The threat toxic and combustible gases pose to the safety of plant personnel and nearby communities continues to draw intense attention.

Several catastrophic accidents, such as the Pike River mine explosion in New Zealand, have given industrial safety more prominence in the public consciousness and spurred demand for safety systems and safety instrumentation like toxic and combustible gas detectors.

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The Pike River Mine disaster was a November 19, 2010 coal mining accident that began on November 2010 in the West Coast Region of New Zealand’s South Island. An explosion occurred in the mine at approximately 3:44 p.m. At the time of the explosion 31 miners and contractors were in the mine. Two miners managed to walk away, treated for injuries. The remaining 16 miners and 13 contractors, were around 5,000 feet from the mine’s entrance.

Following a second explosion on November 24 at 2:37 p.m., police believed the 29 remaining men died. Police Superintendent Gary Knowles, officer in command of the rescue operation (Operation Pike) said he believed that “based on that explosion, no one survived.” A third explosion occurred at 3:39 p.m. on November 26, and a fourth explosion occurred just before 2 p.m. on November 28.

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Compliance with increasingly tough safety regulations will remain a major factor driving investment in safety systems and toxic gas detectors among oil and gas, refining, petrochemical and mining customers.

With that in mind, the worldwide market for toxic and combustible gas detectors will continue to grow next year according to a new ARC Advisory Group study.

“Protection of human lives and plant assets is critical to all organizations and that is why, even though the economic recovery has slowed down in recent years, we still expect the gas detection market to grow,” said ARC Advisory Group Analyst Inderpreet Shoker, the principal author of ARC’s “Toxic and Combustible Gas Detector Global Market Research Study.”

The toxic and combustible gas detectors market consists of hundreds of companies, with small niche suppliers and those with more product lines, systems, and strong service capabilities. However, going forward ARC sees a strong trend toward consolidation.

Large suppliers are acquiring small manufacturers to increase their market share. Acquisition helps them to expand product lines and foray into new markets by acquiring new technologies. The market is also observing new entrants through acquisitions.

Hyperspectral and infrared cameras are among the newer technologies gaining wider acceptance in recent times. These cameras can visualize various toxic and combustible gases to produce a picture of the scanned area in real-time. Well suited for detection of various types of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), these cameras are becoming an attractive option for industries such as chemical and water & wastewater.

With China and India as the growth engines, Asia represents the greatest opportunity for greenfield projects for gas detector suppliers.

However, in these developing markets enforcement of regulations sometimes slides. As a result, users tend to be less concerned about reliability than about cost. With safety issues becoming a major point of concern for the governments of these countries, ARC sees this trend changing in future. Quite a few developing countries are taking measures to improve the implementation to address rising safety issues. As a result, end users in these regions have started to overlook the cost and pay more importance to reliability and performance of the detectors.

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