The U.S. measuring and testing equipment industry forms a significant portion of the manufacturing and instrumentation sector, employing over 350,000 workers as of 2008. It includes companies that produce equipment for testing, measuring, analyzing and controlling processes, as well as the peripheral sensors and accessories associated with them. Measuring and testing manufacturers provide a broad range of devices, including lenses and optical instruments; surgical, medical, and dental instruments; photography equipment; laboratory tools and scientific measuring devices; geographical surveying supplies; and navigation equipment for the aerospace and military industries.
Market strength in measuring and testing equipment manufacturing is largely based on demand from a variety of other industries, as this sector’s devices are often used to regulate costs and increase operational efficiency and competitiveness. This capacity for augmenting other processes allows measuring and testing equipment to maintain relatively steady demand, particularly among segments of the industrial market attempting to regain or improve productivity levels in the face of cost or budget reductions.
In 2008, overall revenue for the measuring and testing equipment industry totaled approximately $127.86 billion, indicating a small decline of roughly .4 percent in revenue growth over the previous year. The 2008 industry gross product was valued at $79.88 billion, with export value at about $43.79 billion and import value at $44.56 billion. More than two-thirds of total sales came from search, detection, and navigation equipment; electrical measuring and testing instruments; laboratory instruments; and electromedical devices; with other equipment, such as fluid meters, irradiation instruments, and clocks, accounting for the remaining portion.
Precision measuring and testing instruments often rely on the availability of raw materials, meaning that earnings in the industry may be influenced by fluctuating commodity prices, particularly those for chemicals, metals, and petroleum-based goods. A significant portion of growth for the measuring and testing equipment industry is driven by demand from the medical and scientific fields, but higher component and manufacturing costs may affect profits in the long-term.