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: excavator auxiliary devices. 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

Excavator auxiliary devices is a key innovation area in construction

Excavator auxiliary devices refer to equipment that can be attached to an excavator or other construction machines to enhance their functionality and increase their versatility. These devices are usually detachable and can be connected to the machine's boom or arm to facilitate various tasks such as digging, grading, demolition, lifting, and loading.

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 140 companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of excavator auxiliary devices.

Key players in excavator auxiliary devices – 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 excavator auxiliary devices

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Komatsu 1107 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 613 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 310 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Heavy Industries 286 Unlock Company Profile
Harnischfeger Technologies 246 Unlock Company Profile
Deere 229 Unlock Company Profile
Kobe Steel 139 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsui Chemicals 111 Unlock Company Profile
Doosan 79 Unlock Company Profile
Carl Bennet 78 Unlock Company Profile
AB Volvo 68 Unlock Company Profile
J C Bamford Excavators 66 Unlock Company Profile
ALLU Finland 53 Unlock Company Profile
SSAB 52 Unlock Company Profile
Kubota 50 Unlock Company Profile
The Weir Group 49 Unlock Company Profile
Guangxi Liugong Machinery 37 Unlock Company Profile
Built Robotics 37 Unlock Company Profile
Daemo Engineering 35 Unlock Company Profile
Toro 29 Unlock Company Profile
Lifco 27 Unlock Company Profile
Steelwrist 24 Unlock Company Profile
Trimble 23 Unlock Company Profile
Husqvarna 22 Unlock Company Profile
Austin Engineering 22 Unlock Company Profile
CNH Industrial 22 Unlock Company Profile
Hexagon 19 Unlock Company Profile
Topcon 18 Unlock Company Profile
CR 18 Unlock Company Profile
Marsh & McLennan Companies 18 Unlock Company Profile
OilQuick 17 Unlock Company Profile
DAEDONG ENGINEERING 17 Unlock Company Profile
Doosan Bobcat 16 Unlock Company Profile
Sandvik 16 Unlock Company Profile
Liebherr-International 16 Unlock Company Profile
EVERDIGM 15 Unlock Company Profile
Sany Group 15 Unlock Company Profile
XCMG Construction Machinery 15 Unlock Company Profile
Stanley Black & Decker 11 Unlock Company Profile
YANMAR POWER TECHNOLOGY 11 Unlock Company Profile
Black Cat Blades 11 Unlock Company Profile
JB Attachments 11 Unlock Company Profile
KANGTO HEAVY INDUSTRIAL 10 Unlock Company Profile
Ihc Holland Ie 8 Unlock Company Profile
Doosan Infracore 8 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 8 Unlock Company Profile
Hill Engineering 7 Unlock Company Profile
Sany Heavy Industry 7 Unlock Company Profile
Rio Tinto 7 Unlock Company Profile
Daeho 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

One of the leading companies in the development of excavator auxiliary devices is Volvo’s subsidiary Volvo Construction Equipment (CE), a manufacturer and provider of construction equipment. Key Volvo CE innovations include the development of an adapter coupling structure for a bucket of a construction machine such as an excavator. The adapter and the bucket's attack plate are connected using an insert groove and a plate fixing part to improve their coupling strength and extend the device's lifespan. Further Volvo CE innovations include an automatic grading system for construction machines such as excavators. The system uses angle detection sensors to measure the angle of the boom and arm to achieve accurate grading and leveling of the site.

In terms of application diversity, ALLU Finland leads the pack, while Built Robotics and Hexagon stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Built Robotics held the top position, followed by Mitsui Chemicals and The Weir Group.

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.