Strict air quality standards, coupled with demands from increasingly vocal employees and building tenants are forcing employers and building operators to improve air quality.
According to Frost and Sullivan, consultants in environmental technology, U.S. commercial and industrial air filtration markets generated revenues of $1.13 billion in 2000. The firm predicts that number will climb to $1.51 billion by 2007.
"Despite the promise of a resurgence in demand, market participants will have to overcome some significant obstacles," said Caryn Sykes, Frost and Sullivan industry analyst. "A growing number of end users are pushing manufacturers to conform to a high level of performance, with quality checks and information to back it up."
End user in the semi-conductor industry, for example, are demanding a higher level of cleanliness and efficiency from HEPA filters. Cleanroom operators are even looking to filters to address issues of airborne molecular contamination.
Furthermore, end users expect low failure rates and quality checks to ensure consistent high-level performance. Air filter manufacturers will need to devote significant resources to R&D, manufactures, sales and quality assurance to meet all of their customer''s needs.
At the same time, price pressures will make it more difficult for companies to produce high-quality filters. "Many air filtration products are becoming commodity products," Sykes said. "Although customers mention quality and fast delivery as important purchasing factors, customers ultimately select commodity products according to price."
What this means for employers is that new, larger competitors will emerge as market consolidation continues. These companies promise to be more aggressive, lowering prices and cutting margins. They will also have to bolster customer service, develop customized products and enter partnerships or strategic alliances, which all translate into improved systems for the end users.
by Melissa Martin