The construction industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation, with activity being 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 425,000 patents filed and granted in the construction industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in construction: drainage flow regulators. 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 stabilizing 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 232,000 patents, there are 80+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, self-healing concrete, waterproof floor drains, and construction 3D printing are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Smart glazing, regeneration control hydraulics, and floating breakwaters are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are wall surface temperature controls and embossed floor panels, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the construction industry

Drainage flow regulators is a key innovation area in construction

Drainage flow regulators refer to devices or structures designed to control or regulate the flow of water in drainage systems, such as in stormwater management systems or wastewater treatment systems. These regulators ensure that the flow of water is controlled, preventing flooding and erosion, while also preventing the buildup of sediment in the drainage system.

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 280+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of drainage flow regulators.

Key players in drainage flow regulators – a disruptive innovation in the construction industry

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

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

Patent volumes related to drainage flow regulators

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Agilitas Partners 66 Unlock Company Profile
Xylem 33 Unlock Company Profile
ACO Severin Ahlmann 30 Unlock Company Profile
China State Construction Engineering 29 Unlock Company Profile
State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council 28 Unlock Company Profile
Orbia Advance 27 Unlock Company Profile
Berkshire Hathaway 26 Unlock Company Profile
Wuhan Shengyu Drainage System 24 Unlock Company Profile
Oldcastle Infrastructure 20 Unlock Company Profile
Pharmafilter 20 Unlock Company Profile
Uponor 16 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Koei 15 Unlock Company Profile
Purus 14 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Tunnel Engineering 12 Unlock Company Profile
Dallmer 12 Unlock Company Profile
Quikrete 12 Unlock Company Profile
Tokyo Metropolitan Sewerage Service 12 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Corporation of China 11 Unlock Company Profile
Ebara 10 Unlock Company Profile
Totetu Manufacturing 10 Unlock Company Profile
K+S 10 Unlock Company Profile
Zurn Elkay Water Solutions 10 Unlock Company Profile
Oatey 10 Unlock Company Profile
Environmental Products & Services 10 Unlock Company Profile
Rockwool International 9 Unlock Company Profile
Power Construction Corporation of China 9 Unlock Company Profile
REHAU Automotive 9 Unlock Company Profile
Funke Kunststoffe 9 Unlock Company Profile
China Railway Group 9 Unlock Company Profile
Advanced Drainage Systems 9 Unlock Company Profile
Bank of America 8 Unlock Company Profile
Kadant 8 Unlock Company Profile
New Pig 7 Unlock Company Profile
Schluter Systems 7 Unlock Company Profile
ENC 7 Unlock Company Profile
Zurn Ind 7 Unlock Company Profile
Jimten SAU 7 Unlock Company Profile
CRH 7 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Presby Patent Trust 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hauraton 5 Unlock Company Profile
Contech Construction Products 5 Unlock Company Profile
Picote 5 Unlock Company Profile
Wrekin 4 Unlock Company Profile
Suzhou Gold Mantis Construction Decoration 4 Unlock Company Profile
Wenzhou Hongchengxiang Technology 4 Unlock Company Profile
The C & C Organization 4 Unlock Company Profile
Suzhou Gold Mantis Green Landscape 4 Unlock Company Profile
Dongin 4 Unlock Company Profile
HYDROCHINA Chengdu Engineering 4 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

CRH’s subsidiary Hydro International, a manufacturer and provider of water management products, services and expertise, is a leading patent filer in drainage flow regulators. A key innovation by the company is the development of a vortex flow control device used for regulating the flow of water in drainage systems. The device induces turbulence in the region of the inlet to control the flow of water. Other innovations by the company include a stormwater gully designed to prevent flooding during high rates of flow in stormwater systems. The gully features bypass inlets that allow for the rapid discharge of water if water levels rise too high. China Construction First Building Group, a provider of engineering services and a subsidiary of China State Construction Engineering (CSCEC), is another key patent filer in this space. One of its innovations includes the development of a water-draining residue soil collecting pit used in drainage systems that contains water collecting holes and joints to pump water from the pit. This reduces the water content in residue soil, improving transportation, and disposal.

In terms of application diversity, leading innovators in the space include Rockwool International, Totetsu Manufacturing, and Kadant. By means of geographic reach, Orbia Advance held the top position, followed by Xylem and Nippon Koei.

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