The State of the Analytical & Life Science Instrumentation Industry

In this article we discuss some of the product categories covered by the SDi Global Assessment Report 2018: The Laboratory Analytical & Life Science Instrumentation Industry. The SDi Global Report is comprised of ten major sections, each devoted to a major class of instrumentation. Here’s what manufacturers can expect in 2018.

Chromatography: Mobile and High Performing

The chromatography market saw healthy growth in 2017, as a result of a rebound in demand from chemical and energy markets, which benefited GC products. Meanwhile, a strong pharmaceuticals industry boosted sales growth for other technologies, including HPLC and SFC. The continuation of strong demand in China and the unexpected stabilization of the economy in Europe also helped keep the market strong. On the other hand, these sales boosts were offset by a weaker performance in North America, due in part to public spending uncertainties as well as weaker industrial spending in regions affected by hurricanes.

Total sales for chromatography are dominated by aftermarket products, especially consumables such as columns and solvents. In fact, revenues from aftermarket and service tend to drive market growth more so than the instruments themselves. All combined, the total chromatography market is expected to grow 4.1% in 2018.

Increasing investments and grants for early and more accurate clinical diagnostics are set to benefit clinical HPLC, which explains its projected high growth rate. In other applied markets, namely food and environmental testing, sales from China and India will continue to increase demand.

Life Science: Continued Strength
Life Science constitutes the largest category in the analytical instrument industry, representing a quarter of the total industry. Growth in 2017, estimated at 4.8%, was largely driven by sales of consumables for use with a growing base of installed systems. The LS market is comprised of 13 individual technology segments, which encompass a wide range of applications. This provides significant opportunities for growth of both general applications and niche research markets.

Demand for Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) continues to flourish, impacting not only the sequencing segment, but also driving strong demand in the nucleic acid sample preparation segment. Growth was evident in both the public and private sectors, as genomics technology has reached beyond basic research into the biomedical realm.

Geographically, China’s demand for life science instruments is the fastest growing, propelled by the country’s precision medicine initiative. The next largest demand is in the US, which is the largest LS market. Although academia remains the main end-user segment, demand is rapidly shifting to the clinical and pharmaceutical segments, and is expanding in other niche markets such as agriculture and food.

Mass Spectrometry: New Products Accelerate Growth

Mass Spectrometry (MS) technology continues to advance with new offerings that feature improved resolution, greater automation and enhanced data analysis. Growth in the last year driven by the biopharmaceuticals and food safety markets, and pent up demand for GC/MS. Led by demand for advanced LC/MS technologies, as well as solid growth in the biopharmaceutical and applied sectors, the MS market is expected to grow 7.3% in 2018.

A mainstream technology for pharmaceutical analysis, quadrupole LC/MS comprises over a third of total demand for MS. Led by triple quadrupole systems, demand in this market is expected to remain robust in 2018, driven by pharmaceutical analysis and food safety applications. The GC/MS market is expected to face moderate growth, particularly as the outlook for energy market spending remains favorable. Meanwhile, portable MS revenues will continue to grow, although the rate will diminish from what this market has experienced in previous years.

Lab Automation: Software Fuels Demand

Lab automation technologies are intended to automate and document repetitive laboratory procedures. Therefore, they serve to increase the efficiency, accuracy and pace of work done in the lab. We expect the total market for lab automation estimated to grow by 4.5% this year.

The biopharmaceutical sector accounts for more than half of the market for lab automation technologies. The pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors, as well as CROs depend on automated processes and software solutions to increase productivity. The need for high-throughput analysis, sample tracking and data analysis has driven the growth in demand of many segments. Some technologies, like liquid handling, and multiplex and high-throughput ELISA, play an important role in the applied sector, particularly in hospital and clinical laboratories where large quantities of samples need to be processed in a short time.

Informatics and LIMS will record the fastest growing demand among lab automation technologies in 2018. The need for regulatory compliance, desire to increase accessibility of data, validation requirements, optimization of processes and interest in automating QA/QC in the biopharmaceutical and applied sectors are driving sales growth for these products.

Atomic Spectroscopy: Gathering Strength

The atomic spectroscopy category collects a number of technologies primarily intended to provide the elemental composition of samples, using light spectroscopy to detect characteristic signatures of the different atomic structures. Total market demand for atomic spectroscopy will accelerate slightly in 2018 to 4.5%.

Industrial applications in chemicals as well as metals and mining have recovered, helping to spur additional growth in the market for these instruments. Common applications for many of these instruments are in environmental testing. This market remains stable and growing, particularly in developing nations that are continuing to adopt regulations and stiffer testing regimens.

The individual segments of the atomic spectroscopy market are forecast to achieve sales growth in the low- to mid-single digits in 2018, with ICP-MS having the fastest growth potential due to its extraordinary sensitivity and the ability to perform speciation analysis, which can be important to users in food, pharmaceutical, and environmental laboratories. Demand is strong for segments including X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) and Total Organic Carbon (TOC).

Molecular Spectroscopy: Steady Growth Ahead

The molecular spectroscopy market is a combination of technologies that analyze how molecules react with light by absorption, emission, vibration, changing energy states and many other interactions. An exception is NMR, which analyzes the interaction of atomic nuclei in a magnetic field with electromagnetic radiation. The total market is forecast to grow at a rate of 5.0%.

In 2018, sales growth for molecular spectroscopy techniques will be driven mainly by IR and Raman spectroscopy systems. New portable, handheld IR and Raman systems continue to grow in popularity. Combined with a broad range of applications ranging from QA/QC to drug discovery, these two technologies will experience the fastest growth in demand out of the individual technology segments. NIR will also help fuel sales growth in this technology sector as uses in the biopharmaceutical sector continue to expand.

Surface Science: Focused on Growth

Surface science technologies encompass instruments involved in observing and analyzing the physical and chemical surface properties of a material at the micro- and nano-scale, generally though microscopic techniques. The technologies range from traditional light microscopes to instruments that utilize light, electrons, other particles or close physical contact. Certain techniques can penetrate the surface and provide information on deeper layers of a sample.

Optical microscopy and electron microscopy constitute the majority of the market. Despite a history dating centuries, the light microscope is still a valued part of virtually every laboratory setting in the world. Market demand remains strong and is projected to grow 4.7% in 2018. Electron microscopes can also be found in a wide range of lab settings. Traditionally a materials science technique, electron microscopy has expanded into life science imaging, as instruments have become more robust. Market growth will be propelled by these new applications, as well as investments by microelectronics and semiconductor companies.

The 800+ page SDi Global Assessment Report 2018 details updated size, growth and market analyses for over 50 instruments in six major technology categories. In addition the projections, based on 15 editions over 20+ years of publication, are made on the industry’s prospects out to 2022 and include technology overviews, and detail market segment and regional developments. For this first time, users of the report will have an option to receive an electronic data stream updating the market projections on a quarterly basis.

Materials Characterization: Hitchhiking Oil Prices

The market for materials characterization technologies picked up in 2017, benefiting from pent up demand in the industrial sector. Its moderate growth rate is expected to continue this year, in line with the expected rise of global oil prices through 2018. Rising oil prices will encourage oil producers to increase their output, especially in North America, translating into higher demand for analytical testing products such as petroleum analyzers, viscometers and calorimeters.

The growth in demand for physical testing instrumentation is driven by applications in product development and QC by automotive manufacturers. The increasing use of aluminum, carbon fiber composites and additive manufacturing in automotive production is expected to bolster demand for these techniques in 2018.

There is no dominant player in the materials characterization market, as no company owns more than a tenth of the total market size. The competitive landscape is unlikely to change much in the foreseeable future, as there is no strong indication that suppliers are looking to substantially diversify their product portfolios beyond their current offerings.

General Analytical Techniques: Dissolution Testing Leads Growth

Lab balances, electrochemistry equipment, radioactivity systems, dissolution testing products, and continuous flow and discrete analyzers make up the General Analytical Techniques (GAT) market segment covered by the SDi Global Assessment Report 2018. These technologies have little to do with each other but are common components of most laboratories. Electrochemistry and lab balances combined make up the majority of the market at nearly 80% of total demand. These two technologies are often found in laboratories as ISE/pH meters and analytical balances, respectively. Both technologies should experience sales growth close to average for the GAT market due to their ubiquity in laboratories across nearly all industries.

An essential part of bringing drugs to market, dissolution testing is likely to experience above average growth. Demand for this technology should grow as the biopharmaceutical sector continues to perform well worldwide. Commonly used with life science molecules tagged with radioactive isotopes, radioactivity equipment is set to experience a slight sales decline as companies look for other ways to achieve the same analysis without the need for radiation.

Laboratory Equipment: Life Science Techniques Lead Growth

The lab equipment market includes a number of technologies that are essential for laboratory scientists to perform everyday tasks but, unlike instrumentation, do not make measurements. These techniques contribute to a range of tasks from sample preparation to cell culture and everything in between.

Almost half of market demand comes from the biopharmaceutical sector. The strong growth in this end-market will generally also be reflected in demand for lab equipment. However, some of these technologies, like transfection, and bioreactors and fermenters, will benefit the most, posting mid-single digit sales growth in 2018. These technologies have shown technical improvements in the last couple of years that are attractive to users.

The SDi Global Assessment Report 2018: The Laboratory Analytical & Life Science Instrumentation Industry is the most trusted “gold standard” for measuring the size and growth of the analytical and life science instrumentation industry globally. For each instrument and category, the report quantifies the regional distribution of demand; the size of the market segmented according to initial systems, aftermarket, and service; unit shipments/installations; growth rates; and demand by industry and lab function. Each section also explores the current state of the competitive playing field, including a list of the top vendors’ market shares, a vendor participation matrix, recent developments, and concludes with a short discussion that suggests where the market might be headed over the next five years from the related standpoints of technology, competition, and growth. In our next article, we’ll discuss the instrument categories that the SDi Global Assessment Report 2018 predicts will experience the greatest growth in 2018.

This article was adapted from the SDi Global Assessment Report 2018 and the 2018 Instrument Business Outlook 2018 Forecast Issue.