by Jesse Yoder, Ph.D.

The market for pressure transmitters has experienced solid growth over the past five years, showing a strong upsurge in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Several factors account for this rising demand. First, there has been a tremendous increase in the amount of activity in oil & gas exploration and production in recent years. Second, the pressure market has risen due to growth in the number of capital projects in Asian and other countries, particularly China, India and the Middle East. Finally, suppliers have made product improvements to their pressure transmitters, resulting in more stable and accurate measurement instruments.

Growth in the multivariable transmitter market in particular has been significant, as demand for such technologies has more than doubled over the past five years. Multivariable transmitters measure more than one process variable. These variables are usually pressure, differential pressure and temperature. Some multivariable transmitters output these values to a flow computer for calculation, while others use these values to compute mass flow. Multivariable pressure transmitters are widely used to measure steam flow.

Bristol Babcock (www.bristolbabcock.com) first introduced multivariable pressure transmitters in 1992. Since, Emerson Rosemount (www.rosemount.com) and Honeywell (www.honeywell.com) have released their own multivariable transmitters, establishing themselves as leading suppliers in this area. More recently, ABB (www.abb.com), Foxboro (www.foxboro.com) and Yokogawa (www.yokogawa.com) have entered this market as well, adding to the competition.

Many companies have invested heavily in pressure transmitter technology in recent years. And since changing technologies comes with startup and educational costs, these users figure to stay with their pressure transmitters unless they have a problem with them or are required to change technologies due to a need to move to a higher performance level. Even when high performance is required, technology improvements by pressure transmitter suppliers may persuade end-users to stick with pressure transmitters regardless of advances in alternative technologies.

Geographically, the fastest growth in the pressure transmitter market is occurring in China, India and the Middle East, as well as in the developing countries of Asia where more new plants are being built. Far fewer new plants are being built in the United States and in Europe, although some plants are being upgraded. Capital spending has also been on the rise over the past several years, and indications are this trend will continue. This will help the pressure transmitter market in all geographic regions.

Pressure transmitters are used for liquid, steam and gas applications. Liquid accounts for the highest percentage with 44 percent on a worldwide basis. Gas applications account for just over 39 percent of these revenues, while steam makes up 17 percent of the total (see chart provided above). Of these three applications, gas applications are the fastest growing. Gas applications, including natural gas, are becoming increasingly important, as natural gas has risen in price over the past few years.

This article is based on a recent study conducted by Flow Research Inc. (www.flowresearch.com), titled “The World Market for Pressure Transmitters, 2nd Edition.” For more information on this study, visit Flow Research’s knowledge Web site on pressure technology at www.worldpressure.com.