The construction industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by an increased focus on environmental sustainability and workplace safety, and the growing importance of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics. In the last three years alone, there have been over 248,000 patents filed and granted in the construction industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environmental Sustainability in Construction: Artificial concrete aggregates.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

80+ innovations will shape the construction industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the construction industry using innovation intensity models built on over 179,000 patents, there are 80+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, smart toilets and green roofing are the disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. HAWT wind turbines, environmental barrier coatings, and vacuum-insulated glazing are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are hybrid electric heavy machinery and energy-efficient HVAC system, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the construction industry

Artificial concrete aggregates is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

The impact of the built environment on the planet is huge, with the worldwide cement industry responsible for between 4% and 8% of global CO2 emissions. To minimise negative environmental impacts, companies must design out carbon-intensive and polluting materials. Artificial aggregates mainly comprise waste materials and by-products of industrial processes such as clinkers and ash. With the depletion of natural resources, there is a growing focus on artificial aggregates, but challenges remain in overcoming limitations in strength and performance.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 80+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of artificial concrete aggregates.

Key players in artificial concrete aggregates – a disruptive innovation in the construction industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to artificial concrete aggregates

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Halliburton 202 Unlock company profile
Gebr Knauf 190 Unlock company profile
Holcim 85 Unlock company profile
Taiheiyo Cement 70 Unlock company profile
Sumitomo Osaka Cement 67 Unlock company profile
Compagnie de Saint-Gobain 49 Unlock company profile
Schlumberger 49 Unlock company profile
Nichiha 45 Unlock company profile
BASF 44 Unlock company profile
POSCO Holdings 41 Unlock company profile
Omya International 40 Unlock company profile
HeidelbergCement 35 Unlock company profile
James Hardie Industries 35 Unlock company profile
ShreddedTire 32 Unlock company profile
Geopolymer Solutions 29 Unlock company profile
Sumitomo Mitsui Construction 27 Unlock company profile
Albemarle 26 Unlock company profile
Boral 25 Unlock company profile
CelluComp 24 Unlock company profile
China State Construction Engineering 21 Unlock company profile
Yara International 21 Unlock company profile
Sika 21 Unlock company profile
Weyerhaeuser 21 Unlock company profile
State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council 20 Unlock company profile
Kemira 18 Unlock company profile
Ruredil 18 Unlock company profile
Far Eastone Telecommunications 17 Unlock company profile
Denka 17 Unlock company profile
Paper Excellence 17 Unlock company profile
Berkshire Hathaway 15 Unlock company profile
Daewoo Engineering & Construction 15 Unlock company profile
Active Minerals International 15 Unlock company profile
JFE Holdings 15 Unlock company profile
Criaterra Innovations 14 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 14 Unlock company profile
Mitsui E&S Holdings 14 Unlock company profile
CEA 14 Unlock company profile
Etex 13 Unlock company profile
Adaptavate 13 Unlock company profile
Solvay 13 Unlock company profile
Dow 13 Unlock company profile
Hanil Cement 12 Unlock company profile
Samsung C&T 12 Unlock company profile
Parjointco 11 Unlock company profile
China Communications Construction Group 10 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Materials 10 Unlock company profile
Hatch 10 Unlock company profile
UPM-Kymmene 10 Unlock company profile
Japan Science and Technology Agency 10 Unlock company profile
Pavimentos De Tudela 10 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Knauff is one of the leading filers in artificial concrete aggregates. The company, which is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of construction materials, has filed a method of making a lightweight cementitious binder composition with improved compressive strength for products such as cementitious panels. The method mixes fly ash, alkali metal salt of citric acid, alkali metal silicate, foaming agent for entraining air, water and in the preferred embodiment a foam stabilising agent. Other key patent filers in the artificial concrete aggregates space include Halliburton, Holcim, Taiheiyo Cement, Sumitomo Osaka Cement, and Compagnie de Saint-Gobain.

In terms of application diversity, CelluComp is among the leaders in the pack, along with Shredded Tire. By means of geographic reach, Solvay held the top position, followed by Etex and Yara International.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the construction industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research reports on Construction.

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.