The construction industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by a greater focus on environmental sustainability, workplace safety and circular construction, and the growing importance of technologies such as robotics, modular construction, and the Internet-of-Things (IoT). 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: Road construction milling tool.  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 wall 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 

Road construction milling tool is a key innovation area in construction 

Road construction milling tools, also known as a cold planer, are machines used to remove the top layer of concrete or asphalt pavement from a roadway, preserving the road subbase and allowing the milled road surface to be recycled for future use if possible. The milling tool produces an even base, which is ideal for the application of surface courses. 

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 road construction milling tool. 

Key players in road construction milling tool – 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 road construction milling tool

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Deere & Co 225 Unlock Company Profile
Fayat 46 Unlock Company Profile
INDUS Holding 27 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 25 Unlock Company Profile
ChampionX 17 Unlock Company Profile
Anglo American 11 Unlock Company Profile
Astec Industries 10 Unlock Company Profile
Schlumberger 10 Unlock Company Profile
Element Six 10 Unlock Company Profile
Liebherr-International 8 Unlock Company Profile
Atlas Copco 7 Unlock Company Profile
Epiroc 6 Unlock Company Profile
SKS Welding Systems 5 Unlock Company Profile
Pfannenberg Asia Pacific 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Leading innovators in the road construction milling space include Deere, a supplier of advanced products and services. Through its subsidiary Wirtgen, Deere provides cold milling machines, power feeders, slipform pavers, and road pavers. Key patents of Deere that have application in the milling of roadways include an improvement to the pivoting apparatus of a conveyor device of a self-propelled milling machine. Further innovations include the furnishing of a milling machine to allow the simple setting of machine parameters suitable for the milling task that is to be carried out, and a method for the discharging of milled material that prevents damage to the milling machine during the discharge process. 

In terms of application diversity, leading companies in the road milling tool space include SKS Welding Systems, Element Six, and INDUS Holding. By geographic reach, leading companies include Liebherr-International and Anglo American

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.