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 robotics, the Internet of Things and circular construction. 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: Mullion-transom curtain walls. 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 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

Mullion-transom curtain walls are a key innovation area in construction

A mullion-transom curtain wall is a type of non-structural cladding system used in modern building construction. It consists of a series of vertical and horizontal framing members (mullions and transoms) that support the glass or other infill panels of the wall. Mullion-transom curtain walls are commonly used in commercial and high-rise buildings because they provide a lightweight and efficient method of enclosing large areas with a seamless and modern aesthetic. They can also be designed to provide high thermal performance, allowing for energy-efficient buildings.

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 mullion-transom curtain walls.

Key players in mullion-transom curtain walls – 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 mullion-transom curtain walls

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
California Expanded Metal Products Company 105 Unlock Company Profile
Gebr Knauf 40 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie de Saint-Gobain 34 Unlock Company Profile
Hadley Industries 12 Unlock Company Profile
DIRTT 11 Unlock Company Profile
Suzhou Gold Mantis Construction Decoration 11 Unlock Company Profile
LG 11 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Construction Group 9 Unlock Company Profile
Otto Fuchs 8 Unlock Company Profile
State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council 5 Unlock Company Profile
China State Construction Engineering 5 Unlock Company Profile
Lindab International 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Leading companies in the development of mullion-transom curtain walls include California Expanded Metal Products (CEMCO), a designer and manufacturer of steel framing and speciality products. Key patents by CEMCO in the space include a fire-rated receiver channel that includes at least one intumescent or other fire-resistant material strip. The receiver channel can nest with a framing member, such as metal tracks, headers, header tracks, sill plates, bottom tracks, metal studs, wood studs or wall partitions, and placed at a perimeter of a wall assembly to create a fire block arrangement.

Gebr Knauf, a manufacturer of construction materials for interior design, is also a leading innovator in the space. Key patents by Gebr Knauf include a method for the production of a fastening element for dry construction elements involving feeding a flat sheet metal material through a nip formed between a top roller having first teeth and a bottom roller having second teeth, in order to create depressions and elevations as well as slanted sliding surfaces.

In terms of geographic reach, leading companies in the development of mullion-transom curtain walls include Hadley Industries, a provider of advanced cold rolled steel technology solutions, and Lindab International, a manufacturer and distributor of system solutions for construction and indoor climate.

In terms of application diversity, leading companies in the space include Hadley Industries, Gebr Kanuf, and Lindab International.

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.