Technology Trends in Electronic Pressure Transducer and Transmitter Markets


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Natick, Mass. -- A three-volume market study by Venture Development Corp. evaluates and forecasts markets in the United States for various technologies used in electronics pressure sensing devices.

These devices include:

  • Process Transmitters
  • Non-Process Transducers & Transmitters
  • Component Level Pressure Sensors (solid state devices sold either as silicon chips, or with a limited degree of packaging that allow these to be incorporated into transducers & transmitters)

Current and Forecast Shipment Shares of Muli-Variable Pressure Transducers & Transmitters to U.S. Markets (Percentages of Dollar Volumes)

2002 Total: $1,230 MillionPressure Output Only: 93.5 percentMulti-variable Types: 6.5 percent

2007 Total: $1.4 billionPressure Output Only: 85.3 percentMulti-variable Types: 14.7 percent

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 $1.2 billion market, or 6.5 percent 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 $1.4 billion market in 2007, or 14.7 percent of the total. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.4 percent over the period, compared to 3.2 percent 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.

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. Three principal reasons for these trends are:

  • A need for more and faster data transmittal that will lead to higher productivity
  • Added capabilities-for example the ability to transmit more diagnostics data
  • Growing acceptance and usage of Foundation Fieldbus and other open protocols, which will lead to higher volumes- the greater economies of scale will lead to cost reductions and lower the prices of products with these communication interfaces, thus further stimulating demand.

Variable capacitance and piezoresistive semiconductor sensing technologies account for more than 83 percent of electronics pressures transducer and transmitter shipments to markets in the United States, at about $1 billion in 2002. Of this, the variable capacitance products accounted for about 40 percent of the total. For process pressure transmitters variable capacitance types accounted for the larger share at about 56 percent of combined shipment of $318 million. However, in the larger non-process pressure transducer and transmitter market, these accounted for 31 percent of combined shipments of around $706 million. Variable capacitance devices are 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 is expanding into more applications. Thus, a higher market growth rate is forecast for piezoresistive semiconductor pressure transducer and transmitter products, at a 4.7 percent CAGR through the forecast period, versus a 1.6 percent CAGR for the variable capacitance products.

VDC is a technology market research and consulting firm that specializes in industrial and commercial electronics, computing, communications, software, and power system markets. For more information, visit www.vdc-corp.com.

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