Technology Trends in Electronic Pressure Transducer and Transmitter Markets

4/29/2003 - A new three volume market study by Venture Development Corporation evaluates and forecasts markets in the United States for various technologies used in the following electronics pressure sensing devices:

Multi-variable pressure sensing devices combine a pressure output with one or more other types of sensing output (most typically temperature) in one unit. These accounted for a small share of pressure transducer and pressure transmitter shipments to U.S. markets in 2002, at about $80.5 million of a $1,230 million market, or 6.5% of the total. However, the growth rate in shipment of these products is expected to be much higher than the industry average, with shipments expected to exceed $212 million of a $1,443 million market in 2007, or 14.7% of the total. This represents a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 21.4% over the period, compared to 3.2% for the overall market.

The most cited reasons for shipment growth in these products are cost savings; in lower prices than in purchase of two or more devices, and lower costs after purchase (lower installation/wiring costs, lower maintenance costs, etc.). Other advantages cited are higher reliability, space savings, easier calibration, and reduction in process intrusion/penetration.

Smart Process Transmitter Communication Protocols
Currently the dominant share of smart process transmitters are shipped with the Highway Addressable Remote Transducer (HART) digital communication interface. HART was developed by Rosemount in the late 1980s, and became an open standard in 1990. HART provides two-way digital communication simultaneously with the 4-20 ma standard used by traditional instrumentation. HART is expected to continue to account for a large share of shipments over the next five years. A major reason for this is the large installed base of instrumentation using this technology, and the large share of the market in procurements of products for maintenance or repair.

For new and retrofit applications, HART is being displaced with more capable fieldbuses, such as Foundation Fieldbus, Profibus and others. The VDC study also found growing expectations of wireless communication usage over the forecast period. Jim Taylor, the project manager at VDC for this study, summarized three principal reasons for these trends as:

Sensing Technologies
Variable capacitance and piezoresistive semiconductor sensing technologies account for over 83% of electronics pressures transducer and transmitter shipments to markets in the United States, at about $1024 million in 2002. Of this the variable capacitance products accounted for about 40% of the total. For process pressure transmitters variable capacitance types accounted for the larger share at about 56% of combined shipment of $318 million. However, in the larger non-process pressure transducer and transmitter market, these accounted for 31% of combined shipments of around $706 million. Variable capacitance devices are very accurate and reliable, but are more expensive than piezoresistive diffused and ion implanted semiconductor type sensors.

Most of the process pressure transmitter market is for expensive, high-performance products. Also, Emerson Process Management (Rosemount) is the dominant supplier of process pressure transmitters to the U.S. market, and they principally sell variable capacitance products. The markets for non-process pressure transducers and transmitters are much more diverse, and a large portion of this market is for devices sold in large quantities at low prices. Applications of this type include automotive vehicles, medical, and computer peripherals. Shipments for these markets are principally of products with piezoresistive semiconductor technology.

In contrast, use of the variable capacitance products tend to dominate in high-performance and/or demanding environmental segments such as for meteorology, oil drilling, R&D laboratories, and for semiconductor manufacturing equipment.

In general the higher volume, low-priced product markets are expected to be the fastest growing, particularly the automotive vehicle market. In addition, use of these products are expanding into more applications. Thus, a higher market growth rate is forecast for piezoresistive semiconductor pressure transducer and transmitter products, at a 4.7% CAGR through the forecast period, versus a 1.6% CAGR for the variable capacitance products.

About VDC
Founded in 1971, VDC is a technology market research and consulting firm that specializes in industrial and commercial electronics, computing, communications, software and power system markets.

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