‘Niche industries’ driving growth of new fire technology market

Need for advanced fire detection is rising, as industries that demand it—such as telecommunications and utilities—experience growth
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas—Laser-based aspirating smoke detectors and multi-sensors are the fastest-growing segment of the fire market and are modernizing the industry, according to a new study from IMS Research.

England-based IMS, whose U.S. headquarters are here, said “both technologies are forecast to see the fastest growth globally with compound annual growth rates of 9 percent and 7.3 percent respectively from 2011 to 2016.”

Adi Pavlovic, IMS analyst and report author, told Security Systems News that the fire industry has a reputation for moving slowly in terms of new products because they must undergo rigorous testing before going on the market.

However, he told SSN, strong construction growth in “niche industries,” including data centers, utilities and the petrochemical industry, is driving demand for the advanced fire detection technology that is best suited to protecting the high-value assets of such facilities.

“The reputation [of the fire industry] is slow-moving, but right now the key markets that are growing actually require the more sophisticated technology to rise to the top,” Pavlovic explained. “So despite this reputation you’re actually seeing this new technology come to life a lot quicker than [it would have] normally.”

IMS, which recently was acquired by Colorado-based IHS, a supplier of market research and consultancy, announced the results of the study in a news release Sept. 10.

The release said that “growth in niche industries such as data centers, utilities and offshore facilities [supports] the development of more advanced detection products due to the difficult environment these applications present for detection. Aspirating smoke detectors [ASDs] have a strong reputation in these industries.”

For example, Pavlovic said, the heat generated by the servers in data centers can make it challenging to detect a fire. “So that’s when these products come into play. They’re more sophisticated detection technology,” he told SSN.

He said that laser-based aspirating smoke detection “really dominates the data centers and telecommunications market.”

Because that market is growing, it’s driving the laser-based ASD market, Pavlovic said. Also, he said, it’s giving the new technology “a really good track record. The more data centers that go up, the more successful installations and people are realizing this technology works.”

And that’s creating demand in other markets, he said. “You’re seeing it evolve out into the industrial sector. You’re seeing some warehouses and factories start to consider using laser-based ASD,” Pavlovic said.

The multi-sensor detector market also is growing. Such detectors were the world’s second-largest detector market in 2011, worth about $239.5 million, IMS said.

Multi-sensor detectors combine several technologies into one product, increasing efficiency and lowering installation costs, IMS said. It said such detectors can combine as many as five technologies in one unit.

Pavlovic said the economic downturn spurred development of multi-sensor detectors. “I think really during the recession is when people started to consider multi-sensors and [that] gave manufacturers more leeway to combine technologies,” he said. “So you’ve seen a lot of the manufacturers try different blends.”

However, he said, the majority combine just optical and heat. “That seems to be the best solution,” he said.

Still, he said, standard optical detectors continue to dominate the market. The report said optical detectors “were estimated to account for almost half of the world’s fire detector market in 2011.”

Most of the market just needs “simple solutions and the optical is perfect for that,” Pavlovic said. “It’s simple and the most cost-effective.”

However, he said, “high-value-assets kinds of industries” will continue to need more complex solutions, so it’s important that manufacturers “stay up to speed with the increasing demand for more advanced detection technologies.”