Research and innovation in internet of things (IoT) in the mining industry operations and technologies sector has declined in the last quarter – but remains higher than it was a year ago.

The most recent figures show that the number of IoT patent applications in the industry stood at 18 in the three months ending December – up from 17 over the same period in 2020.

Figures for patent grants related to IoT followed a different pattern to filings – shrinking from 14 in the three months ending December 2020 to eight last year.

The figures are compiled by GlobalData, which tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Using textual analysis, as well as official patent classifications, these patents are grouped into key thematic areas, and linked to key companies across various industries.

IoT is one of the key areas tracked by GlobalData. It has been identified as being a key disruptive force facing companies in the coming years, and is one of the areas that companies investing resources in now are expected to reap rewards from.

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The figures also provide an insight into the largest innovators in the sector.

Honeywell International Inc was the top IoT innovator in the mining industry operations and technologies sector in the last quarter. The company, which has its headquarters in the US, filed 21 IoT related patents in the three months ending December 2021. That was up from nine over the same period in 2020.

It was followed by the US-based Caterpillar Inc with nine IoT patent applications, Japan-based Komatsu Ltd (one application), and Australia-based BHP (one application).

Honeywell International Inc has recently ramped up R&D in IoT. It saw growth of 57.1% in related patent applications in the three months ending December compared to the same period last year – the highest percentage growth out of all companies tracked with more than 10 quarterly patents in the mining industry operations and technologies sector.