Wealthy pharmaceuticals industry is a booming market for wastewater treatment

The high standards required and wealth of the pharmaceuticals industry means that the water and wastewater treatment equipment industry, currently worth around US$186 million (£130 million) in Europe, is expected to grow to over US$248 million (£174 million) by 2007 – but suppliers need to be aware of the competition.

High water quality, fuelled by increasingly stringent regulations, is of paramount importance to the pharmaceuticals industry for processes such as sterilisation of containers or medical devices, and as a direct ingredient for medicine, says a new survey of the industry by international marketing consultants Frost and Sullivan.

“Strict microbial control of incoming water is also cost-beneficial as it avoids bio-fouling and scaling problems in production equipment,” said Frost and Sullivan researcher Saana Karki. “Such industry-specific circumstances provide impetus for growth in demand for increasingly sophisticated on-site treatment facilities.”

However, the market is approaching maturity, which will result in saturation in demand, says Karki. “Furthermore, current concerns of weakening competitiveness, fears of economic downturn and phenomena of price restrictions and rationalisation efforts, lend substance to emerging challenges,” Karki added.

Market saturation will mean that in the future the market will be predominantly driven by replacements and upgrades, with a growing focus on cost efficiencies which is already beginning to emerge, says Frost and Sullivan.

Other factors which need to be taken into consideration by water and wastewater equipment suppliers include after-sales support, such as overall customer service and delivery, which are criticised by customers as generally inferior, a situation which is exacerbated by the monopolies enjoyed by a number of suppliers. Competitiveness in the industry is ultimately determined by companies’ ability to meet product specifications and service requirements, says Frost and Sullivan.

“As competition grows fiercer and the importance of upgrades and facilities rises, the benefits of evaluating potential new suppliers are becoming more prominent,” said Karki. “Particularly, while many on-site treatment plants consist of various components and pieces of equipment, customers active in the advancing replacement markets are more likely to take on new suppliers in addition to, or even in place of, current ones.”

The survey found that Millipore, US Filter, Pall, USF Elga and Culligan achieve the highest level of brand awareness and performance ratings, and were particularly praised for their technological understanding, guarantees and serviceability.

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