The mining industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the need for improved processes and equipment to add value to their mining operations. Miners are using high performance drill bits to drill holes of various sizes for underground and open-pit mining operations. The use of mining drill bits in pipeline construction and blasting pits has grown significantly. In the last three years alone, there have been over 62,000 patents filed and granted in the mining industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in mining: high performance drill bits. 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 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

High performance drill bits is a key innovation area in mining

High performance drill bits are critical in today's modern global mining environment to increase production and efficiency in the extraction of gold, silver, and other metals and minerals. Rotary Bits, Fixed Cutter, Roller Cone, and down-the-hole (DTH) Hammers are among the many rock drilling tools and accessories used in both open-pit and underground mining. Thinning comes in a variety of shapes, including the X-shape for machining deep holes, the R-shape for machining stainless-steel-based workpieces, and the S-shape for machining cast-iron or non-ferrous-based workpieces. Flat drill bits, which can drill holes without bending even on round surfaces, have gained popularity in recent years.

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 70+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established mining companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of high performance drill bits.

Key players in high performance drill bits – 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 high performance drill bits

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Kennametal 313 Unlock Company Profile
Sandvik 233 Unlock Company Profile
Berkshire Hathaway 164 Unlock Company Profile
Kyocera 154 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Electric Industries 121 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Materials 62 Unlock Company Profile
OSG 61 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 60 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 52 Unlock Company Profile
HILTI 48 Unlock Company Profile
Stanley Black & Decker 44 Unlock Company Profile
Techtronic Industries 40 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical 38 Unlock Company Profile
Union Tool 31 Unlock Company Profile
Allied Machine & Engineering 31 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 26 Unlock Company Profile
Anglo American 22 Unlock Company Profile
Illinois Tool Works 20 Unlock Company Profile
Guehring Ohg 18 Unlock Company Profile
Korloy 17 Unlock Company Profile
Allied Machine & Engineering 16 Unlock Company Profile
MAPAL Fabrik fur Prazisionswerkzeuge Dr. Kress 14 Unlock Company Profile
Diager 12 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 12 Unlock Company Profile
Kabushiki Kaisha Miyanaga 12 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 10 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 9 Unlock Company Profile
YG-1 9 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Xinxing Tools 8 Unlock Company Profile
Tiangong International 7 Unlock Company Profile
IBIDEN 7 Unlock Company Profile
HPTec 7 Unlock Company Profile
Dentsply Sirona 7 Unlock Company Profile
Politechnika Rzeszowska Im. Ignacego Lukasiewicza 6 Unlock Company Profile
Keil Werkzeugfabrik Karl Eischeid 6 Unlock Company Profile
Fukui Prefecture 6 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 6 Unlock Company Profile
TOKO 6 Unlock Company Profile
Vestas Wind Systems 5 Unlock Company Profile
Snecma 5 Unlock Company Profile
Klenk 5 Unlock Company Profile
Zhuzhou Cemented Carbide Cutting Tools 5 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 5 Unlock Company Profile
Rolls-Royce 4 Unlock Company Profile
Shenzhen jinzhou precision technology 4 Unlock Company Profile
Eazypower 4 Unlock Company Profile
Technicut 4 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 4 Unlock Company Profile
Tera Autotech 3 Unlock Company Profile
Brain Tunnelgenix Technologies 3 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Sandvik and Kennametal are among the leading patent filers in high performance drill bits. Sandvik offers a complete range of rock tools such as DTH, top hammer, rotatory, and raise boring drilling tools, for surface and underground mining, and construction. Sandvik’s drilling bits are designed to increase productivity and sustainability, while reducing total operational cost and emissions. The company’s high-performing rotary drill bits, which are manufactured using high technology for mining blast holes, enable longer bit life and reduce costs.

Meanwhile, Kennametal provides high-performance drills such as Y-TECHTM, KenDrillTM HPS, KenDrillTM FBL, and KenDrill Deep HPR for drilling holes in steel, stainless steel, cast iron, non-ferrous and high-temp materials. Drill pits from the company are used at high-cutting parameters to reduce machining time and free up capacity in mass production environments.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the mining industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Mining.

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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.