The oil & gas industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by digitalization, data analytics, and cybersecurity, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, edge computing, and cloud computing. In the last three years alone, there have been over 523,000 patents filed and granted in the oil & gas industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Internet of Things in oil & gas: embedded controllers. 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.

60+ innovations will shape the oil & gas industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the oil & gas industry using innovation intensity models built on over 196,000 patents, there are 60+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, intelligent predictive maintenance, gas pipeline network monitoring, and smart oil & gas wells are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Oil well surveillance, embedded controllers, and FCEV fuel monitoring are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas is inspection robots, which is now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the oil & gas industry

Embedded controllers is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Embedded controllers are electronic devices that are programmed to control and monitor specific functions or processes in a larger system. They are part of a network of sensors that routine relay information for analysis. They are designed to operate within a specific context, often with limited resources, and can perform various functions such as data processing and communication.

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 oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of embedded controllers.

Key players in embedded controllers – a disruptive innovation in the oil & gas 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 embedded controllers

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Emerson Electric 40 Unlock Company Profile
Tulip Interfaces 34 Unlock Company Profile
Buhler 16 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 15 Unlock Company Profile
Schneider Electric 14 Unlock Company Profile
SICPA 12 Unlock Company Profile
AVL List 12 Unlock Company Profile
SIPCO 10 Unlock Company Profile
Yokogawa Electric 8 Unlock Company Profile
B.T.S.R. International 8 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 6 Unlock Company Profile
Siemag Weiss 6 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Tangram 5 Unlock Company Profile
ABB 4 Unlock Company Profile
Rockwell Automation 4 Unlock Company Profile 4 Unlock Company Profile
SEW-EURODRIVE 3 Unlock Company Profile
WellAware 2 Unlock Company Profile
ZTE 2 Unlock Company Profile
Fanuc 2 Unlock Company Profile
Wuhan Easylinkin Technology 1 Unlock Company Profile
Huawei 1 Unlock Company Profile
Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson 1 Unlock Company Profile
HUNT Technologies 1 Unlock Company Profile
China United Network Communications 1 Unlock Company Profile
Aviation Industry Corp of China 1 Unlock Company Profile
Avic Intelligent Measurement 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Emerson is one of the leading patent filers in embedded controllers for the oil & gas industry. It offers sensors and automation equipment, along with software support for deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) networks in oil & gas and other industry verticals. DeltaV distributed control system, one of the product solutions offered by the company, uses embedded controllers for IoT deployment. Some other key patent filers in the space include Buhler and General Electric.

In terms of application diversity, SIPCO leads the pack, while HUNT Technologies and AVL List stood in the second and third positions, respectively. SIPCO’s IoT solutions offer network robustness, low power consumption, scalability, and remote access. Its IoT technology solutions cover various wireless mesh network protocols such as ZigBee and WirelessHART.

By means of geographic reach, Tulip Interfaces held the top position, followed by Buhler and AVL List. Tulip offers a data analytics platform for industrial users through IoT deployment and resource tracking. It has the widest geographic reach among the patents filed in embedded controllers for the oil & gas industry. It widened its industry outreach in July 2023, when it became partner in the Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing solution offered by Microsoft.

Embedded controllers reduce the burden of processing on a central server and allow for greater scaling of the IoT network deployment in the field.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the oil & gas industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things in Oil & Gas.

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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.