Sensing the flow

The relatively mature $940.7 million flowmeter market is projected to experience steady revenue growth in the next years reaching $1.13 billion by 2009, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan.

Technological advances are underpinning a growing preference for intelligent instruments, which apart from measuring flow rate, can provide data on the performance of the instrument. Such smart multiphase flowmeters are being increasingly accepted in the oil and gas, and food and water industries. Ultrasonic and coriolis mass flowmeters are gradually dislodging conventional flowmeters such as electromagnetic, turbine and positive displacement due to their accuracy, reliability and low maintenance.

In 2002, ultrasonic flowmeters held 7.7% of total market revenues while coriolis mass flowmeters held 15.5%. The strongest advance is expected for the ultrasonic devices, which will experience a 2002-2009 compound annual revenue growth rate of 7.2%, significantly above the market average rate of 2.6%.

The flow sensors market is also finding important sources of demand in the replacement market. The large installed base of flow sensors in Europe provides continuous sales prospects since devices need periodic repair or upgrade. This is especially true in the chemicals, oil and gas, and power generation sectors, where failure to renew sensors may have serious safety implications.

The high potential for unit sales, however, is not likely to drive profits. Intense competition in a market with more than 60 participants has sparked price wars, which in turn, is driving down profit margins. Competitive pressures are expected to continue to remain high as the leading suppliers look to enhance their overall position.

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