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 as well as higher quality construction products and materials. 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: Hybrid electric heavy machinery.

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, green roofing is a disruptive technology that is 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

Hybrid electric heavy machinery is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

A hybrid electric heavy machine is type of heavy machine that utilises both a diesel and battery-powered engine to operate the machine. The electric engine is used to supplement the diesel engine with the aim of reducing carbon emissions, improving efficiency and reducing costs.

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 hybrid electric heavy machinery.

Key players in hybrid electric heavy machinery– 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 hybrid electric heavy machinery

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Hitachi 469 Unlock company profile
Komatsu 266 Unlock company profile
Sumitomo Heavy Industries 171 Unlock company profile
Caterpillar 132 Unlock company profile
AB Volvo 73 Unlock company profile
Kobe Steel 43 Unlock company profile
General Electric 18 Unlock company profile
KYB 17 Unlock company profile
Takeuchi 16 Unlock company profile
Deere & Co 12 Unlock company profile
Liebherr-International 11 Unlock company profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 9 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 8 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 8 Unlock company profile
Doosan 7 Unlock company profile
Renault 7 Unlock company profile
Sandvik 6 Unlock company profile
Doosan Infracore 6 Unlock company profile
Kohler 5 Unlock company profile
SNCF Group 5 Unlock company profile
Bouygues 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Hitachi is the leading filer in hybrid electric vehicle patents and is one of the world’s leading construction, mining, and forestry equipment manufacturers. Hitachi manufactures excavators, dozers, and their components such as the ZX210X-6 excavator. With a highly integrated supply chain, Hitachi has specialised in developing hybrid and electric motor capabilities. One such innovation joins a motor generator to a diesel engine, a hydraulic pump, and a lithium-ion battery which is designed to improve the efficiency of the hydraulic pump by heating the hydraulic fluid when the engine is in a state of low temperature.

In terms of application diversity, Trevi Finanziaria Industriale is among the leaders, along with Liebherr-International. By means of geographic reach, Quzhou Yanhang Machinery Technology holds the top position, followed by Casa Grande and Bauer.

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