General Analytical Techniques: Steady As She Goes

There are a number of analytical techniques that are not easily aggregated into a single category, yet are found in most laboratories. These instrument technologies include laboratory balances, pH meters and electrodes. Likewise, instruments used for specimen preparation, such as centrifuges and extraction and digestion equipment, are laboratory staples. These instrument techniques along with those systems that measure radioactivity have been grouped into a category called general analytical techniques (GAT).

Together, these techniques accounted for about $2.8 billion in sales in 2008 and are forecasted to grow collectively by 3.0% in 2009. This is slightly better than 2008’s growth of 2.4%. The 2009 forecast takes into account the current global slowdown during the first part of the year and projects a stronger second half.

Electrochemistry is the largest technology group, making up 27% of the GAT market. The electrochemistry segment includes a broad range of wet chemistry and electrochemistry tools, with the largest subsegment being pH meters and electrodes, as well as a variety of ion selective electrode instruments. Automated titration is the next largest subsegment of electrochemistry, while other techniques such as dissolved oxygen (DO) and conductivity instruments account for the remainder. Of these, DO instruments continue to offer the highest growth potential. Overall, the electrochemical market, led by Metrohm and Thermo Fisher Scientific, is expected to grow 3.5% in 2009.

The laboratory balance market is the second-largest GAT segment, accounting for 26% of the total GAT market, and is projected to grow 2.7% in 2009. Lab balances have a relatively long life, so growth is dependent on service, replacements and new installations. Analytical balances account for the largest share of the lab balance segment, but growth is expected to be flat this year. The fastest-growing segments are precision and special purpose balances. While demand in traditionally high-growth markets such as pharmaceuticals and biotech is somewhat soft, there are solid growth opportunities for life science applications in government and academia, and for sales in the food and beverage industry.

The centrifuge market accounted for nearly a quarter of the GAT market in 2008 and is expected to grow 1.9% in 2009. Benchtop centrifuges account for over 90% of lab installations. Benchtop systems are less expensive than floor-standing and high-speed models. The aftermarket (i.e., rotors) accounts for 30% of the centrifuge market and is projected to be the driving force for growth. The largest manufacturers are Thermo Fisher Scientific and Beckman Coulter.

Extraction techniques include solid-phase extraction (SPE), liquid-liquid extraction and supercritical fluid extraction, as well as acid digestion. SPE accounts for the largest segment of the market for extraction techniques and is expected to drive market growth of 4.8% in 2009.

Microwave-assisted chemistry includes microwave digestion, synthesis and extraction systems. Collectively, microwave-assisted chemistry accounted for 4% of the GAT market in 2008. Growth for microwave-assisted chemistry is expected to be relatively robust in 2009, increasing 5.7% due to solid demand for microwave synthesis systems.

Although radioactivity instrumentation is more frequently used for field applications, lab-based systems represent a sizable market. Liquid scintillation detection is a key modality. Other techniques include proportional counters and multichannel analyzers. The radioactivity market is expected to increase 1.8% in 2009 due to aftermarket growth.

The top five companies in the GAT market accounted for 43% of of sales last year. The top players are involved in the larger markets, including electrochemistry, balances and centrifuges. Varian and Waters are important players in extraction, while CEM and Biotage dominate microwave-assisted chemistry.

General Analytical Instrumentation 2008–09

Market Share Growth Rate

Electrochemistry 27.2% 3.5%

Lab Balances 26.0% 2.7%

Lab Centrifuges 22.6% 1.9%

Extraction Techniques 11.9% 4.8%

Radioactivity 8.3% 1.8%

MW-Assist. Chem. 4.0% 5.7%

Total 100.0% 3.0%

General Analytical Instrumentation Market Leaders

Electrochemistry Metrohm, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Lab Balances Mettler-Toledo, Sartorius

Lab Centrifuges Thermo, Beckman Coulter

Radioactivity PerkinElmer, Canberra (Areva)

Extraction Techniques Varian, Waters

MW-Assisted Chemistry CEM, Biotage

Chart: 2008 General Analytical Market by Product Type


Initial Systems1738.8

Aftermarket 839

Service 259

Chart: 2008 General Analytical Supplier Market Shares

Mettler-Toledo 14%

Thermo 10%

Beckman Coulter 7%

Sartorius 7%

Metrohm 5%

Others 57%

Chart: 2007–10 Total General Analytical Instrumentation Market

2007 2008 2009 2010

Millions $2,770 $2,837 $2,923 $3,030

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