The railway industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for high efficiency, reduced emissions and enhanced passenger experience, and growing importance of technologies such as automation, advanced train control and signalling, and smart electrodynamic braking systems. In the last three years alone, there have been over 46,000 patents filed and granted in the railway industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Internet of Things in Railway: Electrodynamic braking system.
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 stabilising 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.
10+ innovations will shape the railway industry
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the railway industry using innovation intensity models built on over 9,000 patents, there are 10+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Loading/unloading device integrated wagons is among of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are railway traffic monitoring system and centralised train control system, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the railway industry
Electrodynamic braking system is a key innovation area in Internet of Things
Electrodynamic braking involves changing the operation of electric traction motors into the generator mode to convert the kinetic energy of a locomotive into electric power for either slowing down or stopping the train. The system allows flexible use of either rheostatic or regenerative braking methods, depending on the speed range and system requirements.
In rheostatic braking, which is used in the low-speed range, the generated electrical power is dissipated as heat in brake grid resistors. Whereas in regenerative braking, which is used in the high-speed range and in electric trains, the electricity generated in braking is fed back into the power supply line, which results in energy savings and reduced wear of mechanical brakes.
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 10 companies, spanning technology vendors, established railway companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of electrodynamic braking system.
Key players in electrodynamic braking system – a disruptive innovation in the railway industry
‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.
‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.
Patent volumes related to electrodynamic braking system
|Company||Total patents (2010 - 2021)||Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies|
|Mitsubishi Electric||39||Unlock company profile|
|Toshiba||14||Unlock company profile|
|BYD||14||Unlock company profile|
|Hitachi||12||Unlock company profile|
|Stella Vermogensverwaltungs||11||Unlock company profile|
|CRRC Group||10||Unlock company profile|
|Alstom||8||Unlock company profile|
|Superpedestrian||8||Unlock company profile|
|Bombardier||6||Unlock company profile|
|Siemens||6||Unlock company profile|
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Mitsubishi Electric is the leading patent filer in electrodynamic braking system. The company filed patents related to brake energy recovery modules, braking effect controlling methods, train information management device to detect the state of regenerative brake application, energy recycling, effective utilisation of regenerating power, and methods and apparatus for controlling the voltage of the catenary system that supplies power to the rail vehicle.
Mitsubishi Electric has been supplying rail brake systems for more than 90 years. The integrated Brake Control Unit (iBCU) provided by the company ensures high accuracy braking performance by using coefficient friction compensate control, with the brake control pressure of emergency braking controlled by mechanical variable load valve without software.
Other leading innovators in electrodynamic braking system include BYD, Toshiba, and Hitachi.
In terms of application diversity, BYD leads the pack, followed by Superpedestrian and Bombardier. By geographic reach, Superpedestrian is the leading company, followed by Siemens and Stella Vermogensverwaltungs.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the railway industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Railway.