alternative level technologies in many areas and trend towards non-contact level instruments also affected demand for these devices.
Increasing competition in the hydrostatic level instruments market, ranking in second position, has enabled prices for these instruments to decline and expand the number of applications that this technology can be applied too. An overall increased activity in boiler applications and other pressure-related processes are anticipated to continue to attract large demand.
The older technologies in the float level instruments market have suffered as a result of many end-users switching to the more sophisticated electrical level instruments that have appeared in previous years particularly as prices for these equipment fell into many customers' spending budgets.
A number of players in the market for level instruments are reinforcing their company's status in the marketplace by striving for a sound reputation and emphasizing the importance of customer loyalty. Good pro-sales advice is considered crucial in this competitive market especially when dealing with, as is often the case, a non-engineer, adds Andreas Themis. "Important areas include clarification as to whether it is accuracy or repeatability that is desirable and successful negotiation between the buyer's criteria (usually product cost) and the user (product suitability)", he concludes.
Frost & Sullivan is an international marketing consulting company that monitors a comprehensive spectrum of high-tech markets, including the test and measurement industry for market trends, market measurements and strategies. This ongoing research is utilised to complement a series of research publications such as the European Market for Pressure Sensors and Instruments Market (3575) to support industry participants with customised consulting needs. Free executive summaries of all Frost & Sullivan reports are available to the press.
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