The mining industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation. Activity is driven by the need for improved safety and productivity, and the growing importance of technologies that support the monitoring and management of operations, utilising sensors, communication systems and artificial intelligence. In the last three years alone, there have been over 48,000 patents filed and granted in the mining industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Robotics in Mining: Tunnel Rescue/Safety Devices. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 350,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the mining industry, there are 150+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Tunnel rescue/safety devices is a key innovation area in robotics

Tunnel rescue and safety systems help to rescue people inside a tunnel and to maintain air quality and control spread of smoke in case of fire or a disaster. As mines become deeper, more remote, and technically more difficult, the ability to source tunnel safety devices becomes more important than ever. Global corporations are witnessing a technological revolution in the underground mining sector. Automation enables the safe and remote operation of equipment, while smart technology enables real-time performance monitoring to drive cost and productivity improvements.

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established mining companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of tunnel rescue/safety devices.

Key players in tunnel rescue/safety devices – a disruptive innovation in the mining industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to tunnel rescue/safety devices

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
China Railway Construction 23 Unlock Company Profile
Sandvik 14 Unlock Company Profile
China Railway Group 13 Unlock Company Profile
State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council 13 Unlock Company Profile
Henan Energy and Chemical Industry Group 10 Unlock Company Profile
Atlas Copco 5 Unlock Company Profile
Xi'An Kuoli Machanical and Electrical Technology 5 Unlock Company Profile
China Communications Construction Group 4 Unlock Company Profile
Tian Di Science & Technology 4 Unlock Company Profile
Shandong Energy Group 3 Unlock Company Profile
Hunan Gold 3 Unlock Company Profile
Changs Ascending Enterprise 3 Unlock Company Profile
Jinneng Holding Group 3 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Expressway 3 Unlock Company Profile
Epiroc 3 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Leaders in Tunnel rescue/safety devices include Sandvik and Epiroc. Through Sandvik’s OptiMine service, the company offers the OptiMine Evacuation Assistant, which provides a visualisation of an evacuation, searches for the nearest safe place underground and indicates the location of personnel who are guided to the nearest rescue chamber, based on the location and capacity of those chambers. Similarly, Epiroc’s Mobilaris system helps those underground to navigate to the closest rescue chamber in the case of an emergency. 

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

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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.