Industrial test and inspection is fast-growing, high margin and ripe for disruption – end users increasingly require results in real time and new entrants are close to having the technology to achieve this. However, the traditional lab-based service providers hold masses of historical data – the key to producing accurate, predictive results. How the accuracy of the traditional service model and the speed of the new technology come together will determine the future shape of the industry.
Traditional service-led methods in industrial oil condition monitoring involve sending samples away to be analyzed in a lab and the results are sent back. Whether for product quality inspection or for predictive maintenance on machine assets this process can take somewhere between 48 hours up to 7 days. That turnaround time is acceptable in certain sectors and use cases but end-users in process industries such as oil and gas increasingly want the results in real time to reduce risk and ensure uptime.
Plural’s recent survey of end-users highlights that operators in these industries are committed to investing in technology which is able to produce accurate results in real-time. For these end users, the traditional lab-based methods will eventually become obsolete. A number of new technology entrants have emerged which seek to offer real-time results to various degrees of accuracy. However, without access to large historical datasets across a wide range of reference points the technology is limited in its accuracy. The holders of the data are the lab-based service providers which puts them in the driving seat to invest in digital to add speed to their capabilities and offer real-time results which are close to 100% accurate.
For technology companies and new entrants one strategy to grow would be to partner with OEMs in a specific market or niche application or to build a position with a large customer in a particular market. In oil condition monitoring, partnering with a lubricant supplier could also be a smart strategy.
Whilst disruption presents both challenges and opportunity for both traditional lab-based players and new entrants, Plural’s survey also indicates that digital and real-time test and inspection offerings will drive both market penetration and increased end user investment.
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