THE market for detection equipment is growing as the threat of chemical and biological warfare escalates. The UK engineering company Smiths Group says the worldwide weapons detection market has doubled year-on-year. It is now worth an estimated u1bn annually.
Sales of detection equipment generated u125m (E184m, $201m) of revenue for the group in the first half, helping to make up for the disappointing results announced last week in some of its other divisions. The full-year forecast for the detection arm is u280m.
Demand for Smiths detection boxes has soared as airports and public buildings step up baggage screening in the wake of 11 September and the subsequent wave of anthrax attacks on the US postal system.
Smiths' biggest selling box is the Ionscan which can detect most explosives in hand baggage. The group has supplied the US Transportation Security Administration with 2,700 Ionscans so far, as US airports move towards 100% baggage screening.
The same technology is employed on a walk-through scanner called Sentinel which has just started a trial at Heathrow's Terminal 1. The scanner blows particles off clothing, collects them in a tray and scans them for dangerous agents, which it can detect within five seconds. Several of …