|The ability of NDT to inspect an object without affecting its operating performance provides an excellent balance between quality control and cost-effectiveness. The NDT equipment market is well researched, with products and technologies well defined. As a result, often the contribution of the inspection services market and personnel gets overlooked.
Although the advancement of NDT technologies provides an undeniable boost to the industry, the importance of actually implementing these technologies and analysing the data to provide actionable intelligence is of equal importance to the industrial world. The NDT services market includes inspection services, consultancy services and training services, but this article will focus on the inspection services and give a brief overview of the global market. Inspection services can be segmented as ultrasonic inspection, surface inspection, eddy current inspection, visual inspection and radiography.
The NDT industry is undergoing rapid change. Traditional NDT technologies are evolving in important ways, providing new benefits and added value to end-users. The applications in which NDT is used are also evolving. Many industries, such as material science, electronics, solar etc, that have used NDT techniques sparingly in the past are showing increasing interest in employing newer and more advanced techniques, while some of the traditional NDT end-users such as oil & gas and automotive are sceptical about adopting newer advanced NDT technologies and prefer the traditional more proven techniques. A wave of consolidations and mergers has recently swept over the NDT industry. Applus RTD set the trend with the acquisition of Staveley Services, Quality Inspection Services and Valley Industrial X-Ray & Inspection Services in 2010. In 2008, Applus RTD had completed a $50 million acquisition of JANX. Acuren, a leading US inspection company owned by Rockwood Services Corporation, kicked off 2010 with two Canadian acquisitions: Bretech Inspection and Remote Access Technology. These were followed in August 2010 by the acquisition of Extech LLC.
The NDT inspection services market is huge and growing at a steady pace. Frost & Sullivans initial analysis pegs the global market at over $2.5 billion. Extending the useful life of ageing infrastructure is driving the need for inspection services. The exorbitant cost and challenges involved in building new infrastructure has resulted in significant ageing of existing infrastructure. To assess the integrity and prevent catastrophic failures, NDT inspection is of paramount importance. The well publicised infrastructure failures such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River bridge collapse have raised the awareness for the value of NDT inspection.
Another factor fuelling the growth for this industry has been the shortage of NDT inspectors. PQNDTs 2006 salary survey in the US found that the average age for a NDT inspector is 41.5 years. The same survey done in 2010 reveals that the average age for an NDT inspector is 45 years. Stricter government regulations and increasing sophistication of NDT methods has led to an increase in demand for skilled inspectors. This demand for NDT inspectors is outweighing the supply. As a result, many companies that performed inspection in-house in the past have started outsourcing these services to providers that have the necessary technical workforce and expertise to perform these tasks.
With the US economy still feeling the effects of the recession and the European economy being troubled by a sovereign debt crisis, the primary region being outlined for growth in NDT services is Asia Pacific. India and China are driving the NDT services market in this region with large-scale infrastructure projects being announced by respective countries. One of the major challenges that many inspection service providers face in this region is price. The end-users are highly price conscious and demand the best price-performance ratio. Another region high on growth is South America, especially Brazil. The Brazilian economy is the largest in South America, with oil & gas, power generation, aerospace and automotive sectors being the main drivers.
Overall, the NDT services market has huge potential. To put things in perspective, Frost & Sullivans analysis into the NDT equipment market estimated it to be around $1 billion. In comparison, the NDT services market is almost double that.
In the soon-to-be-published Frost & Sullivan study titled World NDT Inspection Services Market, detailed analysis on current and future trends will be 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.
Frost & Sullivan also conducts extensive research in the areas of non-destructive testing, material testing, condition monitoring and NVH testing, among others. For further information or any comments, suggestions or queries, email: NikhilJ@frost.com