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 Internet of Things in Construction: Autonomous worksite control machines.

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 intelligent water body cleaning are the disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Intelligent motor controllers, hydraulic actuators, and sensor-integrated door wings are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are automatic faucet and excavator monitoring systems, which are now well established in the industry.  

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the construction industry

Autonomous worksite control machines is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Autonomous vehicles such as haul trucks, dozers, excavators and load-carriers can be used to carry out worksite activities and improve health and safety standards. Smaller autonomous vehicles such as rovers can assist on-site workers by carrying tools and materials, improving the efficiency of site operations. Connectivity of autonomous worksite control machines across the site can allow for centralised control and coordinated activity.

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of autonomous worksite control machines.

Key players in autonomous worksite control machines – 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 autonomous worksite control machines

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Komatsu 385 Unlock company profile
Caterpillar 344 Unlock company profile
Deere & Co 189 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 78 Unlock company profile
Built Robotics 43 Unlock company profile
Kobe Steel 29 Unlock company profile
Husqvarna 24 Unlock company profile
Hexagon 18 Unlock company profile
Fayat 15 Unlock company profile
Doosan 14 Unlock company profile
Ackermans & Van Haaren 14 Unlock company profile
EquipmentShare.com 12 Unlock company profile
Baidu 12 Unlock company profile
Kubota 12 Unlock company profile
Israel Aerospace Industries 11 Unlock company profile
Advanced Construction Robotics 11 Unlock company profile
Siemens 11 Unlock company profile
Ammann Schweiz 10 Unlock company profile
Topcon 10 Unlock company profile
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 9 Unlock company profile
EPAM Systems 7 Unlock company profile
CNH Industrial 7 Unlock company profile
Autonomous Solutions 6 Unlock company profile
AB Volvo 6 Unlock company profile
Yanmar Holdings 6 Unlock company profile
Iseki & Co 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Fayat is one of the leading filers in autonomous worksite control machines. As a leading producer of roadbuilding equipment, it has recently filed a method for operating a self-propelled roadbuilding machine, which limits the health and safety risks to operators, while maintaining the quality of materials used in the process. The method utilises a transmitting module, through which an operator can control the components of the machine remotely, keeping a safe distance away from the harmful fumes produced during road construction. Other key patent filers in the autonomous worksite control space include Ackermans & Van Haaren, Komatsu, Caterpillar, Kubota, and Built Robotics.

In terms of application diversity, Husqvarna is among the leading companies, along with Siemens. In terms of geographic reach, Ackermans & Van Haaren and Advanced Construction Robotics are the leading companies.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the construction industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things (IoT) in 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.