In the upcoming edition of IMS Research’s World Market for Water Meters – 2011, to be published next week, arapid uptake is reported for static and advanced water metering technologies in key markets around the world.
Static water meters, which are marketed on their durability and variable-flow accuracy strengths, are experiencing increased adoption not only in the established commercial/industrial metering role,but in the emergent, and potentially far larger,domestic meteringsector. While domestic static water meters have been available for several years, only in 2010 have significant unit shipments been first reported in the market, predominantly in North America. Static water metering has grownin this region first due to worsening water scarcity, favorable utility standards allowing for long meter service life, and the availability of capital for advanced metering projects, all of whichjustify adoption of higher value metering systems.
This emergence of static metering has followed on the heels of several years of steady growth in advanced (communicating) water meter shipments in North America as well as the rest of the world, and it is likely that the increasing prevalence of advanced metering has opened the door for utilities to begin considering other new, high-value water metering options.
Market observers should note that the static meter adoption trend is specific to only certain regional markets, and is heavily impacted by water utility meter pricing and durability expectations.Utilities which have in the past used heavy brass positive displacement meters with 20 years or greater service lives are more likely to see the value in high cost, high accuracy, and durable static meters. Comments lead analyst Nicole Juarez, “The world market for domestic static water meters grew 300% in 2010 over 2009, to more than 200 thousand units shipped in 2010, while communicating water meters grew 16% last year to over 5 million units shipped globally. Both segments are expected to continue to outpace overall water meter market growth through 2016, although static meters will remain a comparatively small part of the total global market.”
At the time of the report’s publication, significant market shipments for static product type are limited to North America, with smaller shipments anticipated to grow in the future in drought-impacted Australia, parts of the Middle East, and Scandinavia.The global market for water meters is dominated in volume terms by the rapidly-growing, cost-sensitive Chinese and other developing markets.These regional markets are very unlikely to pursue higher-cost static metering in large numbers soon, and so the size of the static meteringtrend can seem miniscule from a global perspective. However, for multinational suppliers of high-value water metering solutions, thelower volume, higher value markets in North America, Australia, and Europe can present much more accessible opportunity than more locally-supplied Asian markets. Particularly as slow housing construction continues to hinder volume growth in North America and Europe, any trend towards adoption of higher-value meters for replacement applications is exciting news for major suppliers to this market.
Note: IMS Research defines static water meters as those with no moving parts, utilizing electromagnetic, ultrasonic, or oscillation technologies to measure flow of water. Advanced meters are defined as those which allow for remote meter data collection either via fixed network or mobile walk by/drive by technology.
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Donald Henschel – Market Analyst
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