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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 monitoring and surveillance 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: Railway traffic monitoring system. 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 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

Railway traffic monitoring system is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Advanced railway traffic monitoring system uses wireless sensor networks and information communication technologies to track and log train movements within a network. It helps rail operators to manage train timetables and routes in an effective manner, meet the high demands of efficiency and safety, and optimise infrastructure utilisation and improve the overall railway service performance.

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 railway traffic monitoring system.

Key players in railway traffic monitoring 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 railway traffic monitoring system

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
General Electric 18 Unlock Company Profile
Bombardier 14 Unlock Company Profile
Hp3 Real 11 Unlock Company Profile
Valaris 8 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Steel 8 Unlock Company Profile
Holding SocotecS 8 Unlock Company Profile
Thales 7 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 7 Unlock Company Profile
Harsco 6 Unlock Company Profile
International Business Machines 6 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 5 Unlock Company Profile
L.B. Foster Co 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

General Electric (GE) is the leading patent filer in railway traffic monitoring system. The patents filed by the company in this space are related to aerial camera systems and method for identifying route-related hazards, onboard video systems and data communication and storage device, and optical route examination systems and methods for obstacle detection.

GE’s products that are used in railway traffic monitoring applications include, but are not limited to Lentronics optical networking telecommunications solutions, MDS industrial wireless communication systems, and the Lentronics™ advanced network management (ANM) software solutions.

Other leading innovators in railway traffic monitoring system include Bombardier, Hp3 Real, and Valaris.

In terms of application diversity, Hp3 Real leads the pack, followed by Valaris and Socotec. By geographic reach, General Electric is the leading company, followed by Holding Socotec and Nippon Steel.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the railway industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Railway.

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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.