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. 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 slewing drive.

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 a disruptive technology that is 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 slewing drive is a key innovation area in construction

A hydraulic slew drive is a mechanical component used in heavy machinery, such as excavators and cranes, that enables rotational movement of the machine's working components. The drive is powered by hydraulic pressure, which activates an internal hydraulic motor, causing the drive to rotate. The hydraulic slew drive is typically installed between the machine's body and the rotating component, allowing the rotation to occur smoothly and precisely.

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 slewing drive.

Key players in hydraulic slewing drive – 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 slewing drive

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Kobe Steel 44 Unlock company profile
Liebherr-International 21 Unlock company profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 19 Unlock company profile
Manitowoc 18 Unlock company profile
AB Volvo 13 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 12 Unlock company profile
Sumitomo Heavy Industries 11 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 10 Unlock company profile
XCMG Construction Machinery 9 Unlock company profile
Parker Hannifin 7 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

A leading company in the hydraulic slewing drive space is Kobe Steel. A recent innovation by the company involves the use of a slewing control device that enables the system to detect breakdowns in the driving system. The device utilises a mechanical brake, which generates enough torque to prevent movement of the slewing body when an anomaly has occurred, thus, acting as a fail-safe. The innovation has potential to improve the safety of operating machinery and avoid excessive damage to the machine. Other leading companies in the space include Liebherr, Kawasaki, and Manitowoc.

In terms of application diversity, the leading companies are Liebherr, XCMG and Manitowoc, while Hitachi, Kawasaki and Parker Hannifin are the leading companies in terms of geographic reach.

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.