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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: Scaffolding. 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 disruptive technologies that are 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

Scaffolding is a key innovation area in construction

Scaffolding is used to provide a safe and stable platform for workers to perform their tasks at height. It is a temporary structure consisting of a framework of poles, planks, and other materials erected around a building or structure to allow work to be carried out on parts of buildings that are not easily accessible.

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

Key players in scaffolding – 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 scaffolding

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
China State Construction Engineering 33 Unlock Company Profile
Layher W Verwaltungs 29 Unlock Company Profile
Air Liquide 28 Unlock Company Profile
Safway Services 19 Unlock Company Profile
TUBESCA-COMABI 19 Unlock Company Profile
Nisso Industries 13 Unlock Company Profile
PERI 12 Unlock Company Profile
Belfast Arthroplasty Research Trust 11 Unlock Company Profile
Safe Rack 10 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Dingli Machinery 9 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Construction Group 9 Unlock Company Profile
Combisafe International 9 Unlock Company Profile
State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council 8 Unlock Company Profile
Wuxi Longhaijie Machinery Manufacturing 7 Unlock Company Profile
Kee Safety 6 Unlock Company Profile
Sam Carbis Asset Management 6 Unlock Company Profile
Wilhelm Layher 6 Unlock Company Profile
Youngman Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Suzhou Gold Mantis Construction Decoration 5 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Corporation of China 5 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 5 Unlock Company Profile
MCC5 Group Shanghai 5 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Heavy Industries 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

The leading company in the scaffolding space in terms of patent filings is China State Construction Engineering. A recent innovation by the company involves the invention of a new type of safety climbing frame that includes a keel, consisting of a main body and a limiting column which is fixed to the outer wall of the building. The frame can be lifted using a mechanical lifting device and attached to the building using fixed metal rods, improving the efficiency and safety of working at height. Other leading innovators in the scaffolding space include Layher W Verwaltungs, Air Liquide, and Safway Services.

In terms of application diversity, the leading companies are Air Liquide, Belfast Arthroplasty Research Trust, and Kee Safety. In terms of geographic reach, the leading companies are Nisso Industries, Combisafe International, and Zhejiang Dingli Machinery.

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.