Before we go any further on PEMS, it’s time to get “deep”.  So, let’s start by asking three simple questions.

Question one:

Q: “Why are products and services invented, developed, and sold in the first place?”

 A: “To solve a problem”

A second question:

Q: “What happens when the problem is solved or goes away?”

A: “The products and services go away.”

A third question:

Q: “What if the problem takes a long time to go away?”

A: “Innovation ultimately forces its way in to increase value and/or reduce costs.”

It is important, then, to acknowledge that every product and service has a lifecycle, as do companies.

Part of what drives the lifecycle of products and services has been covered in “The Innovator’s Dilemma” (Christensen 1997) where two distinct categories have been identified:

Sustaining Innovation: making better products that can be sold for more money to attractive customers (incumbents almost always prevail)

Disruptive Innovation: commercialize a simpler, more convenient product that sells for less money and appeals to a new or unattractive customer set—the entrants are likely to beat the incumbents. This is the phenomenon that so frequently defeats successful companies. It implies, of course, that the best way for upstarts to attack established competitors is to disrupt them. (Low end disruption and New market disruption).







Now, I am not implying that this will happen in the PEMS market as iPEMS (smaller, lighter, less expensive “integrated” PEMS) become more widely available.  There will certainly continue to be a demand for the larger “portable laboratory” and multi-purposed “Part 1065” PEMS.  However, increasingly limited resources appear to be a significant – and critically important – factor that are now dictating how decision-makers proceed.

If we examine the current global challenges facing us, it certainly seems as if our available equipment is only providing a fraction of the data that is required to solve problems on a global scale.

Yet further indications point to the fact that the PEMS market in the US has significantly dried up, at a time when North American, South American, Asian, and European cities are all struggling to reduce criteria pollutants from mobile sources.   Why is this?  A simple conclusion: the US market can no longer sustain the cost(s) of traditional PEMS equipment.  If this is true (mind you, this is still opinion) then this spells trouble for traditional PEMS equipment throughout the rest of the world.

But a disruptive technological innovation could help decision makers and scientists.

Market and industry indications seem to point out a significant dearth in both qualitative and quantitative data. Which means that there may be a significant pent-up demand for the right equipment.  And this is so, precisely because – globally – problems have yet to be solved due to the lack of proper equipment.

So, while original equipment manufacturers and governmental regulators will continue to rely on the 1065 standard for certifications of (mostly) new equipment – a whole new market is evolving.

And a whole new series of products are being innovated to solve the problems that seem to be taking a long time to go away.


Dave Miller