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: Cold-formed steel. 

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 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 

Cold-formed steel is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability 

Cold-formed steel is widely used in the construction industry. Cold-formed steel structures, which are formed at ambient room temperatures, offer lightweight and versatile solutions for building and construction. Typical forms include corrugated steel roofs, and steel wall panels and studs. 

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 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of cold-formed steel. 

Key players in cold-formed steel– 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 cold-formed steel

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Patco 80 Unlock company profile
Protektorwerk Florenz Maisch 37 Unlock company profile
California Expanded Metal Products Company 23 Unlock company profile
Vallourec 23 Unlock company profile
Eaton 21 Unlock company profile
Vestas Wind Systems 15 Unlock company profile
Fortress Iron 14 Unlock company profile
Nucor 13 Unlock company profile
PERI 13 Unlock company profile
Konecranes 12 Unlock company profile
HNTB 12 Unlock company profile
HILTI 12 Unlock company profile
Keystone Lintels 11 Unlock company profile
Safway Services 10 Unlock company profile
Simpson Manufacturing 10 Unlock company profile
J van Walraven Holding 9 Unlock company profile
Schindler Holding 8 Unlock company profile
Gebr Knauf 7 Unlock company profile
3G Capital 7 Unlock company profile
Boeing 7 Unlock company profile
General Electric 7 Unlock company profile
Les Enceintes Acoustiques Unisson 6 Unlock company profile
Just Biofiber Structural Solutions 6 Unlock company profile
Magna International 6 Unlock company profile
BlueScope Steel 6 Unlock company profile
Voestalpine 6 Unlock company profile
ArianeGroup 6 Unlock company profile
Intersystems International 6 Unlock company profile
Pluseight Technology 6 Unlock company profile
Bailey Metal Products 5 Unlock company profile
WholeTrees 5 Unlock company profile
Global Truss America 5 Unlock company profile
Kunshan Ecological Building Technology 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Protektorwerk Florenz Maisch is among the leading patent filers in cold-formed steel. The company offers MAXI-TEC, a sustainable steel partition range of profiles. Other leaders include France's Vallourec and California Expanded Metal Products Company (CEMCO), which offers a broad range of cold-formed steel framing products for both the commercial and residential construction markets. In October 2022, JFE Shoji America completed the acquisition of CEMCO. 

In terms of application diversity, Nucorb is among the leaders in the pack, with the company being the largest steel producer in the US. By means of geographic reach, J van Walraven held the top position. 

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.