Corporate Standardization Aids Photonics' Growth
Herbert Kaplan, Contributing Editor, and Robert Pini, News Editor
The process chemical industry is a major market for analytical instruments. Both on- and off-line applications for batch analysis use process infrared systems, a broad category that includes instruments such as Fourier-transform infrared and near-infrared analyzers, Raman spectrographs, atomic absorption (and emission) spectroscopy, x-ray fluorescence, UV/visible spectrophotometry and infrared temperature sensing.
One reason for the good growth rate is that after a company believes photonics can do the job, it tends to multiply its purchases. Laurie Kraut of pharmaceutical manufacturer Hoechst Marion Roussel in Bridgewater, N.J., said the objective of process control uniform production and quality assurance leads manufacturers to standardize equipment throughout their global operations.
It's possible to justify the cost of such a system if it improves the process enough to save money by reducing waste or eliminating recalls. "Cost benefit depends on the application," explained John Green, the analytical development manager at BP's chemical plant in Hull, UK. "By linking rapid analysis with a feedback loop to improve production and increase throughput, be it in a chemical reactor or in a distillation column, the payback can be significant."