NDT equipment market gaining momentum with evolving technologies


The NDT industry can be broadly classified into two segments: equipment and services. Although there is a certain degree of overlap in competition between these two segments, with a few competitors offering both equipment and services, the market dynamics differ across equipment and services. New research carried out by Frost & Sullivan and reported by Research Analyst Nikhil Jain contains an overview of the NDT equipment market by covering the trends impacting the market across different technology and end-user industry segments.

The report concludes that the market for NDT equipment is highly mature and concentrated. The top two competitors in the market, GE Measurement and Control Solutions and Olympus NDT Inc, occupy approximately 50% of the market. The remaining 50% is shared by more than 150 companies. Only GE Measurement and Control Solutions has product lines across various technologies, such as ultrasonic, radiography, magnetic and electromagnetic, visual and penetrant testing. Other participants offer equipment in one or two technology segments, with ultrasonic and radiography segments having the largest number of participants.

Frost & Sullivan’s research estimated the global NDT equipment market at $1,489.9 million in 2012, growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.1%. Of this, ultrasonic testing contributed 31.1% to the market revenue, making it the largest technology segment in the market. Radiography was the second largest at 30.3% and visual inspection was the third largest segment, contributing 21.3% to the market revenue. In the next five years, radiography is expected to overtake ultrasonic testing as the largest technology segment in the NDT equipment market. This is an extremely interesting trend, as the volume of ultrasonic test equipment is expected to be significantly higher than radiography, but the average price for ultrasonic test equipment is declining at a faster pace than radiography equipment. Therefore, the revenue to be generated from the radiography segment is expected to be higher than the ultrasonic segment. To put things into perspective revenue wise, radiography is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.7% and ultrasonic test equipment at a CAGR of 7.4%.

From an end-user industry perspective, power generation and oil & gas are the two largest segments, contributing 21.8% and 20.9%, respectively, in 2012. Both these industries are expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.5%.

Although the market is mature and is characterised by a slow rate of change of technology, over the past decade there have been important advancements in technology. Phased array ultrasonics has seen exponential growth with the introduction of truly portable instrumentation. Digital radiography has witnessed wide-scale adoption in the electronics, automotive and aerospace industries. Remote visual inspection (RVI) is witnessing incremental adoption, with many aerospace industry codes mandating its use for inspection in certain applications. Overall, there has been greater adoption of advanced NDT technologies. Conventional NDT technologies are evolving steadily, with improvements in performance and functionality of the equipment.

The key growth driver for the NDT equipment market is the need to extend the useful life of ageing assets and running these assets at high capacities. The costs and challenges involved in building new infrastructure have resulted in a desire for end-user industries to extend the useful life of their existing infrastructure. Thus, these existing assets have aged, especially in North America. The average age for a refinery or power plant in the United States is more than 40 years, yet these assets are required to run at high capacities. In the Middle East, existing refineries have been increasing their capacity utilisation due to the shortage of refined oil in the market. This shortage has been created by the trade-related sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union on Iran. Running these aged assets at higher capacities may result in failure if the assets are not inspected periodically. The level of maintenance required to preserve these assets and run them at high capacities has created an immense demand for NDT inspection. This demand for inspection is driving the growth in the NDT equipment market and is expected to have a continued positive impact for the foreseeable future.

A global trend being witnessed in the NDT industry is the shortage of skilled technicians, according to the report. This is despite the fact that in many regions there is a constant supply of NDT technicians. The report discusses the requirement for operators to possess the necessary skill-sets to perform inspections at an acceptable level of quality and the need for technicians to be equipped with the knowledge, expertise and experience of applying the latest NDT technologies. Many NDT equipment manufacturers look for growth through the adoption of new, advanced technologies and products. Consequently, over the past year or so, it is reported that NDT equipment manufacturers have set up their own training centres or academies. Even though most NDT equipment manufacturers provided NDT training before, it was offered only as an after-sales support service. Now, however, equipment manufacturers such as GE, Olympus NDT and Carestream NDT have opened up training centres that provide training independent of the purchase of equipment.

In the recently published Frost & Sullivan study, entitled: ‘Analysis of the global non-destructive test equipment market’, detailed analysis on current and future trends has been provided, in addition to a comprehensive view on the latest market and technology trends, revenue projections, competitive landscape and growth opportunities in this market space.

For any queries on this article or the published research, contact Nikhil Jain at nikhilj@frost.com, or visit the website below.