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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 Innovation in Railway: Refrigerated goods transporting wagons. 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.

Semi-trailer transporting wagons, hopper type freight cars and train marshalling systems are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are conveyor type loading vehicles and relative location monitoring, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the railway industry

Refrigerated goods transporting wagons is a key innovation area in railway

Refrigerated wagons are used to carry perishable goods such as fruits, vegetables and meat and pharma products, which are susceptible to temperature fluctuations. These wagons either come equipped with a mechanical refrigeration system or use dry ice gas as the cooling agent to allow safe transportation of refrigerated freight by rail.

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 refrigerated goods transporting wagons.

Key players in refrigerated goods transporting wagons – 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 refrigerated goods transporting wagons

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Siemens 89 Unlock Company Profile
CRRC Group 33 Unlock Company Profile
Bombardier 33 Unlock Company Profile
Alstom 32 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 28 Unlock Company Profile
Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies 10 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 10 Unlock Company Profile
Liebherr-International 6 Unlock Company Profile
Trane Technologies 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
CNH Industrial 5 Unlock Company Profile
Mobile Comfort Holding 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Siemens is the leading patent filer in refrigerated goods transporting wagons. The patents filed by the company in this space are related to methods and devices for cooling energy accumulators in rail vehicles, redundant air conditioning, cooling and ventilating systems, cold thermal energy storage, cooling air mass flow, and rail car refrigeration circuits.

Other leading innovators in refrigerated goods transporting wagons include Bombardier, CRRC Group, and Alstom.

In terms of application diversity, Mobile Comfort leads the pack, followed by Mitsubishi Electric and Liebherr-International. By geographic reach, Toshiba 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.

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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.