Research and innovation in industrial automation in the automotive manufacturing and supply sector has declined in the last year.

The most recent figures show that the number of industrial automation related patent applications in the industry stood at 1870 in the three months ending June – down from 2706 over the same period in 2021.

Figures for patent grants related to industrial automation followed a different pattern to filings – growing from 1474 in the three months ending June 2021 to 1786 in the same period in 2022.

The figures are compiled by GlobalData, who track 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.

Industrial automation 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.

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

Toyota Motor Corp was the top industrial automation innovator in the automotive manufacturing and supply sector in the latest quarter. The company, which has its headquarters in Japan, filed 314 industrial automation related patents in the three months ending June. That was down from 369 over the same period in 2021.

It was followed by the South Korea based KIA Corp with 219 industrial automation patent applications, Japan based Denso Corp (165 applications), and the United States based Ford Motor Co (164 applications).

AB Volvo has recently ramped up R&D in industrial automation. It saw growth of 74.5% in related patent applications in the three months ending June compared to the same period in 2021 - the highest percentage growth out of all companies tracked with more than 10 quarterly patents in the automotive manufacturing and supply sector.