Canadian Manufacturing

AI-based platforms transform the global water sector

Technological advancements that require minimal maintenance or human interference become key value proposition differentiators in the water sector

January 26, 2021  by CM Staff

Frost & Sullivan

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis, Digitalization Powering the Global Water Market, 2020, finds that smart sensors with advanced artificial intelligence (AI)- and machine learning (ML)-based data analytics platforms are on the rise in the global water sector as they require minimal maintenance or human interference.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the sector’s technological need following supply chain disruptions and a labor shortage during lockdowns, which adversely impacted the growth of the water market globally. Due to the pandemic, the global water market declined to US$805.31 billion in 2020 from US$947.89 billion in 2019. The market was projected to reach US$1,014.54 billion in 2020, registering an impressive growth of 7%.

“The water market could witness more high-level consolidation of data analytics platforms in the water sector. Cellular communication technologies, such as narrowband Internet of Things (NB IoT) and long-term evolution for machines (LTE-M), could become key enablers of growth penetration and digital transformation,” said Paul Hudson, Energy & Environment Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “Going forward, the product-as-a-service business model would become the most subscribed among customers for its equal risk allocation and ability to provide high value to customers.”

Hudson added: “Smart decentralized water and wastewater treatment solutions are disrupting the market significantly. Low OPEX and holistic economic sustainability have become key drivers that enable the growth of decentralized treatment systems. Value-add services and solutions such as decision and predictive intelligence, along with a smart product line and effectively leveraging e-commerce platforms, could improve customer relationships and increase loyalty. These features have gained precedence due to the pandemic.”


Despite the pandemic’s adverse impact on the global water sector, market participants can focus on the following growth prospects:

  • Hydration treatment systems market:
    • Filter-as-a-service: For price-sensitive customers, smart hydration treatment systems and solutions providers could offer the filter-as-a-service business model.
    • Flavor pack: To enhance customer relationships and brand loyalty, hydration treatment systems providers could add flavor and mineral packs as a value-add to their product line.
  • Municipal and industrial water and wastewater treatment systems market:
    • Smart operation: Market participants must embrace smart operation and AI-based virtual assistance platforms that can significantly reduce the OPEX cost of a treatment plant.
  • Irrigation systems and solutions market:
    • Investment/mergers and acquisitions (M&A): Smart irrigation solution providers should invest in research and development (R&D) or M&A to provide holistic smart irrigation solutions.
  • Bottled water hydration market:
    • Leading brands are introducing recycled PET bottles to reduce plastic waste generation. Startups are experimenting with degradable plastics and paper-based bottles. Products with sustainable packaging will be in high demand.