The technology industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation. Activity is driven by the increasing demand for automation, the need for efficient resource management, and the rise of Industry 4.0 initiatives, as well as growing importance of technologies such as industrial Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and advanced data analytics. These technologies enable efficient data collection, seamless connectivity, predictive maintenance, intelligent decision-making, and adaptive production capabilities, revolutionising the manufacturing landscape and driving the growth of cloud-based smart factory systems. In the last three years alone, there have been over 3.6 million patents filed and granted in the technology industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Cloud: Smart factory systems. Buy the report here.

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 2.5 million patents to analyse innovation intensity for the technology industry, there are 300+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Smart factory systems is a key innovation area in cloud

Smart factory systems are advanced production systems that combine operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) to facilitate streamlined and productive manufacturing processes. These systems leverage technologies such as automation, robotics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to enable real-time monitoring and process optimisation. By integrating data and utilising analytics, smart factory systems enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness, revolutionising the manufacturing industry.

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 360+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established technology companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of smart factory systems.

Key players in smart factory systems – a disruptive innovation in the technology industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to smart factory systems

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
State Grid 498 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 392 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 351 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 283 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 251 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Heavy Industries 205 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 197 Unlock Company Profile
Emerson Electric 150 Unlock Company Profile
Furukawa 148 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 133 Unlock Company Profile
China Southern Power Grid 122 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 118 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 112 Unlock Company Profile
Yokogawa Electric 110 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 107 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 90 Unlock Company Profile
Omron Tateisi Electronics 88 Unlock Company Profile
Rockwell Automation 81 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 76 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Development Bank 74 Unlock Company Profile
Gree Electric Appliances 72 Unlock Company Profile
LG 67 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Heavy Industries 61 Unlock Company Profile
Japan Wool Textile 61 Unlock Company Profile
ABB 59 Unlock Company Profile
Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust 58 Unlock Company Profile
Fanuc 57 Unlock Company Profile
Schneider Electric 57 Unlock Company Profile
China Petrochemical 52 Unlock Company Profile
International Business Machines (IBM) 52 Unlock Company Profile
Dell Technologies 51 Unlock Company Profile
China Tobacco International 48 Unlock Company Profile
China Tobacco Yunnan Industrial 47 Unlock Company Profile
EssilorLuxottica 47 Unlock Company Profile
POSCO 46 Unlock Company Profile
NIKE 46 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 42 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm 42 Unlock Company Profile
Omron 41 Unlock Company Profile
Gebr Knauf 41 Unlock Company Profile
Hon Hai Precision Industry 40 Unlock Company Profile
Inspur Electronic Information Industry 39 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 38 Unlock Company Profile 38 Unlock Company Profile
Aviation Industry 37 Unlock Company Profile
Safran 37 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Information and Telecommunication 35 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba Mitsubishi-Electric Industrial Systems 34 Unlock Company Profile
Reactive Technologies 33 Unlock Company Profile
China State Shipbuilding 32 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

State Grid Corporation of China is one of the leading patent filers in smart factory systems. The company’s patents are aimed at invention related to a power demand side management platform comprising five sub layers that include a data source layer, a network layer, a data layer, a support layer, and an application layer.

According to the invention, services such as power information monitoring analysis, energy application service, demand side management information issuing and the like can be provided for government users, power grid companies, energy application users and social users, and availability and application performance of a 7*24-hour system can be realised.

The system can timely discover a fault phenomenon and provide an early warning. It can also perform fault cause auxiliary analysis and provide automatic fault processing capability, reducing  operation costs, shortening the problem solving time, improving user satisfaction, and ensuring safe, stable and highly efficient operation of each service system.

Other prominent patent filers in the space include Siemens and Hitachi

By geographic reach, Thomson Reuters Global Resources leads the pack, followed by THORLABS and Reactive Technologies. In terms of application diversity, Intel holds the top position, followed by Precitec Optronic and Alphabet.  

Smart factory systems have brought about transformative changes in industrial manufacturing. By leveraging cloud computing, smart factory systems can seamlessly integrate data from various devices, machines, and sensors, enabling real-time monitoring, analysis, and optimisation of production processes. This cloud-based approach offers numerous benefits, including enhanced flexibility, scalability, and remote accessibility, as well as improved operational efficiency and cost savings.

To further understand how cloud is disrupting the technology industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Cloud Computing – Thematic Intelligence.

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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.