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.
40+ innovations will shape the mining industry
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the mining industry using innovation intensity models built on over 70,000 patents, there are 40+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Within the emerging innovation stage, tunnel ventilation systems, mine drainage systems, and tunnel lining construction are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Battery metal recycling, precision milling and virtual industrial monitoring are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are high performance drill bits and hybrid industrial vehicles, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for the mining industry
Tunneling and anchoring machine is a key innovation area in mining
Tunneling and anchoring machines are essential equipment used in the mining industry for various underground construction and support tasks. These machines play a crucial role in creating tunnels, shafts, and other underground structures, while ensuring the safety and stability of the excavated areas and preserving workers’ safety.
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 180 companies, spanning technology vendors, established mining companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of tunneling and anchoring machine.
Key players in tunneling and anchoring machine – a disruptive innovation in the mining 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 tunneling and anchoring machine
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Komastu and Sandvik are among the leading patent filers in tunneling and anchoring machines. Komatsu, a Japanese machinery manufacturer, and Codelco, agreed to conduct trial on a new excavation method using a new mining tunnel boring machine (TBM) developed by the former, in July 2022. In October 2023, Komatsu added 3D machine guidance and payload capabilities to crawler and wheeled excavators to improve safety, productivity, and efficiency while lowering carbon emissions in construction operations.
Another example of innovation in TBMs tunneling machines is Robbin’s MDM5000, which is the first boring machine to cut rectangular tunnels. Unlike other machines that have been developed for cutting soft material, the MDM5000 is the first to be successful in rectangular hard-rock tunnelling. Furthermore, driving a tunnel with a circular full-face TBM necessitates secondary operations to create a flat roadway, which takes time and money.
Some other key patent filers in this space include Caterpillar, Tian Di Science & Technology, Sanyhe International.
In terms of application diversity, Hyosung leads the pack, while Deere and Anglo American stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Sandvik held the top position, followed by Komatsu and Deere.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the mining industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Mining.