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 Robotics in Construction: Building finishing techniques.

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, robotic water surface cleaners is a disruptive technology that is in the early stage of application and should be tracked closely. Intelligent motor controllers, building finishing techniques, and sensor-integrated door wings are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are heavy equipment monitoring systems and electric hydraulic excavators, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for robotics in the construction industry

Building finishing techniques is a key innovation area in robotics

The application of building finishes increases the lifespan of building materials by forming a protective coating on surfaces on which the materials are applied. Building finishing techniques include painting, varnishing, plastering, pointing, white and colour washing and distempering. Innovation in this space can improve the effectiveness and the efficiency of these methods, ensuring that the protective coating is as long-lasting as possible.

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of building finishing techniques.

Key players in building finishing techniques– 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 building finishing techniques

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Gebr Knauf 62 Unlock company profile
Canvas Construction 32 Unlock company profile
Sun Capital Partners 24 Unlock company profile
Graco 22 Unlock company profile
Raimondi 19 Unlock company profile
Valinge Innovation 19 Unlock company profile
Henkel 13 Unlock company profile
Saint-Gobain Adfors Canada 12 Unlock company profile
Progress Profiles 9 Unlock company profile
Country Garden Holdings 9 Unlock company profile
Phaanix 9 Unlock company profile
Simpson Manufacturing 7 Unlock company profile
Exceptional Ip Holdings 7 Unlock company profile
Valinge Innovation Belgium 7 Unlock company profile
Illinois Tool Works 6 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

A leading company in the building finishing techniques space is Knauff, which produces a range of construction materials as well as tools and machinery to apply its products. The company has a number of patent filings related to building finishing techniques, among which is a joint compound tool, which allows a user to mix joint compounds, used to form protective coatings, and apply it to a surface. Another innovation is a joint tape embedding apparatus, system and method, which allows the same user or different users to accurately repeat the determination of the bonding attributes of the joint compound, ensuring consistency of the joint compound throughout the course of a project. Some other innovators in this space include Canvas Construction, Graco and Raimondi.

In terms of application diversity, Canvas Construction is among the leading companies, along with Graco. By geographic reach, leading companies include Progress Profiles and Valinge Innovation.

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