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: floating breakwaters. 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

Floating breakwaters is a key innovation area in construction

Floating breakwaters refer to a type of water barrier that is designed to reduce wave energy and protect a shoreline or harbor. These breakwaters can be composed of materials such as concrete, metal, or plastic and can float either on the water's surface or be anchored to the sea floor. Floating breakwaters work by absorbing wave energy and reducing the height and force of waves before they reach the shore.

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 80+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of floating breakwaters.

Key players in floating breakwaters – 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 floating breakwaters

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
China Communications Construction Group 39 Unlock Company Profile
Royal BAM Group 19 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung C&T 16 Unlock Company Profile
Ackermans & Van Haaren 15 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi Zosen 14 Unlock Company Profile
HALO Maritime Defense Systems 11 Unlock Company Profile
Temasek 11 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Heavy Industries 10 Unlock Company Profile
Neo Tech 10 Unlock Company Profile
The U.S. government 8 Unlock Company Profile
Heiwado 8 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Development Bank 6 Unlock Company Profile
X Development 6 Unlock Company Profile
KYB 5 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Port Engineering 5 Unlock Company Profile
POSCO 5 Unlock Company Profile
Port and Free Zone World FZE 5 Unlock Company Profile
Steel Flower 5 Unlock Company Profile
HD Hyundai 5 Unlock Company Profile
Sekwang Engineering Consultants 5 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Electric Power 5 Unlock Company Profile
JFE 5 Unlock Company Profile
Formosa Plastics Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
AW-Energy 4 Unlock Company Profile
U.S. Department of Defence 4 Unlock Company Profile
Dong Myeong Engineering Consultants & Architecture 4 Unlock Company Profile
The Chugoku Electric Power 4 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Engineering & Construction 4 Unlock Company Profile
Maeda 4 Unlock Company Profile
Fudo Tetra 4 Unlock Company Profile
Guangzhou Harbor Engineering Quality Examination 4 Unlock Company Profile
Penta-Ocean Construction 3 Unlock Company Profile
Seoyeong Engineering 3 Unlock Company Profile
Taesung Construction 3 Unlock Company Profile
Actividades de Construccion y Servicios 3 Unlock Company Profile
China Shipbuilding NDRI Engineering 3 Unlock Company Profile
Nikken Kogaku 3 Unlock Company Profile
Jungheung Construction 2 Unlock Company Profile
Cccc Wuhan Harbour Eng Design & Res Inst 2 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Waterway Engineering Design & Consulting 2 Unlock Company Profile
Sinohydro Bureau 8 2 Unlock Company Profile
Uni-President China 2 Unlock Company Profile
MM Bridge 2 Unlock Company Profile
China Energy Engineering Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 2 Unlock Company Profile
Central Insights 2 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 2 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Steel 2 Unlock Company Profile
Kobe Steel 2 Unlock Company Profile
Power Construction Corporation of China 2 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

One of the leading patent filers in floating breakwaters is DEME’s subsidiary Dredging International, a provider of dredging and marine engineering services. A key innovation of Dredging International include the development of a method for constructing a water barrier using a core of quarry run arranged on the underwater bottom and provided with a protective layer of stones or concrete blocks. The method is suitable for constructing a water barrier for relatively deep water. Further innovators in the space include Samsung C&T, a provider of building, civil infrastructure, urban development, plant, and housing construction services. A key innovation of Samsung C&T is the development of a wave-dissipating block with improved performance and strength of leg portions, while maintaining installation-related stability and a high porosity. The block comprises a body portion and three leg portions arranged around the body portion. Each leg portion has a lower leg portion that extends from the body portion downwards and outwards, and an upper leg portion that extends from the body portion in the upward direction.

In terms of application diversity, JFE Holdings leads the pack, while Kawasaki Heavy Industries and HD Hyundai stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, HALO Maritime Defense Systems held the top position, followed by Ackermans & Van Haaren and JFE Holdings.

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.