The construction industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by increased demand for environmentally sustainable construction and enhanced workplace safety, and growing importance of technologies such as the Internet-of-Things 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: Prefabricated modular construction.  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 is 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 

Prefabricated modular construction is a key innovation area in construction 

Prefabricated modular construction is a term used to describe the construction of buildings using building components or modules that have been manufactured elsewhere before being assembled at the desired location. A number of configurations and styles are able to be achieved through modular construction, and it allows for the construction of buildings in environments where conventional building methods are either difficult or unviable. 

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 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of prefabricated modular construction. 

Key players in prefabricated modular construction – 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 prefabricated modular construction

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Valinge Innovation 129 Unlock Company Profile
Gebr Knauf 105 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie de Saint-Gobain 105 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm Holdings 73 Unlock Company Profile
Armstrong World Industries 47 Unlock Company Profile
Aspen Aerogels 32 Unlock Company Profile
LG 24 Unlock Company Profile
Rockwool International 22 Unlock Company Profile
Liaver 21 Unlock Company Profile
CertainTeed Gypsum 19 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Chemical Group 18 Unlock Company Profile
National Gypsum Properties 16 Unlock Company Profile
Berkshire Hathaway 15 Unlock Company Profile
RAG-Stiftung 15 Unlock Company Profile
Framery 14 Unlock Company Profile
Precision Fabrics Group 14 Unlock Company Profile
Pacific Coast Building Products 14 Unlock Company Profile
Endurance RP 13 Unlock Company Profile
Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics 13 Unlock Company Profile
China State Construction Engineering 12 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 12 Unlock Company Profile
State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council 11 Unlock Company Profile
James Hardie Industries 11 Unlock Company Profile
Tenneco 11 Unlock Company Profile
Ashtech Industries 10 Unlock Company Profile
Pratt Industries 10 Unlock Company Profile
CKM Applied Materials 10 Unlock Company Profile
Yamaha 10 Unlock Company Profile
Signify 9 Unlock Company Profile
Sekisui Chemical 8 Unlock Company Profile
Dow 7 Unlock Company Profile
Hexcel 7 Unlock Company Profile
Koch Industries 7 Unlock Company Profile
FP Innovations 6 Unlock Company Profile
Standard Industries 6 Unlock Company Profile
Clarus 6 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 6 Unlock Company Profile
Kronoplus Technical 6 Unlock Company Profile
KGIC Merger 6 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 5 Unlock Company Profile
Sika 5 Unlock Company Profile
Iwasaki Electric 5 Unlock Company Profile
Mohawk Industries 5 Unlock Company Profile
Covestro 5 Unlock Company Profile
Remmers Baustofftechnik 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Leading innovators in the field of prefabricated modular construction include Gebr Knauf, a provider of building materials and construction systems. The company’s products include its GIFAfloor LBS system, a floor element for modular commercial applications with a high load-bearing capacity and a uniform floor surface. Key Gebr Knauf innovations in the prefabricated modular construction field include a building panel or building panel set, for installation on a wall or ceiling, that can be fastened using either screws or nails. Further innovations include a sound-permeable lining for acoustic plasterboards, which can be uniformly applied, and which has an overall opacity O12 to mask the perforations shaped in acoustic plasterboards that enable it to attenuate noise. 

In terms of geographic reach, leading companies in the field of prefabricated modular construction include Remmers Baustofftechnik and CKM Applied Materials. In terms of application diversity, Valinge Innovation and CertainTeed Gypsum are prominent. 

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.