The mining industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Hybrid industrial vehicle drives reduce fuel consumption, reduce the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere, and assist operations in cost control. 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: hybrid industrial vehicles. 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

Hybrid industrial vehicles is a key innovation area in mining

Hybrid industrial vehicles are specialized vehicles that combine traditional internal combustion engines (usually diesel) with electric power systems. These vehicles are designed to improve fuel efficiency, reduce emissions, and enhance the overall sustainability of mining operations.

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 mining companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of hybrid industrial vehicles.

Key players in hybrid industrial vehicles – 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 hybrid industrial vehicles

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Hitachi 524 Unlock Company Profile
Komatsu 291 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Heavy Industries 278 Unlock Company Profile
Kobe Steel 116 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 71 Unlock Company Profile
AB Volvo 55 Unlock Company Profile
Liebherr-International 40 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 38 Unlock Company Profile
Takeuchi Mfg. 36 Unlock Company Profile
Deere 22 Unlock Company Profile
YANMAR POWER TECHNOLOGY 19 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 18 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 17 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 16 Unlock Company Profile
KYB 16 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 13 Unlock Company Profile
Dana 12 Unlock Company Profile
Yanmar (Tokyo Office) 11 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 11 Unlock Company Profile
J C Bamford Excavators 11 Unlock Company Profile
Guangxi Liugong Machinery 11 Unlock Company Profile
Sandvik 10 Unlock Company Profile
Doosan Infracore 10 Unlock Company Profile
CNH Industrial 9 Unlock Company Profile
Kubota 9 Unlock Company Profile
Carl Bennet 8 Unlock Company Profile
Cunningham John 7 Unlock Company Profile
Doosan 7 Unlock Company Profile
Manitou BF 6 Unlock Company Profile
Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies 5 Unlock Company Profile
Cargotec 4 Unlock Company Profile
Huddig 4 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 4 Unlock Company Profile
Bauer 3 Unlock Company Profile
Wacker Neuson 3 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 3 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Huaxing Digital Technology 2 Unlock Company Profile
Nagano Industry 1 Unlock Company Profile
Sany Heavy Industry 1 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering 1 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Industries 1 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 1 Unlock Company Profile
Danfoss 1 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 1 Unlock Company Profile
Audineau 1 Unlock Company Profile
Sany Group 1 Unlock Company Profile
Kovaco Electric 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Hitachi and Komatsu are among the leading patent filers in in hybrid industrial vehicles. Hitachi Hydraulic Excavators are used to excavate and transport minerals in open-pit mines. Rigid dump trucks are used to transport resources excavated at large-scale mines. Among these, the EH5000AC-3 has one of Japan's largest loading capacities.

Komatsu's hybrid electrical system consists of an electric generator motor, an electric swing motor generator, and an Ultra Capacitor with inverter. The electric swing motor-generator in Komatsu's unique hybrid system captures and regenerates energy as the upper structure slows down and converts it into electric energy. The regenerated energy is stored in the capacitor and can be used to swing or by the generator-motor to accelerate the engine. As a result, the hybrid system reduces fuel consumption significantly. Meanwhile, the Komatsu Hybrid excavator HB365LC-3 incorporates a slew of novel features, including the integration of its powertrain with the Hybrid electrical system, which results in significant reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

In terms of application diversity, Kawasaki Heavy Industries leads the pack, while Cunningham John and Kubota stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Liebherr-International held the top position, followed by Dana and Sumitomo Heavy Industries.

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.