The mining industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the need to enhance safety, improve productivity and control costs, and the growing importance of technologies such as automation, 3D mapping and geomodelling, robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT). These technologies can improve the success of exploration activities, reduce the environmental impact of mining, improve productivity of operational mines, and, in the case of tunnel ventilation systems, enhance both safety and efficiency. 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 Internet of Things in mining: tunnel ventilation systemsBuy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 70,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the mining industry, there are 40+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Tunnel ventilation systems is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

A tunnel ventilation system is a network of connected sensors to monitor mines and enhance operational safety and efficiency, and optimize mine productivity. Since ventilation systems are the largest consumers of power in underground mines, smart tunnel ventilation systems significantly improve miner working conditions, while also lowering mine energy consumption. Smart digital technologies are being used by companies all over the world to monitor and optimize ventilation systems and ensure a safe working environment.

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 tunnel ventilation systems.

Key players in tunnel ventilation systems – 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 tunnel ventilation systems

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
China Railway Group 79 Unlock Company Profile
State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council 33 Unlock Company Profile
China Energy Investment 32 Unlock Company Profile
Epiroc 20 Unlock Company Profile
China Communications Construction Group 14 Unlock Company Profile
Xi'An Kuoli Machanical and Electrical Technology 12 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Corporation of China 11 Unlock Company Profile
Huainan Mining Group 11 Unlock Company Profile
Jinneng Holding Group 11 Unlock Company Profile
Tian Di Science & Technology 10 Unlock Company Profile
China Railway Tunnel Survey & Design Institue 8 Unlock Company Profile
China Coal Technology 8 Unlock Company Profile
Shandong Energy Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
Shanxi Tiandi Coal Mining Machinery 7 Unlock Company Profile
Uni-President Enterprises 7 Unlock Company Profile
Yankuang Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Power Construction Corporation of China 6 Unlock Company Profile
China Railway 18th Bureau Group Tunnel Engineering 5 Unlock Company Profile
Walt Disney 5 Unlock Company Profile
Henan Energy and Chemical Industry Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Energy 5 Unlock Company Profile
China Metallurgical Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Huawei Metal Mineral Resource Efficient Recycling Utilization National Engineering Research Center 5 Unlock Company Profile
Huaibei Mining 5 Unlock Company Profile
China Railway Group 4 Unlock Company Profile
East Japan Railway 4 Unlock Company Profile
Guizhou Panjiang Refined Coal 4 Unlock Company Profile
Shandong Gold Group 4 Unlock Company Profile
Henan Inst Engineering 4 Unlock Company Profile
Sichuan Road & Bridge Group 3 Unlock Company Profile
Shandong Dongshan Xinyi Coal Mine 3 Unlock Company Profile
Changs Ascending Enterprise 3 Unlock Company Profile
China State Construction Engineering 3 Unlock Company Profile
China Railway 19Th Bureau Group Sixth Engineering 3 Unlock Company Profile
Powerchina Roadbridge Group 3 Unlock Company Profile
First Engineering Of China Railway 16Th Construction Bureau Group 3 Unlock Company Profile
Tian Di Science & Technology 3 Unlock Company Profile
Longkou Mining Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Sichuan Road And Waterway Construction Engineering 2 Unlock Company Profile
Guangdong Meiyan Jixiang Hydropower 2 Unlock Company Profile
POSCO 2 Unlock Company Profile
Chongqing Mas Sci and Tech 2 Unlock Company Profile
Nawoo Tech 2 Unlock Company Profile
China Railway 19th Bureau Group Third Engineering 2 Unlock Company Profile
Inner Mongolia Yitai Investment 2 Unlock Company Profile
Shanxi Provincial Res Inst Communications 2 Unlock Company Profile
Xi'An Zhongzhi Huize Photoelectric Technology 2 Unlock Company Profile
CRRC Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
China Communication South Road & Bridge 2 Unlock Company Profile
Anhui Hengyuan Coal-Electricity Group 2 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Epiroc, one of the leading patent filers in tunnel ventilation systems, provides a complete ventilation solution for tunnelling and underground mining operations, including system design and installation of fan stations and ducting. The company’s Serpent ventilation system is made up of highly efficient, low-noise fans and long-lasting polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-coated ventilation ducting. Advanced sensors measure carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide levels on a regular basis to determine air quality, and then automatically adjust fan speed to maintain adequate air flow and a perfectly regulated underground work environment. The smart Serpent Automatic module reduces energy consumption, while adhering to all environmental requirements and regulations.

In terms of application diversity, Epiroc leads the pack, while Walt Disney and Shandong Dongshan Xinyi Coal Mine stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Epiroc held the top position, followed by Walt Disney and Changs Ascending Enterprise.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the mining industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things (IoT) in 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.