The construction industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is 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 Internet of Things in construction: smart waterproofing. 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, robotic excavators, self-cleaning toilets, and smart waterproofing are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Sensor-integrated doors, eco-friendly HVACs, and automated slurry-blast tools are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas is work vehicle cruise control, which is now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the construction industry

Smart waterproofing is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Smart waterproofing refers to the use of advanced technologies and innovative methods to enhance the waterproofing performance of structures. It involves the integration of various materials, techniques, and systems to prevent water penetration, leakage, and damage in buildings and infrastructure. Smart waterproofing solutions leverage automation, sensors, data analysis, and real-time monitoring to improve the effectiveness, durability, and maintenance of waterproofing systems.

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 280 companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of smart waterproofing.

Key players in smart waterproofing – 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 smart waterproofing

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
China State Construction Engineering 271 Unlock Company Profile
State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council 203 Unlock Company Profile
China Railway Group 179 Unlock Company Profile
China Communications Construction Group 69 Unlock Company Profile
Metallurgical Corporation of China 52 Unlock Company Profile
China MCC20 Group 40 Unlock Company Profile
Power Construction Corporation of China 33 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Construction Group 32 Unlock Company Profile
China Railway Design 31 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Oriental Yuhong Waterproof Technology 24 Unlock Company Profile
China MCC5 Group 21 Unlock Company Profile
China Railway Group 20 Unlock Company Profile
Suzhou Duogu Engineering Design 17 Unlock Company Profile
Guangzhou Metro Group 16 Unlock Company Profile
The First Company of China Eighth Engineering Bureau 14 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Ershiye Construction 14 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Johnson Architectural & Engineering Design Consultants 13 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Municipal Construction Group 12 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Oriental Rainbow Waterproof Engineering 12 Unlock Company Profile
Trelleborg 11 Unlock Company Profile
Baishan Zhongtian Development Group 11 Unlock Company Profile
3rd Construction Construction 8th Engineering Division 11 Unlock Company Profile
Shenzhen Construction Engineering Group 10 Unlock Company Profile
The Second Construction of China Construction Eighth Engineering Division 10 Unlock Company Profile
China Construction Third Engineering Bureau Group 9 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Tunnel Engineering 9 Unlock Company Profile
MCC5 Group Shanghai 9 Unlock Company Profile
Sika 9 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Yuanfang Groundwork Engineering 8 Unlock Company Profile
Chongqing Construction Residential Engineering 7 Unlock Company Profile
China Metallurgical Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
Shanxi Industrial Equipment Installation Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
Ccfeb Civil Engineering 7 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Tunnel Engineering 7 Unlock Company Profile
Chongqing Construction Engineering Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
No2 Engineering of Cccc First Harbor Engineering 7 Unlock Company Profile
China Railway First Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
HYDROCHINA Chengdu Engineering 7 Unlock Company Profile
Erchu Co Ltd Of China Railway Tunnel Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Urban Construction Design & Development Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Anhui Construction Engineering Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Corporation of China 6 Unlock Company Profile
Guotsing 6 Unlock Company Profile
China Railway 16 Bureau Group Beijing Metro Engineering Construction 6 Unlock Company Profile
Zhongru Investment 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hengshui Yitong Pipe Industry 6 Unlock Company Profile
Cscec City Construction Development 6 Unlock Company Profile
Shougang Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
China Energy Engineering Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Sinohydro Engineering Bureau 4 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

One of the leading companies in the development of smart waterproofing solutions is Anhui Construction Engineering Group (ACEG), a general construction engineering contractor. ACEG’s key innovations include the construction of a floor and exterior wall attachment structure using a contrary sequence method. The structure prevents underground water from entering the basement by using bulge-structures and grooves on the floor and exterior walls, providing a basis for waterproof design. Further innovators in the space include Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG), a construction contractor and provider of property management and engineering services. Key BUCG smart waterproofing developments include a continuous underground wall structure that reduces costs and effectively prevents water seepage. It achieves this by using diaphragm walls and concrete cylinder structures arranged side by side, below and above the rock stratum.

In terms of application diversity, leading innovators in the development of smart waterproofing include Suzhou Duogu Engineering Design, Trelleborg and China Railway Group. By means of geographic reach, Trelleborg held the top position, followed by Sika and Suzhou Duogu Engineering Design.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the construction industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things (IoT) in 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.