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 Innovation in Construction: Hydraulic drive controls. 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, mullion-transom curtain walls are the disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Heat-insulated glazing panels, drainage gully grating, and acoustic ceiling panels are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are abrasion-resistant decorative flooring and road construction milling tool, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the construction industry

Hydraulic drive controls are a key innovation area in construction

Excavators tend to use hydraulic drive control to facilitate the movement of their components through the use of hydraulic fluid power. A typical hydraulic drive control has a system of levels that direct hydraulic energy by allowing hydraulic fluid to pass through a system of valves that direct the flow of the fluid, thus converting hydraulic energy to mechanical energy which, in turn, moves the component of the excavator.

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of hydraulic drive controls.

Key players in hydraulic drive controls – 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 hydraulic drive controls

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Komatsu 182 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 80 Unlock Company Profile
AB Volvo 52 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 43 Unlock Company Profile
Eaton 35 Unlock Company Profile
Liebherr-International 25 Unlock Company Profile
Dana 15 Unlock Company Profile
Kubota 15 Unlock Company Profile
Doosan 13 Unlock Company Profile
Doosan Infracore 12 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 11 Unlock Company Profile
Deere & Co 11 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 8 Unlock Company Profile
CNH Industrial 7 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Heavy Industries 7 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Komatsu is the leading filer in hydraulic drive control. The company is one of the world’s leading construction, mining, forestry, and military equipment manufacturers. Komatsu primarily manufactures excavators and dozers such as the D61i-24 dozer. The company has a highly integrated supply chain and manufactures components in-house causing a high degree of innovation in hydraulic drive control systems. One noteworthy patent uses a hydrostatic continuously variable transmission to prevent a load of materials falling from the excavator bucket when there is a gear shift shock.

In terms of application diversity, the leading companies are Caterpillar , Eaton and Liebherr-International. The leading companies in terms of geographic reach are Liebherr-International and Eaton. 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.