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, hybrid and electric propulsion systems, advanced train control and signalling, and heat recycling heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) 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: Heat recycling HVAC systems.
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 one 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
Heat recycling HVAC systems is a key innovation area in Internet of Things
Heat recovery ventilation (HRV) is an energy recovery ventilation system that allows HVAC systems in trains to recycle the heating or cooling energy of exhaust air and bring in fresh air. The use of heat recycling HVAC systems helps in regulating humidity, temperature, and air quality in trains to ensure passenger comfort, while reducing greenhouse emissions and increasing energy efficiency.
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 heat recycling HVAC systems.
Key players in heat recycling HVAC systems – 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 heat recycling HVAC systems
|Company||Total patents (2010 - 2021)||Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies|
|Mitsubishi Electric||19||Unlock company profile|
|Alstom||15||Unlock company profile|
|Siemens||13||Unlock company profile|
|Bombardier||11||Unlock company profile|
|Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies||9||Unlock company profile|
|CRRC Group||7||Unlock company profile|
|Liebherr-International||6||Unlock company profile|
|Trane Technologies||6||Unlock company profile|
|CNH Industrial||5||Unlock company profile|
|Mobile Comfort Holding||5||Unlock company profile|
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Mitsubishi Electric is the leading patent filer in heat recycling HVAC systems. Its patents in this space pertain to the development of heating, cooling, ventilating and air conditioning devices, apparatus, control programmes and cleaning methods that are aimed at maximising waste heat recovery and optimising the refrigerant cycle, while reducing noise and overall power consumption.
Mitsubishi has supplied more than 150,000 rail HVAC units of various types and capacities since the 1950s. Melco Green HVAC is an advanced eco-friendly HVAC system featuring Lossnay heat recovery ventilation system, which is a balanced pressure solution patented by the company to bring in fresh filtered air, while recovering heat energy from the outgoing stale air and maximising energy efficiencies.
Other leading innovators in heat recycling HVAC systems include Alstom, Siemens, and Bombardier.
In terms of application diversity, CRRC Group leads the pack, followed by Mobile Comfort and Siemens. By geographic reach, CRRC Group is the leading company, followed by Trane Technologies and Liebherr-International.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the railway industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Railway.