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: Concrete recycled filler material.  Buy the report here.

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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 

Concrete recycled filler material is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability 

With the increased focus on sustainable materials and practices in the construction industry, materials manufacturers are seeking ways to reduce carbon-intense polluting materials. Given that the worldwide cement industry is responsible for between 4% and 8% of global CO2 emissions, a key area of innovation has been in developing replacements for primary raw materials in the production of cement and concrete. Recycled filler materials that are processed from waste are being increasingly used. 

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 concrete recycled filler material. 

Key players in concrete recycled filler material – 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 concrete recycled filler material

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Halliburton 43 Unlock Company Profile
Holcim 36 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Osaka Cement 36 Unlock Company Profile
Omya International 29 Unlock Company Profile
Yara International 21 Unlock Company Profile
Active Minerals International 20 Unlock Company Profile
Ruredil 18 Unlock Company Profile
James Hardie Industries 17 Unlock Company Profile
GCP Applied Technologies 17 Unlock Company Profile
Gebr Knauf 15 Unlock Company Profile
POSCO Holdings 11 Unlock Company Profile
Dow 11 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 10 Unlock Company Profile
Tauw 10 Unlock Company Profile
Boral 9 Unlock Company Profile
Taiheiyo Cement 9 Unlock Company Profile
CEMEX SAB de CV 9 Unlock Company Profile
Vulcan Materials 8 Unlock Company Profile
HeidelbergCement 7 Unlock Company Profile
TransferTech Sherbrooke (formerly SOCPRA sciences et genie S.E.C.) 7 Unlock Company Profile
Taisei 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Holcim is among the leading filers of concrete recycled filler materials. The company reported that it recycled 54 million tonnes of materials in 2021, and, in June 2022, it reported that it had produced the world’s first clinker made entirely of recycled minerals. It used recycled materials, ranging from wood ash to waste from mineral processing, in the production of the clinker. Sumitomo Osaka Cement is also a leading filer. In 2021, the company became eligible for the Development Bank of Japan’s Environmental Rating loan programme owing to its business strategy targeting the promotion of energy saving, waste recycling and greenhouse emission reduction. Some other key patent filers in the concrete recycled filler materials industry include Halliburton and Omya International. 

In terms of application diversity, James Hardy is among the leaders in the pack, along with Tauw. By means of geographic reach, Active Minerals International held the top position, followed by Yara International

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

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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.